Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A la gloire de la cuisine française

Last night I had the great pleasure of meeting Mireille Guiliano, renowned author whose claim to fame came from her intimate involvement with Clicquot Inc., the owner of the Veuve Clicquot champagne (as the firm’s then-CEO, she is credited with resurrecting the brand, achieving double-digit sales growth year after year, and ultimately claiming 25% of the market of high-end champagne consumers). The context of my meeting her, however, had less to do with bubbly and more with her efforts to promote her new cookbook, entitled – stirringly – “The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook”. I must confess I didn’t know much about the person, and less so about the content of the book, but her charisma and her encouragement for healthy eating aroused my curiosity and interest, so I went to the book-signing event in Toronto last night. Marvelous person (“un phénomène”, as I’d say in French) !

Her secret – wholeheartedly healthy, I’d add – is to have smaller portions, a strict three-meals-a-day regimen and embrace wholeheartedly culinary diversity. In fact, she is quick to point out that attitudes, above behaviours, must changes: people (note that I don’t restrict the term to just “women”) should consider cooking an act of love, where the results are immediate (unlike a business activity, which may yield results over a much longer period of time).

Anyway, what best to describe the experience than by offering a luxurious glimpse into the French cuisine? “A la gloire de la cuisine française” (“to the glory of the French cuisine”) is an ode to the many creations that continue to fascinate gourmands and general folk alike (Mireille insists meals should not be gulped in 5 minutes, as the brain requires about 20 to process that the body is satiated and hence the quick meals turns into added calories – besides, where is the pleasure of having and indeed savouring the meal?).

This scarf, designed by Robert Dumas (related to the founding family of Thierry Hermes by association and the first non-descendent leader of the firm) was issued in 1942 and reissued in 1989, followed by a 2005 all-cotton (70cm) version. Despite some elements that reflect that era (such as the folds in the table cloth – the gourmet items are layed out onto a clothed table – , which, by now, would give an impression of “out of fashion”), the appeal of this scarf continues. Of particular interest to me is the “sparse” design; unlike many other scarves, this one features elements that support the theme laid out as if served – independently – at a dinner table … so participants enjoy the entire experience fully. If cooking is an act of love, should we not employ all our senses to savour the experience ?

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