• Charcuterie plate (Andy Baker)Source: Andy Baker
It's not all cheese and wine when it comes to eating like the French.
By
Seraphina Seow

8 Sep 2020 - 4:02 PM  UPDATED 8 Sep 2020 - 3:56 PM

--- Enjoy a taste of France at home with Guillaume Brahimi on Plat du Tour, each night at the start of the Tour de France exclusive broadcast on SBS from 29 August to 20 September 2020. For broadcast times, go to sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral ---

 

People sometimes remark that eating cheese and drinking red wine may contribute to French people's good health.

But French-Australian chef Guillaume Brahimi says these ways aren't a part of the diet that he knows. Instead, he thinks the French's healthy habits include honouring meals and slowing down to savour food.

Lunch, a meal that here in Australia we expect to be quick and easy to devour, is a leisurely, planned affair in France. Often a French family will gather to cook something and take the time out of their day to eat. "No matter what social class you belong to, you sit down for lunch in France," says Brahimi.

WHAT GUILLAUME BRAHIMI IS MAKING
Guillaume Brahimi's five favourite foods to cook at home
When Brahimi is home cooking, he stays true to his French roots. But, there's a surprising vegan dish that makes his list of comforting favourites.

Part of this respect for meal times comes from the esteem that the French place on food. Branavie Ranjithakumaran, a Melbourne-based dietitian, says that the way they regard food differs from other parts of the West, where there's an underlying fear about the damage food may cause to the body.

Ranjithakumaran says, "[In France], there is emphasis placed on the social and psychological aspects that come along with the food. It's not enough to consume it in a short period of time. It's a real point in the day to stop, slow down, and be mindful, then be able to reset for the rest of the day."

Beef bourguignon

Brahimi adds that when French people eat breakfast, they chat about the beef bourguignon and crème caramel they ate the previous evening and discuss what they might have for lunch. Food is spoken about as a treasured friend instead of something to micromanage.

He also says the French are good at eating in moderation. "We may eat cheese every day, but not the whole wheel of it."

And a typical evening is not just focused on dinner. It often involves exercise or recreational activities. "A classic French family would go home after work, have dinner at 9pm, then go to an art gallery or theatre," he says.

"I cook French food at home with good quality Australian produce, which is exciting for me."

While Brahimi isn't in France right now to do these things with his own family, he connects with the culture by reading French novels and listening to French music. The bygone tunes of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, which his parents used to play at home, are the soundtracks of his childhood. "I also cook French food at home with good quality Australian produce, which is exciting for me."

Brahimi is a big believer in cooking with produce that's both high quality and in season. "The French eat lamb and asparagus in spring, mushrooms in autumn, stone fruit in summer, for example."

In fact, fresh fruits and vegetables feature regularly in their diet, he explains. In France, people often visit markets for fresh, seasonal produce, which is also usually more affordable.

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST
15 minutes with Guillaume Brahimi
French chef and host of Plat du Tour on growing up in Paris, making it as a chef and the best advice he's ever received.

Meanwhile, studies show that Australians don't eat enough fruit and vegetables. However, Ranjithakumaran hopes Australians will eat more if they consider seasonal produce, which is usually cheaper here, too.

She suggests people try different coloured vegetables, experiment with flavours and textures and learn more about what's in season by reading seasonal produce guides.  

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @s.seraphina.

ALL ABOUT PLAT DU TOUR
Feels like home: Grandma's dudhi halwa with a twist
EnterViaLaundry's Helly Raichura makes dudhi halwa the way her grandmother taught her – except with Indigenous Australian ingredients.
WIN 1 of 4 copies of Guillaume: Food for Family
We have four copies of celebrated French-Australian chef and host of Plat du Tour, Guillaume Brahimi's book to give away.
Team Cheese: Double (or triple) your dairy dose
To celebrate Plat du Tour we double (and in some cases triple) the cheese offering... #noregrets
Pizza recipes
Grab these indulgent recipes from Italy and abroad in our pizza recipe collection. Sauce up and savour the crusts!