Villamere. That's my last name. It's French, but apparently I'm not. If I was, maybe I wouldn't be such a chub-o. We've all heard that French women don't get fat. But is it true? And why? (And if it is, I'm adding it to my list of reasons to move to France, right below 'Gilles Marini'.) To find out the answer, I did a little Q&A with Laura Calder, host of the Food Network's 'French Food at Home', member of Chef Network Inc., and author of the cookbooks French Taste - Elegant everyday eating and French Food at Home. She's lived in France for the better part of the past decade, so I tasked her with confirming or dispelling the rumour that France has no fatties. Q: We've all heard that French women don't get fat. Surely, that's not true. I mean, during your time in France, you must have come across a hefty French lady or two, non? A: "One or two, yes. But it's not a blanket phenomenon like it is in North America today. The reason is, I suppose, that they are still eating the way we did two generations ago, to some degree: good quality ingredients (nothing fancy, just meat and potatoes, apples and cheese, etc.), cooked in homey ways (stews, roasts, sautés, etc.) and eaten at meal times sitting down. The French are not snackers. Really, there's no secret. It's just good eating. And it's guilt-free eating. Our downfall is that we eat too much packaged food or food that's pumped full of chemicals and hormones, we snack like crazy on junk, and we don't move around enough." Q: How do you keep your figure? You must be forever tasting things as you cook. A: "How do I keep my figure? I eat like a farmer from the 1920s. No, seriously, I eat meals and don't snack and I eat really good food: organic meats from a butcher I know and trust, a lot of vegetables. I eat sweet things, too, but all homemade so I know exactly what's in them. I also walk everywhere I go and I do a lot of yoga. I think if we put pleasure first, we're healthier. Pleasure equals the best-tasting (and therefore healthiest) ingredients, plus taking the time to enjoy eating with people we love. That's the best healthy-eating program I can think of for anyone." Q: Oh my gosh, can it be true? Guilt-free eating? Tell me about some of your favourite recipes from your new book, French Taste. A: "I love the savoury swiss chard tart in the first-courses chapter. I love the craggy chocolate cake in desserts, and all the apple tarts. I love the beef and carrot stew. See . . . all the granny food. That's my bag."
***None of that stuff sounds like diet fare. All of that stuff sounds delicious. Can it be true - can we eat deliciously decadent foods and stay healthy and slim? I don't know, but this is definitely worth investigating. I've got a copy of French Taste and I'm going to start cooking. Maybe I am French after all . . . If you're ready to eat like a French lady and see what happens, just enter for a chance to WIN a copy of Laura Calder's latest book, French Taste. To qualify, just Subscribe To This Blog and post a reply telling us about a weight loss myth you've debunked or found to be true. Do you eat quality, homemade meat, potatoes and pies like a French person and still stay slim and trim? Does green tea really help you to lose weight? Did you lose weight when you started eating breakfast? Is cabbage soup really the answer? What about detox diets? Or grapefruits? You have until Thursday, June 18 to let us know about your weight loss myth trials and tribulations. I'll announce the winner here on Friday, June 19. Bon chance!