Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Monday 21 February 2011

Eating in the land of the olives

Before I give some examples of what people eat here on the Mediterranean, I should probably explain what it is that I would like to accomplish with this cultural mash-up diet I've got planned.

First, I should say that by "diet," I don't mean weight-loss plan. I'm just talking about being healthy -- and I guess, about not letting all of this great French cheese go straight to my butt. There are strategies, believe me. And, many of the ones I've discovered so far have been surprising.

Second, I should also give a little background for my dietary quest:

When I first came to France, I was scared. I was scared of the Professor (in that he was a stranger), I was scared of the language, of taking the bus, of tipping properly, and of being a difficult eater. I'm not that difficult, I'm just somewhat of a vegetarian, which is almost unheard of here in France. This fear set in at the same time as the Professor was warning me that the French are very strict about eating at the same time every day, that their diet is mostly unrestricted but very particular, and that they don't often snack.

My immediate coping tactic was just to go with the flow. But now that I've been here for many months and I'm married, making this home officially mine too, I've decided to re-assess. (The word ass is in there as a reminder to keep on task.)

The problem: I've slowly been bringing back some of my healthy Canadian habits to feel at home, but doing that, in combination with the French way of eating, seems to have been my worst idea yet.

The solution: I'm convinced there's a way that these two cuisines can get along.

Here's the Mediterranean lay of the land:

Here's a breakdown of Provencale foods and spices. It's an English site that gives some background to the traditions.
And here are a bunch of recipes that are typical of the area in which we're living -- offered by a tourism site. Some of our favourites from the area: Daurade à la provençale, pissaladiere niçoise, socca and (above) the Tropezienne. (You can click on a flag to read the site in English -- I just don't know the English names for these foods.)


  1. I think that the most difficult thing is adjusting to the strict eating rhythm over there- as a Canadian, I'm used to eating dinner at 5 or 6pm, while when I lived with my French ex, the earliest we ate was 7:30pm. I put on 10 pounds living with him and his family!

  2. Oneika: You think it's the late dinners? I'd forgotten about that! That killed me when I first got here. In Canada, I'd have dinner and then have a whole 6 hours to burn it off. Here, after dinner, all I can do is brush my teeth and go to bed! Okay, I'm adding that the mystery list.