Monday, July 14, 2008

Diets, Manners, and More

Have you noticed that Italian women, especially in Milan and Rome, are sexy-chic and way curvier than Parisian women? And what could be more cool than an Italian woman in a belted skirt and high heels and huge fashion bag of the moment on her Vespa weaving in and out of traffic? Most urban Italian women seem to eat everything, pasta included, but in small portions. One young Roman, slimmer than most of her counterparts but still healthy looking, told us that she eats pasta or bread only on weekends, and during the week she has side dishes, no main course, for dinner. No diet food, but a diet mentality. Clearly those of us who are mindful of what we are eating do better at keeping our figures the way we’d like them to be. I’ve been giving Weight Watchers a whirl and hope I’ll see some results. The basic premise is that you eat whatever you want in small portions and stay constantly aware of what you’re consuming. Oh, for the days when all I had to do was skip a dinner and have a flat stomach!

As for French men- thankfully, not all of them are teeny tiny and skinny. Case in point: Gerard Depardieu – he’s a universally appealing, completely charming leading man and he’s actually fat. He’s also not slick or polished at all. Maybe that’s his appeal- he’s the anti-Frenchman.

I don’t know how you can place the American Schlub variety on your most wanted list, Sue! European men are taught all kinds of manners--table manners, door-opening manners, appropriate conversation manners. Lots of Americans have good manners too, but your schlub reference makes me think of the many men--and women, for that matter—whom I’ve seen chewing with their mouths open, and slurping. I once (and the operative word here is once) dated a guy who held his fork in his fist like a baby, though mostly he ate with his hands, sucking in as he swallowed, making gross snorting sounds and wiping his hands on the linen tablecloth. He kept asking "are you going to eat this?" and swiped half-eaten food, including a chicken bone, from my plate. I was amazed and thought he must have been brought up by pigs, but then I realized pigs are actually inordinately intelligent and clean creatures. As an added charming habit, he buttered his bread by pressing chewed crust onto the communal butter plate.

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