This giveaway is now closed. However there is a really fun interview with Mireille Guiliano in this post, so keep reading!
Two weeks ago I had the chance to do a phone interview with Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat and The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook, among many other books. Mireille is a lovely person with lovely books and I was so excited for the opportunity. Not surprisingly, we had a lovely conversation! I wish you could have all had a chance to chat with her. She was friendly, sincere, kind and gracious. I’m pretty much in love and ready to do anything she tells me to do. Eat my veggies? Done!
In conjunction with the interview, we are giving away two copies of Mireille’s new cookbook, The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook. Simply leave a comment on this post to enter. The book is beautiful and full of wonderful stories and recipes. Comments must be posted by Midnight, Wednesday, May 19. Two winners will be randomly selected and announced on May 20. (U.S. mailing addresses only, please.)
On to the interview with Mireille Guiliano! (In case you’re wondering, her first name is pronounced Meer-ray, with that great French “R” sound. By the way, talking with Mireille made me want to jump on the next plance to France!)
Jane: I tend to get into a rut with certain vegetables. I’m excited about your cookbook because so many of the recipes incorporate vegetables that I don’t normally cook with. What are your most favorite vegetables to cook with and or favorite vegetable-based recipe?
First off, Mireille said if you’re anywhere near NYC, you must go to the Union Square Market. If you are one of those lucky people, think of me when you go! Mireille loves vegetables of all kinds (especially leeks!). One of her favorite vegetable dishes involves steaming fava beans, asparagus, peas, carrots and 3 potatoes sliced on a bias. Simply place the hardest vegetables at the bottom and steam until done. Sometimes she throws in ginger and shallots, and of course you can use whatever vegetables tickle your fancy. Serve in a souffle dish tossed with salt, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil and fresh herbs of your choice. Sometimes she adds a poached egg or a bit of meat. She said this dish is always a big hit and very simple to make.
Jane: I generally do my grocery shopping based on a menu plan, so I end up only buying ingredients for specific meals. As I have read your books it seems to me that your approach is quite different. Do you do your grocery shopping with specific dishes in mind, or do you shop for ingredients and then build meals from them?
Mireille said she does the opposite of what I do! She likes to go to the market and see what they have and then create meals based on the ingredients she’s purchased. She uses a very creative approach to cooking, shopping and cooking with confidence (if you don’t have that confidence, just keep practicing!). She said that she does not take herself seriously as a cook, and her recipes are frequently changing and evolving.
Jane: Do you think that the French diet is being irrevocably ruined by McDonalds and the encroachment of the fast food culture and an American way of eating?
Mireille said she has high hopes that this will never happen. She believes that the global world will not impact 300+ years of French gastronomic culture. She talked about about how the French government pays for health and takes proactive action. The French school cafeterias have amazing food and the schools tell the parents how to feed their children. France is a small country with regions and farms, so Mireille thinks that will continue to influence the way people eat. I asked her if she had hope for the United States. She said that years ago she thought we had reached bottom, but now it’s worse! But she is an optimist and believes education is key.
Jane: Health food experts often say you should eat 6 small meals throughout the day. Your approach definitely focuses on three meals per day, including eating all food moderately. Why is focusing on three meals a day a better approach than the multiple mini-meal approach?
Mireille said she has thought about this a lot and has been asked this question before. With the exception of those who need to eat frequent small meals for health reasons, she believes most people should really focus on 3 meals per day. Those struggling with obesity may find the frequent small meals helpful as a temporary solution, but we should all be shooting for the 3 meal goal. Mireille believes 6 meals is just too complicated in our already complicated lives, and that this approach generally just leads to overeating. She believes we do not need 6 meals per day in our generally sedentary lives…if you think you need a snack, drink water! As long as your meals are healthy and balanced, you will be getting all that you need in the day.
Jane: I love your section about men and husbands near the end of your cookbook. As I’ve embarked on my journey to eat less meat, most comments from readers have been that their husbands would never do it. Any tips for getting men and husbands on board with eating healthier?
Mireille’s advice was to be a great diplomat and make the transition SLOW. She also said to trick the husbands! Mireille believes there are ways to incorporate a healthier way of eating without “making a scene.” She talked about how when she got married her husband said he hated fish. Fish is one of Mireille’s favorite foods, so she was a little worried! When she saw how her mother-in-law cooked fish, however, she could see why her husband hated it! So, she eased him into eating fish. First she started cooking fish with cream sauces, then cooking in white wine, then finally grilling. She said it took no time at all to convert him and now he says he’s always loved fish, and she doesn’t remind him of his old ways!
Mireille said not to be pushy or aggressive, and do not use guilt as a tool. There are plenty of ways to change habits, do what works best and take your time!
Jane: You are a very successful business woman who seems to maintain a good work-life balance. What is your number one tip for not letting work life and busy-ness that many women experience on a day-to-day basis get in the way of being able to focus on and enjoy the pleasures of life?
Mireille used to take a walk every morning to keep things balanced, but her true love now is yoga and breathing, which she does to start each day. She took classes for years, but when her teacher moved she started to practice yoga on her own and loves it.
Jane: My last question might be impossible to answer, but I have to ask it anyway. What is your most favorite food in the world?
Mireille said, “My favorite food in the world? I love it all!” She did fess up that dark chocolate is one of her favorites. Sadly her favorite chocolatier, Joel Durand, is in Provence and doesn’t ship internationally! (I guess I need to go to Provence!) She talked about how her favorite foods are high quality, like a perfectly ripe apricot straight from the tree. She also said that good bread or croissant is certainly not something to spit on! Amen to that!
A warm thank you to Mireille for spending some time with me on the phone – it was a joy!