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PARIS

THIS IS JOHN CURTAS COMING TO YOU FROM PARIS, FRANCE. NOT REALLY, BUT AT LEAST THAT’S WHERE I WROTE IT. IN PUBLIC RADIO’S NEVER ENDING QUEST TO BRING YOU THE BEST IN FOOD AND RESTAURANT REPORTING, KNPR HAS SENT YOURS TRULY ON AN ALL-EXPENSE PAID TOUR DE GASTRONOMIC FRANCE. YEAH RIGHT—AND I’M ESCOFIAE’S LONG-LOST GRANDSON, BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS, IN THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS PERSHING EISENHOWER JEFFERSON AND JULIA CHILD, I’M SPENDING TWO WEEKS IN PARIS AND BURGANDY TO WATCH THE WORLD CUP SOCCER MATCH AND EAT IN EVERY THREE-STAR RESTAURANT I CAN LOCATE—NOT NECESSARILY IN THAT ORDER.

NEWS FLASH—THE FRENCH ARE DIFFERENT FROM YOU AND ME. FOR ONE, THEY EAT BETTER AND LONGER AND MORE OFTEN THAN WE EVER WILL AND THEY’RE THINNER—WAY THINNER. WHICH ENABLES THEM TO DRESS BETTER AND TILT THEIR HEADS HIGHER SO AS TO LOOK FARTHER DOWN THOSE LONG AQUALINE NOSES AT US. AMERICANS RETURNING FROM FRANCE NEVER FAIL TO BE IMPRESSED BY HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS, HOW THIN THEY ARE AND HOW SMALL THE PORTION SIZES COME IN THE RESTAURANT. THEN TRUE TO OUR BARBARIAN FORM, WE WONDER HOW THEY DO IT. JELOUSLY THY NAME IS JUNK FOOD.

WE SHOULD GIVE THE ARROGANT DEVILS THEIR DUE AND FACE FACTS. THEY LIVE BETTER AND LONGER THAN WE DO BECAUSE THEIR CULTURE IS BUILT AROUND FOOD AND WINE—NOT IN SPITE OF IT. THAT FRENCH PARADOX IS NO MYTH. RED WINE AND FRESH FOOD—TWO THINGS MIDDLE AMERICA CONTINUALLY HAS A PROBLEM WITH OR (REFUSES TO DEVELOP A TASTE FOR) ARE GOOD FOR YOU. SEAFOOD (ANOTHER BUGABOO ONCE YOU GO 50 MILES INLAND FROM ANY OF OUR COASTS) IS EVEN BETTER FOR OUR WELL BEING—AND REAL GOOD CHEESE (SOMETHING ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND SOUTH OF WISCONSIN OR WEST OF THE HUDSON) IS AN ESSENTIAL SOOTHING FOODSTUFF WHICH SHOULD BE—BUT IS NOT—A LARGE PART OF THE AMERICAN DIET. THE FRENCH FIGURED ALL THIS OUT ABOUT 500 YEARS AGO—BUT IN THE NEW WORLD, WE REFUSE TO FACE THESE HEALTHFUL FACTS IN OUR NEVER-ENDING PURSUIT OF TECHNICAL, DIETARY PERFECTION OVER TASTE AND COMMON SENSE. (. . .IN OUR QUEST FOR PERFECTION THROUGH SELF-DENIAL AT THE EXPENSE OF TASTE AND WELL-BEING)

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