Friday, April 05, 2013

Fr Girls Don't Eat in the Street

I've been living in Paris 3+ months and I can say with absolute certainty that Fr Girls do NOT eat in the street. I've had almost no period of adjustment to Parisian life except in this one arena. As an adopted New Yorker, eating in the street is not only completely acceptable, it's preferable. Sitting down at a table to eat is for out-of-towners. Well I think so.
 
History bears out my assumptions. Just look at these Fr Girls at the beach in Deauville (in Eugene Boudin's painting currently at the musee Jacquemart-Andre). Not a single one of these gals is sipping a cuppa or holding a drippy ice cream/glacé. What fun is that? Why go to the beach and not eat? Heck
Thanks to British Pathe films we know Fr Girls in the 50's kept their hands securely tucked into muffs.
 
Is it any wonder the iPhone took off like gangbusters in Paris? Something to clutch instead of a ham and cheese baguette sandwich non?
And the proliferation of little dogs in Paris keep their mistresses hands very busy.
On the weekend I went to PAD - an avant-garde art and design expo in the Tuileries. There were plenty of Fr children absorbing the artworks but not a one was munching. I was the only stealth-eater with my Madeleines (instead of being the only stealth shooter - photos were allowed),
Back in the street Fr children are encouraged to hold onto their baby sister or brother's pram instead of a lollie. Some of them ride on the back, holding on for dear life instead of snacking. All basic distraction techniques
 
And yet paradoxically this town is world famous for its pastry and sweets. Go figure.
True there is a designated food break in France. L'heure du gouter or snack time is around 4:30pm when everything is allowed (though NO eating on the street ever).
 
In a city rampant with temptation I'm going to the pool regularly to compensate. I just found out today with my pool card I can visit more than one time a day. Three..four..five times in one day! This may become essential with my bad snacking habits. 
The walk home from the pool is tortuous littered with excellent boulangeries. Here is yesterday's post-pool 'reward'. Ouf
 
Today I went armed with a sliced apple. Believe me when I tell you the Fr do not even bring an apple to their lips out in the rue. Nevermind that, I need some time to adjust. I even chose a different route avoiding yesterday's Chausson au pomme like the plague.
 
No go. I waltzed right into boulangerie Maison Privat, grabbed a palmier and made for the door. At least I left half uneaten but what's to be done? Will I ever acclimate? Do I stand a chance in this town as a life-long street-eater? And what about when Summer comes and there's ice cream on every corner? What then dear PB readers? I see doom and gloom on the horizon. Can you suggest something?
Paris is not the paradise you imagine.
This giant poster in Sephora's windows may be my only hope - a pacifier. Come live in Paris. You'll soon see. Just you wait. Humph
 

48 comments:

  1. I can relate: When I was 19 I spent a Summer hitchhiking all over France. I ate my way (also my weight) through the patisseries of Normandy, Brittany, Loire Valley, Alps, Languedoc, and Cote d'Azur. By the time I got back to America I was FAT. I only lost those pounds through lack of opportunity (patisseries were hard to find in Philadelphia in the 1970s).

    So if you want to keep the kilos from accumulating around your hips you might have to move to Philadelphia. I guarantee that it's still so unappetizing there that you'll shed weight like crazy. Yes, you'll be nice and skinny but you'll also be in PHILADELPHIA.

    What did Henri of Navarre say about the situation? Didn't he say, "Paris is worth a few extra pounds"?

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    Replies
    1. I'm sorry, but being from Philadelphia I cannot let this pass . . . Philadelphia has a great reputation as a restaurant town, and I think Georges Perrier, proprietor of Le Bec Fin, would also disagree (such a well known French restaurant in Philadelphia it has its own Wikipedia entry).
      But Carol, I feel your pain . . .

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  2. I guess because I live outside of the city and only venture in for necessity..I am not used to seeing people eating on the street so it would look normal to me..En plus de cela..Montreal ..for the past 40 yrs ..ap..has never let street food vendors take up residency..It is never something one sees here..It's all about to change..This year..they are starting with trials..and then more..etc..
    So now I am sure I will see people eating on the street..:)

    My husband remembers the street food vendors with horses!

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    1. Who needs Philadelphia? I lost weight when I went back to NYC ...food there is dull unless yr in Brooklyn and why go there?

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    2. Anonymous3:18 PM

      You are just a nonsense New York hater!
      New york has much more diverse choices in terms of cuisines, at least more things to choose than just "butter based" food. By the way, you might not know what"manner" is, but don't think all new yorks are like you---many of us don't eat on streets! Yes I don't eat on Paris streets eithe---how can anyone eat on those streets which are full of dog poohs?! Oh! since you live in Paris, you must know a thing in town called "poople", a new app to indicate----
      I guess you know!

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    3. FYI Paris dogs are small for a good reason = their pooh is minute
      There's a reason for everything here except why you can't eat in the streets.

      Delete
  3. PS j'aime les pommes and that little girl w/ the red beret and scarf and coat? Did you dress her? So cute!

