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I’ve been four or five times to France, a couple of times to Eastern Europe, 8 or 9 times to England, a few times to Spain and Italy, and so on.
Whenever I go back and forth between countries, some important differences in eating habits become very apparent to me. In America, obesity rates reach over 30% of the population. The 11% obesity rate in France is caused by the fact that French people are starting to eat more like Americans, because obesity rates used to be only 5.5% in 1995.
If you order a caffè latte in the middle of the day in Italy, people will automatically know that you’re not Italian.
They will also secretly and sometimes not so secretly laugh at you…
I’ve also lived in the USA and traveled there quite a bit.
I’ve visited over 25 countries and I’ve been to Europe many times.
But after a stay in France outside of big cities, and coming back to America, you’d think you were dealing with two separate races of humans: one who only requires to eat 2 or 3 times a day, and one who seemingly must eat every 2 hours to survive! This constant snacking is also encouraged by America’s nutritionists and fitness experts, who have for years spoken against eating “big meals that drain your energy” and instead recommended to eat lots of small meals every 2-3 hours, to “keep the metabolism up.” In reality, this eating frequency has no real scientific basis and seemingly doesn’t lead to good results, considering that most of the world goes pretty well on 2 or 3 meals a day, while Americans, with obesity rates pushing 35%, are told to eat more often. I don’t mind big highways myself and I feel more comfortable driving a Jeep SUV than a Smart For Two car. The topic of portion sizes as a cue to overeating is explored in depth in the book “The End of Overeating” by David Kessler.
If you ever go to Paris, or on your next trip there, I want you to walk into a Parisian café and order a “jus d’orange” (orange juice). Quoting a study done on the popcorn eating habits at movie theaters, “people who were given the big buckets ate an average of 53 percent more than those given medium-size buckets.
Other traditions that we’ve completely forgotten is the “dessert,” which is supposed to be a special treat that you have after a meal, when you can afford it.In most parts of the world, breakfast is not sweet.In Thailand, the typical could include a thick rice porridge, eggs, meat, Chinese dumplings (Dim Sum) and some kind of savory soup.Traditions in food matter because they keep a certain order to things, and prevent overeating.In England, the “afternoon tea” allowed you to have a cup of tea with something sweet.