Monday, September 26, 2005

Making Land O Lakes (or equivalent French butter behemouth) Proud

Butter: I must be eating a whopping ton of it. It has never been a condiment that I use much of, and in fact, for the sake of my heart and my waistline, I try to avoid it. I prefer “huile d’olive” (olive oil) which is used some here, but butter rules all. There is no real way to judge how much butter I am intaking: I enjoy at least 1 pastry per day, a good croissant or pain au chocolat (croissant with chocolate chunks baked into it) is a perfect accompaniment to morning cafe. Plus lunch and dinner provide their own buttery additions: Speedy sandwicheries are the order of the day for lunch around here. Baguettes filled with things like chicken and lettuce with hard boiled egg (poulet, oeuf et salade) or tuna, tomato and goat cheese (thon, tomate et chevre). And on many of these – a healthy spread of butter. Sidenote: another surprise is the absolutely inhumane proportions of mayonaise which some of these perfectly good and fresh sandwiches are laced with. While recently eating a Poulet et Salade I had to develop a routine of squeezing as I could of my sandwich’s mayo to the front of the baguette, then expelling the large white glop with a flick of the wrist. Eating on the go without napkins or utensils left me no other choice than to litter Nantes sidewalks with tablespoons of mayonaisse. But back to butter.

On another recent lunch occasion in Paris, Jeff and I grabbed an overpriced sandwich and Orangina (my favorite global softdrink) for take-away, we found a shady spot to picnic on in the sprawling park between the Louvre and the start of the Champs Elysees. I bit into the goat cheese, walnut, tomato sandwich to find there was also a healthy coating of butter on one side of the baguette. As if I haven’t already been getting 4 peoples daily saturated fat allotments with pure cheese consumption here in France, I now have butter to add flavor and calories to my sandwiches as well! It was a good sandwich. Our meal that evening was supherb as well, boeuf bourgingon – fall off the bone beef simmered in a wine (and doubtless butter) sauce, served with herbed, butterey potatoes. Ah, French cuisine.

The buttery litany is not out of frustration. I dare not challenge ceturies of famed French cuisine methodology. And in fact, I am joyful that the “healthy food” questions burden me little. Besides, is there anything healthier than locally grown produce, un-steroided chicken, and freshly baked (no preservatives or hydrogenated oils) pastries? I am health conscious, but the food here has given me the freedom to enjoy its richness in moderation, then walk it off. I have only gone running 2 times, and done no other supplemental cardiovascular exercise (though I’m hoping to get some soccer in this week). The workout is in the walking -I wish I had a pedometer to guage the number of miles I have traversed. For example, this past weekend in Paris (i know...I just HAD to say it), we strolled from the Pantheon to Eiffel; Odeon Theatre to St Chapelle to the Louvre; Louvre down the Champs Elysees up to the Arc De Triomphe, etc…. Bring on the buttery croissants and afternoon Glace (ice cream). I’ll soak my feet and enjoy another round tomorrow morning.

Coming Soon in this Cuisine Series: Why it would suck to be Vegan in France, A trip to the French “Super Target”, and Okay, Maybe the French Aren't so Healthy After All.


Eliz said...

I wonder if the butter and mayo thing is a general European phenomenon? We get grilled chicken sandwiches here in Bosnia that come with more condiments than chicken.

Katie W. said...

The one that grosses me out perhaps more than mayo on sandwich is the Belgians covering their "Frites" with Mayo. Hm, and i haven't found Grilled chicken sandwiches here yet. I do recall desperately missing Chic-fil-a after my last few months in Europe. -thanks for comments e-beth. you rock.

Ashley said...

Just remember, all that red wine the French consume is supposed to counteract the effects of butter...something about preventing the cholesterol from hanging around in your body. So drink up!

kathryn said...

Butter has been slandered. Our bodies can recognise it and then process with it, unlike much of the substitutes we use. So eat away and enjoy! Et si vous vous promenez toujours, il n'y a pas de problème de tout.

Katie W. said...

C'est vrai Kathryn! D'accor. Merci pour nous donner les mots et en Francais aussi!

jeff (the hubby) said...

rather lots of butter than a big andouille sausage done "french-style". You myaswell just stick your head up a pig's butt and start chompin.

With the hopes of getting a new-orleans style spicy sausage, one of our friends ordered the tasty pig intestine dish. Lucky for her, they didn't chop up the meat, so she could enjoy one intestine at a time if she so desired...mmmm.

Shelly said...

I agree with Ashley-- when in Rome, do as the Romans do" philosophy should include food as well, right? Plus, you're right-- you walk it all off anyways!
And isn't one of the new bestsellers, French Women Don't Get Fat: the Secret to Eating for Pleasure"? --remember, you have dozens of friends living vicariously, so you are obligated to live and eat well for us.
Just another reason to take a big bite of that chocolate pastry for me. :)