Take it From a French Woman: Enjoying the Holidays is All About How You Celebrate

Holidays are the perfect opportunity for a gathering of family and friends around a table that delightfully displays all the best foods and favorite family recipes. In other words a FEAST! Something delicious to dream about and savor long before the actual event. No self-respecting French woman would dream of skipping one of the many courses of satisfyingly rich foods, or for that matter deprive herself of anything from the first offering of a ‘petit apéro’ to the final tisane. ‘Au contraire!Jamais! Pas possible! Ah non, non! Deprivation is not in her vocabulary. Rather, moderation—‘un toute petit peu’, she will enjoy the appetizer, the first course, entrée, salad, cheese, dessert, wine or champagne, un petit café followed by a tisane (herbal tea) to aid digestion. In my family a ‘constitutional’ evening stroll follows the leisurely hours spent around the dining table. Conversation, laughter, flared tempers—we are Gallic after all! But mostly love and appreciation—to be together and enjoy the bounty of Life! We understand it is what we do every day, not on an occasion, that helps keep our ligne, figure and our sense of well-being.

The tradition of Thanksgiving, like most holidays, is to overindulge for one day on rich food. I would never presume to suggest changing that, au contraire! But I would like to gently suggest a few lifestyle changes, a la francaise! to help make your Thanksgiving a truly enjoyable sensory indulgence, a cornucopia of plenty (think great times, no bellyache) and guilt-free!


The Tradition of Thanksgiving, Like Most Holidays, is to Overindulge for One Day on Rich Food!

Have you perhaps wondered how to navigate and enjoy guilt-free pleasure from this year’s Thanksgiving table—leaving the table satisfied and having enJOYed your meal? Thanksgiving is about abundance; deprivation is a contradiction to what is being celebrated.

  1. ‘Un toute petit peu’ (a little bit)is actually a good place to start; think ‘Gourmet pas gourmand.’   This gourmet attitude will enhance the food you put in your mouth. A small serving allows you to savor the aroma, texture, and care the cook invested in the dish
  2. If you are hosting the event, spread it out, take ‘votre Apero’ on the veranda or living room – and linger. This is, after all, a sensuous journey we are embarking on!
  3. When you are ready and unhurried, call everyone to the table and seat them according to your idea of fantastic, energetic conversation—don’t worry about passionate topics. Eventually, they become embedded in great family memories.
  4. Slow down, indulge and savor the pleasures of your senses. Look at the table-scape, scan the joy-filled faces, inhale all the delicious aromas, feel the lovely texture of the table cloth, enjoy the glory of the flower bouquets… you get the idea. Slow down and smell the roses, be fully aware of your blessings in the moment. This is what Thanksgiving is about.
  5. If you are serving wine or champagne, enjoy a glass. Again, really take note of it and imagine the transformative journey of the vine to wine. Where is it from? How old is it? Why was it chosen? Notice its beautiful colour? Fragrance! What special quality does it have that will enhance your meal?

Next time, five more tips on making the most of your Thanksgiving experience

Valerie Daniel, born to French parents and raised abroad, is an employee of Reserveage™Nutrition.