When SpouseMouse and I were in Cannes over the summer, we made a concerted effort to watch how the French handle carbohydrate consumption.
How is it that the French eat a lot of bread but are still thin by comparison with other Westerners?
Most of us in the West have been increasing carbohydrate consumption over the past 30 years. The ubiquitous offerings of Italian food and the promotion of the athlete’s diet of pasta are principal contributing factors.
As I have mentioned before, athletes need a high-carb diet; it’s a struggle for them to replace burnt caloric energy.
However, most of us do not have this problem. In fact, quite the opposite.
Italians eat a lot of bread and pasta, but, generally, it’s one or the other, not an excess of both. I have read where Italian women either eat pasta or bread in a single meal. Those who load up on both bread and pasta at dinner weigh more.
When we went out to eat in Cannes, we were served a basket of bread everywhere. However, when we received our various dinners — even the multi-course menu dégs — it was rare for them to be accompanied by a starch. The only time we were served chips was when we ate steak tartare; the fries are the standard (and best) accompaniment.
We ate only three other dishes accompanied by potatoes or a grain: a small quenelle of mash with guinea fowl, a spoonful of quinoa with a plaice starter and rice with gambas (jumbo prawns).
Everything else came only with a vegetable assortment or salad.
Bottom line — most of us do not need to take in as many carbs or combinations thereof. We can also afford to leave out many of the pastries we snack on during the day.