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Guest Book Review by Corina Lopes

February 11, 2009

A guest book review by Corina Lopes, one of my classmates from the excellent Writing For Women’s Magazines class I took through Mediabistro. Corina is a talented, honest writer and editor.  I’m glad she reviewed this- it hadn’t really been on my radar, but I’ll be grabbing a copy, based on Corina’s review!  – E

French Women Don’t Get Fat

Mireille Guiliano

Vintage, December 2007

304 pages.   $12.95

I normally am not the type to go for self-help books, feel-better about your life books, etc. . . But while going through my mother’s cookbook cupboard for anything that could help me with potatoes au gratin, I came across this small, hard-cover, happy orange and creme jacketed book. Perhaps due to my French-cuisine frame of mind, I snatched it up and placed it into my purse as some fluff reading for post gratin digestion. (Why I thought it would be fluffy, I have no idea. Perhaps it had to do with the jaunty French woman walking a dainty poodle on the front cover that led me to that conclusion). The thing is, it looked happy and the packaging was prettily inviting – like a box of chocolate bon-bons. I have always been a sucker for bon-bons. . .

And thus my adventure into the very healthy French relationship and mind-set with food began. Written in the first person, Guiliano provides insight into how we ought to approach food without preaching from a nutritionist’s pulpit (merci beaucoup!), all the while helping us laugh and enjoy the nuances of life with the time-honored feminine tradition of witty story-telling. Right off the bat, I was drawn into her friendly, open, best-girlfriend voice.

Her philosophy narrows down to balance and moderation in all things – a philosophy my Spanish and Sicilian grandmothers have been instilling into me for years. Feel like chocolate? Then eat it, Guiliano encourages. But make sure it is quality, and eat enough only to satisfy the craving – not engorge it. She is a naughty vixen, with whole chapters relishing in proper wine tasting, meat dishes, creams and dairies, and carbohydrate consumption. But she makes sure to entice us with chapters and lovely recipes made solely of fruit and vegetables. Guiliano teases you with green beans and cajoles you with carrots.

Her sassy food guide leads me to my favorite part of the book: its message! Life is to be enjoyed, loved, and savored. A woman can only look and feel as good as the food she eats and the activities she participates in. To my pleasant surprise, French Women Don’t Get Fat was an extremely palatable, satisfying, and easy read. Too bad the same could not have been said of my gratin. . .

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