This isn’t a diet book, and it’s not a cookbook. It’s about eating, and living, for pleasure. It’s all about enjoyment and fulfillment, definitely not about sacrifice and deprivation, a way in which so many Americans view dieting, and food in general. In the introduction, Mireille refers to the “French Paradox,” or how to enjoy food (and wine) and stay trim, healthy, and yes, even content. The rest of the book includes so much common sense, yet presented with a charming new twist.
Mireille went to America as a slim French exchange student, and came back fat. At that time, her family doctor, whom she affectionately and gratefully refers to as “Dr. Miracle,” reiterated principles of French gastronomy and reintroduced her to the secrets of local women. Mireille then shares those secrets with her readers in a mixture of anecdotes, personal success stories, and even recipes. Secrets include portion control, and cutting out the offenders, (don’t stock things like candy or don’t take the route to work that leads you next to the bakery).
While not a proponent of going to the gym, (she says the machines look like weapon systems), Mireille does support being active and fit. Walk to work, and pay attention to everything around you. Stop and smell the flowers, and then continue on your walk. You’ll burn calories and take pleasure from life at the same time. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Try keeping your legs straight when drying your toes after bathing. Little things that one can incorporate into everyday life are the secrets of French women.
Even though she holds French women as the example, Mireille is quick to point out that they are not perfect. But when one ends up gaining an extra pound or two, she doesn’t call it quits and throw in the towel. Instead, there is reevaluation and compensation, and probably even the emergency remedy of a weekend of Magical Leek Soup.
There are no real secrets in this book, just traditional wisdom. We can all have a life of wine, bread, and chocolate. Let go of guilt and deprivation and learn to get the most out of what we enjoy in life, without sacrificing our figures.