Eat your veggies!

A cow sleeping at the International Agricultural Fair

There are times when my mouth gets ahead of my brain. Way ahead of it. And that's when I blurt out things that are totally inappropriate. Case in point, I managed to singlehandedly alienate an entire group of expats last Friday when I declared that I couldn't stop thinking about the amazing carpaccio that I had eaten for lunch at an Italian restaurant the day before. As I described the dish in great detail - thinly sliced beef, shaved Parmesan and peppery rocket salad covered with a tart lemon and olive oil vinaigrette - a hush fell over the room. Baffled by the horrified expressions on the faces of the people seated next to me, I suddenly remembered why we were all gathered together. It was for a course entitled, "Vegetarian Living in Paris". Oops. Open mouth and insert foot.

But here's the thing, I don't usually eat meat. I'm much more of a veggies, grains and fruit kind of person, which is why I enrolled in the class in the first place. I wanted to learn where vegetarians dine in Paris, a city known for steak frites and confit de canard.

Fortunately, Aurelia d'Andrea, a journalist and the author of Moon Living Abroad in France, had lots of useful tips, addresses and advice to impart during the three hour class. If you would like to learn more, please visit Aurelia's blog, My Vegan Parisian Adventure. It's a wonderful source of information and inspiration. Additionally, Aurelia has written "Vegan Wine and Cheese, Parisian Style" and "French Twist", an article with advice on how to host a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner à la française.

During our group discussion, Cafe Pinson, Marcovaldo and Nanishi were mentioned as being vegetarian or veggie-friendly restaurants. Aurelia also told us that the French guidebook, Paris Vegetarian, features approximately 100 restaurants where vegetables reign supreme over meat. Interestingly enough, there's even a vegetarian restaurant in a beauty salon and another one in a clothing boutique! Be sure to check out Aurelia's blog post, "Bibliophilia", for additional information.

In a rather surreal switch from one world to another, after attending the "Vegetarian Living in Paris" course last Thursday, I invited Stéphane to the International Agricultural Show on Friday. Seeing all of the sheep, pigs and cows reminded me that meat is big business, which shouldn't have come as a surprise considering that my paternal grandfather was a cattle buyer in Iowa. According to a recent article in The Economist, meat consumption has grown from 22 kg  per person in 1961 to 40 kg in 2007. Which country eats the most meat? Luxembourg (136.5 kg per person) followed by the United States (125.4 kg). At number 19, people in France consume 88.7 kg of meat per year compared to the 3.2 kg eaten in India, which is at the very bottom of the list of 177 countries.

If you would like to reduce the amount of meat that you eat, try adding kale to your diet. It's currently being touted as the new beef. The Kale Project website provides lots of information about this healthy green vegetable, including updates about where it's available in Paris.

Many thanks to WICE and Aurelia d'Andrea for offering the "Vegetarian Living in Paris" course. With horse meat being sold as beef in some European countries and the recently released Harvard Medical School study showing that eating red meat can shorten a person's life expectancy, it's good to know that there are plenty of alternatives to steak frites and carpaccio in Paris!

Comments

  1. Your 'foot in mouth' incident made me laugh, MK! :) And a good job there are alternatives when you see cute animals like your last photo! xx

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    1. I'm still shaking my head over my faux pas! The little lamb was adorable. I wanted to scoop him up in my arms for a snuggle. When I used to commute to work in Switzerland, I followed the progress of the Spring lambs from the train window. It was always fun to see them playing in the fields.

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  2. My goodness, that cow photo is cute. I'm terrified of cows, in general, after having been chased by them as a child behind my great-grandmothers house, but that one sleeping--a fine looking animal. And that bah bah black nose sheep, too cute too. But bring on the carpaccio. And kale.

    (Grammar note: "shouldn't of come"? or shouldn't have come?}

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    1. Thanks for the grammar tip, Joseph! I changed it to "shouldn't have come".

