It goes without saying that our recent trip to Paris inspired me. As such, I'm overhauling many aspects of my life to embrace French minimalism. I'm starting with simplifying my diet and truly embracing the casual nature of French dining.
My lunch routine has been a little clunky since having Lathan. I've struggled with finding the time to prepare things to eat while entertaining an energetic baby. After returning from Paris I realized that lunch can in fact be quite simple and involve little to no cooking and minimal prep, while still being varied and abundant. Below you'll find five principles I've learned from the French about lunchtime dining.
Keep it Simple
Lunch doesn't have to be a full procession. It can be beautiful and abundant, yet simple. By using the various grocery sections as a resource, you can have a fulfilling lunch that requires little effort on your part to comprise. This way you can keep lunch casual and nosh leisurely just like the French.
Fresh is Best
Produce really shines when it comes to lunch in France. From gorgeous salads to charcuterie and cheese plates (veganized!), produce helps to give your meal the pop of freshness needed to keep it light and yummy. Some great French inspired options to consider are radishes, haricot vert (French green beans), cherry tomatoes, Parisian cucumbers, carrots, parsnips, bell pepper and apples, pears, beautiful stone fruit, grapes, and berries. When approaching produce I like to eat seasonally and to also be daring by trying new items I've never tried before. So alternate your produce, your palate will thank you.
Think through your aisles when visualizing your meals. Start with your deli section and pick up delicious items from the olive bar, add some great cheeses (in my case vegan cheeses), grab vibrant veggies and juicy fruit, don't forget your spreads like hummus, nut butters, jams, tapenade, or veggie dips, plus a few pieces of dried fruit and nuts, then round it out with a good vessel of either lettuce for a salad, or bread and crackers for plated dishes. I know this sounds like a lot but when you're grabbing items and putting them on a plate it comes together quite easily. And of course you don't have to include all of these components, the list is suggestive, so have with it.
Bread is Your Friend
Yes, that's correct, eat your bread! You're probably thinking shouldn't you avoid simple carbohydrates? Perhaps but you certainly do not have to eat the entire loaf, though you're free to do so if you'd like. In this respect, bread functions as an accoutrement to dining. It shouldn't be your main item and should function to support the arrangements on your plate. Also, keep in mind the gluten free breads have come a long way and there are now many brands offering good quality products. A few of my favorite local companies include Bread SRSLY and Grindstone Bakery.
Marry your Fruit and Veg
Who says fruit and veggies need to be separate? Serving the two helps to bring a nice balance in flavor to your meals. When considering pairings think "what grows together, goes together." This means of course that in terms of seasonality the vegetables and fruit that are harvested during the same season, provide the best compliment to one another. Some good pairings are arugula and berries, cucumbers and melons, and brussels sprouts and apples to name a few. If the combination sounds good to you, well go with it!
The golden rule is to keep it fun and keep it casual. Try not to stress too much about your array of items because of course doing so would be pas Français.
*The slideshow images above were taken by Leo at the beautiful Marche de la Bastille