And like that, it’s all over – I’m back in Virginia looking over pictures taken half a world away and reminiscing over memories of a great adventure. I’m also a little bit poorer and a few pounds heaver, but we won’t go into that (for truthfully, I’m not even a little bit sad!)
I spent my last day in Paris pretty much how I spent my first: wandering around to see what I could find (that is, what I haven’t already discovered,) getting one last baguette and croissant from the bakery downstairs, and of course shopping.
I’m definitely going to miss Paris and the little closet apartment in the 8th Arrondissement. I’m defintely leaving in a better state of mind (for the reasons I mentioned earlier) and I’m determined to take as much of France back with me as I can, if not literally than in spirit. There are a few things that are apparent to me especially being back in the States, that I wonder if we should incorporate more. Not surprisingly many of them are food-related.
For instance, the quality of food – never in my life have I enjoyed eating plain cherry tomatoes as a snack, as the American ones are (I think) picked too early or are out of season, and don’t have the same sweetness and flavor. I even did the majority of my shopping at the chain markets in Paris, and it was still more fresh than what you find here. Lesson 1: find farmers markets (and actually make the effort to go!)
For as many pastry shops as are around France, I’m convinced that there isn’t nearly as much processed sugar as you would think. There certainly isn’t the amount of random added sugar that you would find in nearly every food in America! Take bread: I went looking for recipes to make my own baguettes, and found that most recipes from American websites involved adding at least a cup of sugar. I’m not sure that’s right. See, when I cut down my consumption of processed carbs last fall, I had noticed that I was having fewer problems with my normally acne-ridden skin. And when I cut out sugar and dairy completely during the month before the wedding, I didn’t have a single blemish despite being so stressed out. I was anticipating a breakout – had even looked up dermatologists in the area in case I needed an emergency cortisone shot – but despite my mother driving me up the wall, nothing. This is a long-winded way of saying that I’m convinced there’s no added sugar in French bread. I ate my weight in bread this past month (as my expanded waistline proves) but my skin? Other than during my first week here when I was eating allllll the chocolate and macarons, I haven’t had a problem at all with acne. Julia Child and the author of French Women Don’t Get Fat agree: the basic recipe is flour, eggs, salt, yeast, and that’s it. So, lesson 2: step away from processed sugar. It’s possible to enjoy sweets without being so overwhelmed by sugar!
And speaking of French Women Don’t Get Fat, one of the points she stresses (and is also the main theme for How to Have Your Cake and Skinny Jeans Too) is the concept of eating slowly and mindfully. I was forced to do this in Europe, since a meal in a restaurant can take over two hours. I found that all the talk is true – eating slowly makes you feel full sooner, so you don’t end up eating everything in sight. As for the mindful eating, it was something I’d always felt self-conscious about doing, especially in public. I just felt weird eating while doing nothing, when I could be reading a newspaper or something. But I was inspired by all the young women I’d see in the cafes in Paris at lunchtime, many of them alone, enjoying their meal without a phone or book in sight. They clearly didn’t feel self-conscious, so why should I? It’s definitely a change from the norm, as I discovered during my layover in Philadelphia. As I ate my salad, literally everyone else in the packed cafe had their eyes glued to their phones. But I think mindful eating is worth continuing, if nothing else because it’s already helped me to eat healthier since I’ve been back.
Well, I’d like to continue, but I’m being informed by Chuck that I need to wrap it up soon because we’re setting off for Bermuda this morning, rather than later this afternoon like we planned. Another sailing adventure! I confess, I’m worried about this one because it’s going to be about a five-day transit over the open ocean, and given my tendency for seasickness… well, maybe I need not worry about how to lose the weight I gained in Europe after all.
So thank you for following along on my Eurotrip adventures! See you in Bermuda!