I wear a lot of different hats: I live in New York City, where I'm the co-director of Food Book Fair, a wayward writer, sometimes an artist’s model, and occasional kitchen help. Plus, I’m a Gemini and a Chinese zodiac fire-rabbit; it's in my nature to be doing the most.
I love this tiring and inspiring life, but it can take me a minute to slow down. While I cook at home as much as I can — you can always find grains and beans soaking in my fridge alongside sauces made from scratch — you can also regularly find me eating “lunch” while speed walking between meetings.
So when Oui by Yoplait – French Style Yogurt came to me with the challenge of cooking and eating like a French person for a week — at a time when most people in France are on summer vacation, chilling, and actively not doing the most — you know I had to say mais oui to this dare. Below, check out my takeaways from my time channeling that French culinary vibe and slowing down to savor the simple pleasures in life.
Slow Down & Enjoy The Process
In my dream world of pleasure and leisure, eating starts with good ingredients, sourced well and prepared with love and respect. How I shopped this week reflected how I try to shop every week, wherever I am, whenever I can. That means shopping at farmers’ markets as well as supporting local businesses, be it a Mexican grocery in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, or a wet market in Chinatown. There's so much pleasure for me in the act of browsing and touching and choosing my food. I love strolling through unfamiliar aisles or exploring market cultures when I travel.
Beyond cooking and eating, what I eat with has in fact evolved with the places I go, including France and beyond. The mind-opening tang of tropical fruit with chili and lots of lime, the truth of a truly good baguette; I carry those flavors and memories — and oftentimes, tea, vintage spoons, textiles, and ceramics — back with me. A little something that makes breakfast or tea time that much more transportive.
Treat Yourself To Flowers
I cherish solo time and different ways of treating myself, however big or small. Fresh flowers are part of that. I love how they look and smell, and having them around feels like a simple luxury. I love checking out the seasonal blooms at farmers’ markets and investigating the more exotic flora in Manhattan’s Flower District, which I did this week when a passing crane literally forced me to stop and smell the flowers. Construction crew at 29th Street and Seventh Avenue, you knew I was doing this slow-it-down challenge or what?
Savor The Simple
If there's anything in particular about how I eat that vibes with the French, it's my love of beautiful, simple food. When you have perfect radishes or stone fruit in season, why mess with a good thing? I love the classic French snack of radishes smeared liberally with good butter and a little salt — I eat little ones whole or larger ones cut and quartered. This summer in New York we've also been the beneficiaries of such luscious stone fruit. A go-to: sliced peaches and plums with a generous chunk of honeycomb (especially if the fruit is tart), plus a squeeze of citrus and some zest, salt for sure, a slug of good olive oil, and torn herbs. This combo has become my signature breakfast, cookout, and picnic dish.
Something else I’ve been working on? Not being afraid of being softer, open, and more vulnerable — my look included. My style has changed a lot over the years, but through my 20s, I consistently rocked mixed bold colors, patterns, and textures and a slash of bright lipstick. I love a cat-eye. A blushier, no-makeup, nude look? It feels a little scary, a little daring to go so bare. But I've definitely got a few French sans-fards style icons out there from whom I could take a few notes.
In these few days of adding a little je ne sais quoi to my lifestyle, I took an approach based more on philosophy than simply cuisine. (Though the week definitely involved greater croissant consumption.) Did it tell me anything about myself? No new revelations...but affirmations for sure. Go to the market. Touch your food. Have wine with lunch. Enjoy your company, but enjoy yourself
even if especially if it’s just you. Let there be pleasure. Let there be leisure.