Friday, January 22, 2016

Food Therapy

{ January issue of Bon Appétit by the pool }
There are two aspects of "independence" that I value dearly: not answering my door if I don't feel like it (and making zero effort to pretend I'm not there) and doing my own grocery shopping.

When it comes to cooking your own food and overall having the utmost control over what you eat, being the one to stock your fridge is already half the battle, the healthy decisions start at the supermarket.

Before coming to Paris, I had a very romantic idea of myself strolling through the market on the weekend and talking to the charming vendor and having them learn my name and ask me how the children are-- ok maybe not that last part, but I still had a few ideas on it. I must admit that the market in real life gives me serious anxiety and claustrophobia, mine is conveniently located right at the door of my metro station, and my mornings twice a week are characterized by lots of pushing and sighing loudly at the mamies that walk as if the floor was lava and block all traffic with their little carts. 

Nonetheless, the supermarkets do the trick for me, and I very much enjoy doing my weekly shopping, everything is fresh every week and nothing gets left over. This simple fact has really helped me make healthier choices and changes while living here. It has also given me front row seat to observe the eating habits of others, especially in a city as gourmande as Paris. 

The concept of dieting and the rules that you would immediately apply in the U.S if you were to embark on a diet, are completely foreign to the French culture. Normally, the first thing you would cross out of your diet is all grains and bread... in France? that's unheard of. Not eating some sort of bread product with your morning coffee would simply be impossible, and it's even encouraged by nutritionists. Window shopping the other day with some friends, I was asked some very curious questions in regards to smoothies, how to make salads in mason jars, what kale was, and how "cheat days" worked. It's comical how as Americans we're both known for being overweight and dieting and health experts. 

Ultimately, food has such an emotional component to it, both negatively and positively. Dumped and depressed starlets in movies immediately reach for a pint of Ben & Jerry's and treating yourself often involves a decadent square of dark chocolate (with passion fruit, in my case), we both treat and punish ourselves with food. In the same way, everyone has a dish that sends them back to their childhood, reminds them of a loved one or of a certain tradition. Remember that scene in Ratatouille where Anton Ego is sent back to eating his mom's version of the dish as a little boy? I walked around Paris last night with hallacas (a Venezuelan Christmas dish) in my purse made by my friend and this morning my apartment was filled with Christmas memories. 

We have those recipes "passed down" for generations. For me, it's a boozy christmas drink similar to eggnog that my mom makes; while I have the recipe, I've never made it, it's simply not the same. 

When it comes to cooking itself, I'm constantly researching new recipes and new handy things to make for a quick dinner or when someone stops by. I'm not a very good recipe creator so cook books, the New York Times food section, Food & Wine, Instagram, David Lebovitz, are all inspirations, but my love for Bon Appétit is uncanny. I'm a loyal listener of their podcast (every Wednesday, Thursday morning if you have a 6 hour time difference like me),  and it was my sole mission as soon as I landed in Miami to get the January issue pictured above. 

Living my first winter ever,  and with Paris having mostly grey days, I love to make colorful salads that remind me of sitting by the pool back home or that one summer when my sister and I tried veganism. I worried that winter foods were all chunky, hearty soups, but this issue is packed with colorful and spicy broths, earthy and crunchy salads, crispy chicken dishes, and veggie bowls (and I mean, look at that fun cover!). I'm excited to try out more healthy recipes this year, and overall continue to try and find that balance. I found quinoa the other day and have been obsessed with making it with lots of sautéed veggies. 

PS: Last year, David Lebovitz talked to me on Facebook about Miznon, and it was amazing (I mean, he answered my comment, but it's basically the same thing).