Europe / Snapshots

Plates the Size of Hubcaps

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FRENCH MYTH: The French eat small amounts of richly flavored food at meals, instead of large amounts of the same food; hence, the French Paradox of eating all the nice things in life, without the nasty side effects.

FRENCH REALITY: Maybe this is true in (some) homes, but the restaurants are an entirely different story!

HELP ME. I am facing a challenge never before set to me. There is TOO MUCH FOOD. What on earth is going on?

I have never, and I mean NEVER, been daunted by food. Until now! I thought it was just the first restaurant we ate at, but no, at every single restaurant I’ve been to, the plates and portions have been almost grotesquely large (excluding our first meal, which was served at a very traditionally French hotel…but mind you, it was still generous). No matter if it’s a creperie, a fancy upscale place with wine service, or the equivalent of an American Diner, the plates are the size of your head, and piled high with enough food to feed two or three people. Also, it is entirely expected for you to finish your plate.

Again, usually not a problem for me. But somehow brick sized pieces of salmon and mounds of potatoes are defeating me at every turn. Hmm, the food on the plate might also be part of the challenge. I’m eating about a fourth or a fifth of the vegetables I eat at home, and about twice the meat, and five times the potatoes.

Did I accidentally sign up for a French-speaking section of Ireland?

I sit there, fifty bites in, and unable to continue. It’s the strangest sensation; I just can’t eat more! This from a girl whose stomach and its capacity are well-known and respected (or at least, that’s what I like to think…). I feel like an alien version of myself. And for goodness sakes, I order the fish and vegetables! I can’t even begin to comprehend how my classmates are polishing off their mountains of french fries, and piles of spaghetti.

Well, I suppose I’m getting more bang for my buck. Wish me luck!

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2 thoughts on “Plates the Size of Hubcaps

  1. Hi Amy, I just caught up on your blog today – I hadn’t checked in awhile because it looked like you might have given it up! Glad to see you’re still at it. As for the portion problem, it sounds like the definition of too much of a good thing! I often feel the same way and end up taking half home. If that’s not an option, does anyone else in your group feel the same way? If so, maybe you could suggest sharing an order next time (if that’s socially acceptable and the restaurant allows). Or maybe you could order a side or an appetizer instead of a meal?

    • I’m afraid it’s not socially acceptable to split, and doggie bags don’t exist here; but I’m starting to understand why they serve the amount they do – the French really don’t snack, so they eat much more at meals. And lunch is a much bigger thing than I realized, since it’s the main meal of the day. I’ll keep you updated!

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