From food to fashion to love….how to let seduction take over…gracefully.
I first thought it best to start my new job with restraint and productivity. I went on a detox cleanse, wore sensible shoes, and went to bed early. And then I was sent to Paris.
As I embarked for the ‘City of Light’ for week of client meetings, I was also asked to capture any moments of “indulgence” for another project our firm was working on.
Indulgence? Moi? En Paris? Well….if I had to…..
From windows displays of red soled shoes to aromas of buttery croissants, Paris streets present the perfect canvas for seduction. And if you have ever had a love affair there <enter *wistful sigh*>, the city is painted with kisses. However, French indulgence isn’t an overdone event that leads to belly aching regret. French indulgence is simple, memorable and so tantalizing that you ache for it. an extra coating of “indulgent” significance.
Many a book has been written about the enigma of thin French women and the fattening food that they eat. Eat fat. Be happy. Stay thin.
I think many French women stay beautiful because they are happily enjoying decadent dishes. If stress causes weight gain, can’t happiness cause weight loss? Want to be happier? Eat some unpasteurized cheese! In addition, French women stay thin on cheese and bits of bacon (called lardons…oh god, how can you NOT get fat on something called a ‘lard-on’?) because they only enjoy a small amount. Lardons are cut into tiny pieces, not the long strips of bacon we have in the US. When you have strong dishes of fattening perfection, all you need is a couple of bites to feel satisfied. Who every heard of supersized Fois Gras?
Lastly, food is a celebration. You don’t snack to ruin it. You ensure you are starving so you can decadently enjoy each bite of your long awaited meal. Starving is not a problem since Parisians don’t eat dinner until 9pm when I’m ready to bite into my own arm due to hunger pains. Fois gras tastes better than my arm, so I manage to wait.
Paris is known for haute couture. Although many go to the Champs-Élysées for Hermès and Chanel, I much prefer the independent boutiques that have received the “trickle down” effect of runway inspiration (they don’t, sadly, have ‘trickle down‘ prices). Like food, fashion is best kept in small morsels. Indulgence doesn’t mean buying ten things. Indulgence means buying ONE well crafted highly expensive thing. After you buy one of these beautiful expensive things you will be so poor you won’t be able to buy another item….not even a ‘lardon’…for months. For the French, fashion is a crucial part of self expression. Just like art collectors buy art to hang on their walls, the French buy fashion to hang on their bodies. As Coco Chanel said, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”
French are ‘all in’ when it comes to cheese, pig parts, of course, l’amour. They don’t do the horrendous thing Americans call dating. Dating is a sport for love schizophrenics. Instead of indulging, one tries to ‘hedge their bets’ and half heartedly test out multiple people at the same time with set rules. Example: “I never get naked until date three…but I’ll get naked with seven different people.” How utterly confusing. American romance is like being at a bad buffet where you have 15 types of slop on your plate, feel sick, and want to purge in a bathroom with bad florescent lighting. Even worse YOU could be one of the 15 types of slop on someone else’s plate! The French, however, treat romance (and you) like a fine meal. They pick one main plate (or person) and heartily dive in. There’s no conversation, there’s no rules, and there’s no internal debate. Two people fall for each other desperately and each other alone. It may last, it may not last, but at least they enjoyed every inside of the moment they were in. And with no distractions across the buffet spread, the couple may just fall in love.
As you can see, French indulgence is simple. You don’t deny yourself anything. You just restrain yourself to only indulge in that which you want the most. How much better would life be if we were ONLY passionate about everything we did? Would we laugh louder? Would we love deeper? Regardless of the answers, I am pretty sure we’d live more exciting lives.
“The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” -Elizabeth Taylor