Wednesday, December 9, 2009

C'est fini...

my weekly French class that is, until March at least. No more tackling the past participles or learning seasonal vocabulary. Today's useful phrase: Il fait froid (it's cold!) Why didn't I start learning when I was in the third grade?

In the meantime, I'm 'traveling' to France in unconventional ways, as I like to do. Literature is a great transport (and for time travel). I picked up Chocolat author Joanne Harris' Five Quarters of the Orange at my thrift shop’s 25 cent paperback sale, and am glad I did.

I seek inspiration from so many, even those who are far from my own dietary page. I get a sense of what life is like for a foreigner living in Paris in Confessions of a Young Woman. Gillian shows readers everything from how to prepare and eat an artichoke to how to tie the perfect scarf.

She thoughtfully quoted Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food in which he describes a survey that reflected the different attitudes towards food:

"Asked what comes to mind upon hearing the phrase "chocolate cake," Americans were more apt to say "guilt," while the French said "celebration"; "heavy cream" elicited "unhealthy" from Americans, "whipped" from the French. The researchers found that Americans worry more about food and derive less pleasure from eating than people in any other nation they surveyed." I've couldn't agree more that we have a dysfunctional relationship with food.

Speaking of food, David Lebovitz schools us in how to make a French vinaigrette.

He says, "One assumption that I'm going to make about the French is that they're not afraid to make things au pif, or "by the nose". I don't know if a precise recipe for sauce vinaigrette actually exists. But if there is, I bet few people follow it very closely."

I love this. I rarely follow recipes (except when baking when measurements do matter), which is why you don't see many original Vegan Good Life recipes. Get into the kitchen, and be fearless. What's the worst that can happen?

Add the vinaigrette to a simple green salad, like the one I had at a French picnic I attend each summer.

Or add to your tomato salad with fresh basil.

Do make friends with shallots, olive oil and herbs such as rosemary and thyme. Roasting also does wonders. Vegan does not have to translate into bland, steamed, tasteless veggies just because butter isn't in the picture.

You don't need a lot of over processed mock meats. Try a marinated bean salad.

For snack time, I'm not a fan of 'nutrition' or 'health' bars with their long list of ingredients. What's more natural than fruit?

Can't go wrong with wine....

...and listening to some French chansons to get in the spirit. I adore the music of Vanessa Paradis. I hate that Americans often make fun of her teeth. I think she's stunning. Why is there only one standard of beauty? Her long-time partner is Johnny Depp, who also wonderfully embraces his own sense of style.

Vanessa Paradis: Il y a


Gillian Young said...

This put a huge smile on my face, thank you for the sweet mention! And I love the idea of healthy vegan food that doesn't involve bars/mock meats. I have a fairly open diet but eat mostly vegan because I love grains, beans and vegetables. But while in France, I will never give up butter!

My mom just brought me back Ani's Raw Food Kitchen cookbook and I'm looking forward to playing around with some new vegan recipes!

Vegan Good Life said...

You're very welcome. I hope my readers will visit your lovely site even if we wouldn't all eat the same thing at a dinner party. We can live vicariously in France through you! I’ve had the pleasure to visit Paris, but not live.

I worked in a fine French restaurant in New Jersey while toying with going to culinary school (which I decided against). I know the merits of butter! I struggle with cheese personally trying to follow a vegan diet (I even fall off the wagon, I hate to admit). I urge people not to feel committed to any dietary label if it's overwhelming to them (I think you've talked about this too), but eat as many wholesome, natural foods as possible. The more plant-based, the better, bien sûr!

Enjoy that cookbook!

Chessbuff said...

c'est termine.

i must refer to santayana's concept of beauty or aesthetics which he based on our experiences. therefore, there is not one standard of beauty because individuals can't have experiences that are completely identical. some americans might demean paradis' teeth but they remind me of my sister's teeth. thus, paradis' teeth are not bad at all.

anything going on for christmas eve in our area as far as vegetarian dinner/parties are concerned?

Vegan Good Life said...

Chessbuff - what a great concept. I think our culture is over-concerned with matters of vanity and materialism. Why not pursue the affairs of the mind as passionately?

God's Creatures Ministry is doing a holiday dinner Jan. 3rd at Veggie Heaven.

I do understand why so many vegan groups want to hold their dinners there (giving money to veg restaurant owners), but I do wish there were more options for this.