Alex asked about healthy eating in France.
I have tons of advice but will keep it short. You can get great salads
in most places, and you can get them to put the dressing on the side.
"salade" in France means just lettuce, so you'll need to order one of the
"salade composee" options. There is usually a mega salad that has beets,
shredded carrots, tomatoes, chick peas, lettuce of course, corn, and I can't
remember what else, but not cheese (usually). Sometimes there are
hardboiled eggs but they are usually easy to remove. If you are bold with
your French you can ask for anything to be left off.
The most important thing is to get it without dressing, or with the
dressing on the side:
"Je prends la salade composee" (I'll have the mixed salad)
"sans sauce" (without dressing), or
"avec la sauce a cote, si possible" (with the sauce on the side, if possible)
Always smile sweetly and gesture too, both help. On the appetizer menu,
"crudites" are raw cut vegetables, and I found them to be good everywhere.
You might make sure there is no sauce, or that it is on the side.
Pizzas can be ordered without cheese "sans fromage" (you might have to
repeat yourself, they won't believe you). Make sure you order it without
oil as well "sans huile", they sometimes put oil on top of pizzas.
(Sheesh, like they don't already have enough fat...) Pizzas come on a very
nice thin crust, and with veggies or "fruit de mer" (a delicious mix of
small shellfish) are very very good.
It is your "right" to have as much bread as you need with your
meal. I often use it to soak up oil if I'm stuck with a plate with some
sauce/oil and I'm starved and have to manage to eat some of it somehow.
Dessert menus almost always include sorbet, which will be non or very
The French are not very fatfree minded, but they do eat lot of good fresh
fruits and vegetables, and you can get them everywhere. I was
surprised that with a group of friends away for the weekend, after dinner
the fresh fruit disappears faster than the cookies. Not true in the US!!
Their regular breads are almost all fatfree, unlike in the US.
The pain complet, pain au siegle, baguette, pain au levain, pain aux
cereales, have no added fats (of course the cereal breads will have grains
that naturally have some fats). (In the US, I find most wheat breads have
added fats; I *hate* this.) Of course, avoid croissants, pain au beurre,
brioche, pain aux olives, pain aux noix, fougasse, focaccia, as all of
these have some significant fat components.
They have *delicious* pain aux epices, which is like a dessert gingerbread.
You can buy it in the grocery store, and from artisans in the villages.
Watch out! Some have oils and some do not. Without oil, and with nonfat
fromage blanc (like plain yogurt but worlds better) it is delicious!
Finally, when you read labels, you'll easily recognize the word for
calories, and "glucides" are obviously carbohydrates, "lupides" fats.
Have fun, I love France!
Ellen M. Sentovich
Cadence Berkeley Laboratories (510) 647-2807
2001 Addison Street, 3rd floor (510) 486-0205 (FAX)
Berkeley, CA 94704-1103 ellens@xxxxxxxxxxx