The International Living Magazine, the expat's source for much, has voted France as the best country to live in - for 5 consecutive years. CNN is summing it up, click here.
The food, the cheese, the wine...
That is it. We often used to drive over the border to Alsace, bought a fresh baguette at some little bakery, a whole salami or some dried ham and a bottle of wine. Then we would walk the woods or fields and when it was time for a break, we'd find a place to sit and relax and enjoy. Just breaking bits off the bread, cutting the salami with husband's pocket knife (always with him) and opening the wine (the same knife has the screw pull included).
Or spending hours at some brasserie at the town squares of Wissembourg and other smaller cities, indulging in simple pie, tarte flambée or other small food dishes. Always accompanied by some good wine, even if simple! Or, better said just the simplicity was so good... It wasn't until years later that I discovered, we were living the life of the wine/food magazines.
Moving to America, where I at first needed some time to get used to all the pre-processed food and all the plastic-airtight packing of meats, cheeses and cold-cuts, it was the Peter Mayle books about Life in Provence that kept me going. (Need to mention here that I loved living in the US! and with time, I found all the speciality delicatessen and wine stores that are also a part of USA.) Back to Provence: we have been there many times. And always loved to watch the local people spending hours over their pastis, just chatting away, living the moment. I could definitely imagine living there! (Not for the pastis, though, but for the wines...)
The book 'French women don't get fat' is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Mireille Guiliano, 20 years the spokes woman for Veuve Clicquot and the CEO of Veuve Clicquot USA, writes so beautifully about the 'French Paradox': the ladies eat the white breads, drink the wines, enjoy the minimum 3-course-menues (often 2/day) - and stay petite. (Well, for the most anyway!) Most of them avoid the gym, in accordance to her. But many are out there, running for the good produce, going to the different shops, buying fresh as much as they can. And yes! we all know the huge supermarchés France has to offer - but have you noticed how wonderful the displays are, besides the good quality of the food being offered? She writes smart and funny and it is certainly healthy to read what she has to say, it will at least open your eyes for some of the daily obstacles we all are facing in our struggles to get a healthy diet (without dieting). And the fact alone, that the opening of korks is music to Mireille's ears... makes her very sympathic to me, feels like I have been knowing her for years...
It all boils down to this golden rule: we have to enjoy what we are eating and drinking. To do it conciously, try to pick the best available of ingredients (is not always also the more expensive one, if you pay good attention), eat half the portion instead of 'light' (skip every other ice cream and eat the real stuff instead). And prioritizing the mealtimes. Taking time for the meals - plan them, prepare them, share them. Do the same with your wine and you will be fine. :-) Even if not living in France - not everybody is able to after all, right?
(And, of course, I cannot let be - I would be a bad Pfälzerin, if I didn't say this: The Pfalz which is bordering to the Alsace has a lot of similarities (ok, they have (at least had? it's been a while...) yellow street marks, we have white ones) and much of the good lifestyle to offer. Also we know for sure how to enjoy good food and wine and how to celebrate life. Ok, feeling better now, having said this.)