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  4. *giggles*
    Why not get some muffs? Way better than a pacifier, I might add. ;-)

    Viennese also don't eat while walking. They congregate around the Würstlbuden, eating only while standing there, with the plate on the counter (I have even observed ladies in long evening robe, next to the opera house, eating würstl that way).

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  5. Haha, love your solution!
    Interesting post. I'd never really given it much thought before now, but I very rarely eat in the street - maybe conditioned by my upbringing in Europe? I'd have to be starving and in a mad rush not to go into a nice café or restaurant and sit down to eat or drink.
    Not that this necessarily helps me avoid temptation, I might add!

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  6. If you hang around the tourist sites, you can eat on the street, blending in with the other Americans! So jealous you're getting to spend all this time in Paris. Wish I could go to that pool -- looks wonderful!

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    1. The pool IS Fab. It takes about 10 minutes to do 1 lap...well it feels that way not that I do laps. I hang out and jog in the deep end. The only jogging you'll catch me doing. Wish I knew how to jog by the patisseries...

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  7. Truly I am the world's worst (best?) snacker~ and will gobble anything anytime anywhere~ but the first thing that occurred to me~ this must be the reason and people are always asking WHY the French are so skinny. You have found the answer. No street eating. Non.

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  8. cyndi from SD10:50 AM

    I am laughing out loud.You made my day.And,Carol,you are right.When I think back about the times I've been in Paris...those women are not street snacking.
    Oh,well,I will try to hide my munching a little better.Though,I doubt that anyone would mistake me for a native.As,always I study your people picks to get style tips.Merci Cyndi

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  9. Thank you for the laugh on a gray Friday morning!
    I have been visiting Paris for over 30 years, on a yearly basis, sometimes for months and sometimes just weeks. And I have seen many, many changes. Although I am not sure we will see French women snacking on the streets, I am sure that you will see more youth and men.

    I too am a snacker, and if it contains sugar all the more so.

    I do not think you should change to adapt to Paris...just enjoy! There are too many great treats not too.

    Not to mention the fact that you are so good about going to the pool daily, you deserve a reward or two!

    Enjoy your weekend, Elizabeth

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  10. Carol, first of all let me tell you how beautiful your watercolor apples are! They blush in a most lovely way.

    I'm wondering if it's my having grown up in a different time and place that keeps me from any nibbling on the sidewalks of NYC. I might sample something at the Farmers Green Markets, but that's about it.

    I'd never thought about this before.
    xo

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  11. The French have this right, in my opinion. Eating on the street. No, thank you. Americans also eat and drink in their cars which I don't understand either. Maybe I do have some French genes somewhere---well hidden, but still there. Of course, I like that I can bring a sweet home and eat it without worrying that someone is saying "she shouldn't be eating that!"

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  12. I am soooo proud of you for maintaining your Stealth Approach in that crazy museum that allows photos! Places like that could be the end of you - you could lose your edge! You could be ejected from other, less understanding, places. You could find yourself with no place left to photograph in Paris, banned from every museum and shop. You might have to return stateside to find photographic subjects. You could find that you miss those incredible French pastries so much that you move to Brooklyn. You could blow up like a blimp from all the Brooklyn food. Whew! Now aren't you glad you only have to fend off a few Parisian pastries?

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  13. Well, I pretended to be French (didn't get away with it except in my own head) when I went last Spring, and believe me, I ate on the street...a lot. ;)

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  14. Anonymous11:23 AM

    I think you should consider yourself quite the hero.siphoning down from a Chausson au pomme to a mere half of a palmier is an accomplishment ! Why expect to go Cold Turkey? And you are in Paris...pastry junkie land after all.
    Lucinda

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  15. Anonymous11:29 AM

    I would so love one of those ham and cheese sandwiches w/ the great butter!(right now) And I would eat any & all pastry in sight. I once got Chinese take out near the St Paul metro stop and ate while sitting on a bench there .At the time it seemed odd to me that the only folks eating there on the benches looked like tourists. Later I felt like I was sneaking when I ate pastries on a bench at Luxembourg Gardens. So many tasty treats , so little time. I ,too,LOVE your apples.perfect!

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  16. Anonymous11:57 AM

    You are absolutely right. now that I think of it, I've never seen one eat,either. Delightful post today! Mary I

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    Replies
    1. Tanks Mary
      Sometimes I go off the deep-end of frivolity...

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  17. Couldn't stop laughing, Carol - especially with the pacifier; saw this poster but didn't have the same impression as you! Lol.

    It's totally true here; I was in London last month and amazed to see so many people rushing around with coffees in the street and snacking, something you just don't see in Paris - yet, before they're totally Starbucked?

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  18. Laura in Santa Fe12:55 PM

    This is a good opportunity to express your individuality and sense of self. If you feel like having a snack or cuppa in the "open air", then enjoy! You may even start a trend.
    A tasty treat and the right beverage can only enhance walking about in the lovely Spring weather!

