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The French Paradox with Mireille Guiliano

Q&As

Mireille Guiliano

Author Mireille Guiliano will visit the Museum on April 25 to shed light on the so-called French paradox. © Andrew French


The celebrated richness of France’s cuisine makes the equally exalted slimness of its population that much more of a mystery. At the Adventures in the Global Kitchen program on Wednesday, April 25, Mireille Guiliano, author of the bestseller French Women Don’t Get Fat, addresses the so-called French paradox and offers a selection of frittatas, tartines, and mousse for tasting—in the French style, of course. Guiliano recently answered a few questions.

The French eat some of the richest foods in the world but maintain slim physiques. What’s the secret?

Mireille Guiliano: A different approach to food and eating. The key is to find pleasure in eating while maintaining one’s weight. French women don’t get fat because they eat with their heads and have learned to eat with pleasure while managing their relationship with food and gratifying their appetite. It’s all about balance and knowing thyself.

Why is it important to focus on savoring the good food rather than eliminating the bad?

Guiliano: As you learn to savor good food, you’ll eat more slowly, enjoy it more, and eat less. One has to define what bad food is and learn to use it as an indulgence. Eliminating it all is read as deprivation by your mind, and your body will take revenge and splurge, binge. Thus yo-yo diets will become a way of life. Our culture is obsessed with food, and so much of what we hear is negative: no fats, no carbs, no this, no that. Not a way to live, as it creates fear, guilt, and confusion.

How does “eating with all five senses” enhance one’s experience of food?

Guiliano: So often we eat like robots without even noticing and tasting. Once we become aware of eating with our senses it becomes a sensual experience where the taste, the aroma, the texture, even the arrangement on the plate and the colors of the food play an important part in the pleasure factor and enhance the sensory experience.

What’s the impact of portion size on healthy living?

Guiliano: It’s all about portions: our senses are fully delighted for only the first three bites. Thanks to the food industry, our culture has lost its sense of portions.

What’s your favorite indulgent dish to eat for spring?

Guiliano: With my dessert tooth, it would have to be rhubarb compote, which I make with a bit of lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon and use on a ricotta tartine as a sweet topping or for breakfast with my yogurt. Spring for me means the first fresh greens like peas, asparagus, and ramps, which I love to eat in many preparations. A weekend indulgence would have to be in a spaghetti dish with some pancetta.

Click here to purchase tickets for this program.

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