The other French paradox

La Pergola cafe replaced a hamburger chain
La Pergola café replaced a hamburger chain

You’ve probably heard of the apparent contradiction that the French have a low incidence of heart disease despite consuming seemingly large amounts of saturated fats. There is at least one very successful diet book based on this Paradox that includes dairy, red meat, and wine every day. We can confirm from just general observations, at least at traditional gathering points for the locals such as the open-air market, the butcher shop, the seafood vendor, etc. that it continues to be true. Interestingly we saw yesterday that the building that used to house a well-known US based hamburger chain is now a café/brasserie serving individually prepared meals from all fresh ingredients. No one getting fat here!

Another paradox that we’ve had personal experience with is that despite their emphasis on close family ties, the French are supposed to be difficult to get to know. Other than a couple of email exchanges with our soon-to-be landlords, we had never met them before arriving at the house we would be renting in Carcassonne. Although conducted entirely in French, fluently on their part and not so much on ours, the transaction went very smoothly. Once the lease was signed we moved onto the pleasantries of life in the city and recommendations for shopping, eating, etc. A specialty of this part

Cassoulet ingredients and corckery
Cassoulet ingredients and crockery

of the country is cassoulet, a baked dish that includes duck, pork, and white beans often in a cream sauce. When I asked where the best place was for us to try this meal, back came the answer “Notre cuisine” (our kitchen) with an equally rapid invitation to lunch or dinner at their house within the next few days. Naturally we accepted.

On Saturday we arrived at noon for a tour of the property, both outdoors and in before sitting down under their pergola surrounded by grapevines, of course…we’re in wine country! After 4 wonderful hours of conversation and 6 delicious courses it was time for us to leave with an even better impression of the French than we had before. We both feel that it’s really just a matter of attitude. If you make the effort to be friendly it will be returned 10-fold to you. We’re going to love living in France.