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  19. Anonymous12:55 PM

    I absolutely love your blog and today's was extra entertaining and witty - thank you for putting a smile/laugh in my morning right after waking! :)
    Renee

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    Replies
    1. Tanks Renee
      Maybe I've become too much of a travelogue of late and not enough Parisbreakfast point of view like today ?

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    2. Anonymous1:58 PM

      I think one of the things that attracted me to your blog in the beginning was your witty thoughts on Parisienne's, I love seeing all the culture events you attend but sometimes it's just the daily life that's most interesting for those of us stuck at "home" just dreaming of being in Paris...also love the blogs about the dog, was his name Biff?
      Renee

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  20. Anonymous2:05 PM

    That is what cafe's are for to sit, nibble and watch. :) I am so jalouse.
    Printemps in Paris must be glorious.
    Please enjoy an eclair au choclat for me!
    I am such a fan for what you do.
    Laurie

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  21. Huh. When I was in Paris I saw women often eat on the street -- a chunk of baguette or roll. Now I'm thinking they must have all been tourists!

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  22. If it wasn't for all the uncalled for remarks that it'd bring, I wonder if a pacifier is such a bad idea,after all!!? (LOL)
    After I turned 65, it seems I only need LOOK at something scrumptious and I gain weight.
    Really an effort not to turn into a fatso.
    The French women maybe have the right idea.
    I know they are very prudent about their intake.
    Ah,well. Don't know if I can claim the same.
    Thanks,Carol. This was another wonderful,thought provoking post.
    Natalia

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    1. Dear NataliaR,
      I think you're right. French women are prudent about their intake. I see many older women particularly swimming and they're in very good shape. Quite lean.

      Delete
  23. In my two years à Paris that is one thing I never blended in with. I ate in the street like the gauche americaine I am. Fortunately benches abound?

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  24. I must be a terrible French person: I look back fondly at my Parisian career years working near l'Opéra Garnier at the American Express flagship travel agency. At lunchtime, I would usually be found walking up and down the busy sidewalks by les Grands Magasins (Printemps, Galeries Lafayette,) window-shopping, while enjoying my jambon-beurre or a galette complète... A chausson aux pommes or an éclair au café were enjoyed for dessert on occasion, when I returned to the office. I was young, had a faster metabolism, and somehow managed to walk it all off :-) The good old days... WIsh I had known that back then. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

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  25. Well I think Americans are heavier due to continuous snacking so no wonder French people are slimmer. I think once your head realize you can get those goodies anytime you want and you wont be going back to NY where you cant get anything good so you better eat them while you can, you will be able to pass them by easier. but I just cant imagine not getting an Ice cream cone and walking around eating it. That's half the fun of eating them. :)

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    1. Boy do I agree on the ice cream cone
      Looks like 5 daily trips to the pool for moi in store...

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  26. The pacifier advertisement is a classic. Could you see it in NYC? Non! Beautiful pool. I wish we had them here.

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  27. I love that opening watercolor.
    It is kind of hard to believe that in Paris people don't partake of the fabulous food while strolling.
    I guess that leaves sidewalk cafes?

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    Replies
    1. Exactly my sentiments Nikon.
      Strolling and eating = yum

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  28. I definitely ate on the street, food from kiosks, etc. & on benches when in Paris (& loved that there were so many benches). It was a way to save money & I liked the food. "Le traiteur" and "à emporter" were words I learned fast. Yay for the Paris pool!

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  29. I also do not eat in the street, unlike a lot of the Brits .. It is just not a good look and it is bad for you .. My grandchildren are taught to hold on to the pushchair too ...and do not eat in the street either, maybe and icecream , but even then it is discouraged..

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    1. Good for you Anne!
      Tres Bien-elevee

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    2. I was brought up not too eat in the street ... my father was quite strict and he was Maltese ,, not sure if they eat in the street .. !!

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  30. To me it's not a pleasure to eat in the street. I like to be seated to enjoy the food. I don't know if it is french or not ... But sometime, it's nice to buy something and find the perfect spot in a park to enjoy a patisserie for example. Have a nice we.

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    Replies
    1. It IS French
      And so civilized
      We Americans or New Yorkers anyway are beasties I suppose...
      Meow

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  31. Miam miam.....I want to go back to France to eat all these !!!!!

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  32. Anonymous12:26 AM

    so true.
    Never.
    ever eat or drink in public, unless you are sitting in a eatery.
    Otherwise the ever so proud French will say to you
    Bon appetite!

    Corey
    Tongue in Cheek Antiques

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  33. Anonymous12:45 AM

    I follow PB and love the glimpses into Parisian life! I recently picked up a copy of your long ago guide to the markets of Europe and have had a very enjoyable time perusing it. I love your sketches and it's quite fun to see how many of the markets I visited it during my European travels.
    Just want to say thank you for brightening my life with both the blog and the guide.
    All the best, Erin

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  34. Great post Carol. I love your pacifier/dummy solution- not sure how well it will catch on. I'm sure you're quite right, we tourists and strangers must be such a constant source of disappointment to the French.

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