      There were some impressive looking animals at the Agricultural Fair. Some of the cows, or bulls, towered over me. I can imagine that it must have been pretty scary to have them run after you when you were a child. But I have to ask, what were you doing in their pasture?!

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  3. My mouth was watering at your carpaccio description, so probably a good thing I wasn't there!

    But at least it was foot-in-mouth and not foot-and-mouth.

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    1. Ha! The only problem with having foot-in-mouth syndrome is that there doesn't seem to be a cure, at least not for me!

      And I've said it before, but I'll say it again, "That carpaccio was pretty darn delicious!"

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  4. I was a vegetarian my first tour in Paris, and now that I'm an omnivore, I can't believe all that I missed out on!!!

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    1. I didn't know that you used to be a vegetarian!

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  5. I was unable to eat meat for about 20 years, but I bet a lot of people didn't know, I just didn't make a fuss about it. I laughed at your faux paus, there are always some who try to impose their beliefs on others.

    I actually think that humans are naturally hunters and carnivores, I just don't like to think too deeply about how we get meat today. But it is so much better now I have a choice to eat meat sometimes, when there is nothing more attractive. vegetarianism was so restricting not just for me but for those around me. ..... but I must admit Carpaccio, I can take or leave.

    Love Denise

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    1. Have you ever read the book "Eat Right For Your Type"? According to the author, our blood type influences what type of food we should eat. Just based on my own experiences of what I naturally like and don't like to eat, it makes a lot of sense. The author also says that certain blood types (like 0) shouldn't be vegetarians because their bodies need meat. People with type A blood, like me, feel much better when they don't eat meat.

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  6. Just now reading this post - really caught my attention when you mentioned your "paternal grandfather who was a cattle buyer in Iowa" I'm from Iowa so would be interested in knowing where your grandfather lived in our fine state!

    I can sympathize with you on your "foot in mouth" experience - have been known to do that a time or two myself! I'm sure they understood and forgave you!

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    1. Some of the best people are from Iowa! My grandfather lived in the small town of Stanhope, which is near Story City and Ames. After their children were grown, my grandparents moved to St. Paul. Any chance that you're of Norwegian descent and eat lutefisk on Christmas?! My paternal ancestors all came from Norway.

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    2. Thanks for the info - Story City and Ames are only a short drive from Des Moines. And yes, I am of Norwegian descent!!! My Mother was 100% Norwegian and a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit both of my grandparents birth places near Oslo! My aunt used to make lutefisk on Christmas - I could barely stand the smell of it cooking so never did try to eat it but I do love all the baked goodies she would make - and no one could make lefse like she could!

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    3. I remember driving through Des Moines when we visited my aunt and uncle when I was a child! It's wonderful that you were able to travel to Norway. After my father died, we went there with my mother. I wish that we could have gone while my father was still alive. My grandmother used to make delicious cookies. My favorites were rosettes, the ones that are fried and dipped in powdered sugar. And lefse! Mmmm, we used to eat them with butter, lots of butter, and sugar - after we finished eating them with lutefisk.

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  7. My Mother and I had always talked about making a trip to Norway together to visit her parent's birthplaces - things always got in the way - we were both working and then my Dad got sick and she didn't want to leave him. Then my Mom was diagnosed with heart disease so there was no way she could make the trip - in 2003, I had already planned a trip to visit London/Isle of Man/Brussels and when I knew that my Mother would never be able to go to Norway with me, I added on a few days to my trip so that I could visit Norway - I took the train from Oslo to visit Aal and Gol so that I could get off at each stop and take pictures of the areas - when I returned home, I made a small album for my Mother so that she too could see her ancestral homeland - when she looked at the pictures, she started to cry and said "now I know why my Dad always said that he came from such a beautiful land" - I'm so thankful that I was able to make that trip for my Mother's sake.
    I remember the rosettes also - especially the powdered sugar touch! LOL! We ate out lefse with butter - no sugar - and my aunt made the best krumkake! This is making me hungry!! Good memories!

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