Monday, 24 August 2009
Why it's easy for the French to eat healthily
As you know I was going to give the blog a break but I've been overwhelmed at the quality of the produce in the south of France since we've been here. The apricots and grapes above come from a marvellous greengrocer in the small seaside resort of Le Grau d'Agde. It's open year round but is at its peak at this time of year. Our lunch yesterday consisted of tapenade and goats cheese, bought at the daily market, a bunch of hot peppery radishes (1 euro or 87p at current exchange rates) a couple of huge, misshapen but sweet, sweet tomatoes (€1.20/£1) and 5 fat figs (82 cents/71p). 4 out of our recommended 5 a day in one meal.
It's so easy to eat healthily - and the weather so hot you don't feel like doing anything else. Cooked food, especially meat, loses its appeal. All I want to eat is salads, fish, the occasional bit of cheese and fruit. Endless fruit.
Every stall in the market is laden with peaches - you can buy them for as little as 5 euros/£4.34 a tray (about 3 kilos I would guess) They're so ripe you can barely touch them without bruising them. You're lucky if they survive till next day - which is why, of course, we don't get fruit of this quality at home. They have to be picked earlier, refrigerated, transported the 600 miles or so across France and however many miles to a depot then distributed across the country. No wonder they don't taste of anything and cost three or four times as much.
What I can't understand is why we pay so much for fruit and vegetables we can grow perfectly well. Lettuces for example. In the greengrocer here they have five or six varieties - at around 90 cents (78p) and they're huge. Of course you have to wash them which people are no longer prepared to do back home but the flavour is wonderful - crisp, crunchy and sweet.
It is actually possible I might lose weight on this holiday (though I wouldn't bet on it given the amount of baguette I also manage to stuff down). I'll certainly end up a great deal healthier.