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Food Snob or Dinner Disaster: Why The French Might Just Be Right

This is part 2 of dinnertime dining stories which happened at a local store in a small and typical town in New Jersey. Interested in reading part 1? Click on “Food Snob or Bad Manners: Why the French Might Just be Right.”
Dinner table

We don’t always have to eat at a beautiful table, but why not just a table?

Did the title of this article grab your attention? We spend summers in New Jersey. Food snob or dinner disaster is based on cultural observations from a proud American and nutritionist living most of the year in France. Views are subjective and could be considered food snobbish but I hope you don’t read my opinions as a criticism to the people I wrote about. I feel genuinely empathetic on the food, health and body weight situation here in America. I realize that it is difficult to balance work time and taking time to eat. These true stories are an example of what I consider lost in many industrialized countries: that food is sacred, eating should be a pleasure and we could all benefit from taking even short pauses to sit down, relax and enjoy the sanctity of a good meal.

Sometimes I ask myself, have I lived too long outside my home country? Has the French culture overtaken my objectivity on the right way to eat? I find myself questioning American eating habits and wondering how I can help to turn things around, even through a small part.

A jar of olives started the conversation


CreativeTools.se - PackshotCreator - CreativeTools.se - PackshotCreator - Jar of olives

I gotta watch these curves, she said.

Here I was at the store again, back at the register to pay for my purchase. The same small counter where a week ago another store employee had his take out meal open on the counter and was eating his dinner while ringing up customer’s purchases . (Click here for that story and come back :)) What a food snob I felt like, giving my cash over to the guy who was eating his dinner with one hand and taking my money with the other. Thinking I should shake him and say, “Come on, sit down somewhere and just take a minute to eat, this is yuck!”

Now back again in the same store, different employee and dinnertime. The cashier looked at me, with a little twist in her eyes. You could tell she wanted to talk, so I did.

Really? You watching your curves?

Yeah, she said. That is why I am only having a jar olives for dinner.

So now I am thinking, What, a jar of olives? Oh my god, how sad is that? What a dinner and diet disaster! She cannot be thinking this will help her to lose weight.

So, uhm, you are just eating a jar of olives for dinner?

Well, I’ll have some pretzel nuggets too.

She started to explain:

I have to eat what I can find in the store here. I pay for it, of course. I asked my husband to bring me dinner but he works 8 1/2 hours a day, he’s too tired. I did eat sandwiches before I left, but it wasn’t enough. I am hungry again.

So I start to think of some suggestions.

What about some dark chocolate filled with nuts?

They don’t sell chocolate in the store and I have a nut allergy. Plus I am pre-diabetic and cannot have chocolate.

What about going next door and buying a yogurt?

I am alone here and not allowed to leave the store.

Hmm…I thought. That is tough. Olives and pretzel nuggets for dinner. Pre-diabetic and trying to lose weight. And all that salt!

We said our goodbyes and as I walked past the counter towards the door I looked back. Next to her jar of olives I see her drink: a 16 ounce regular coke. (Does she know that a pre-diabetic shouldn’t drink this?)

But my other thought was:

bottle of coke

I do not think I would ever see this in France.

Do you?

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11 Responses to Food Snob or Dinner Disaster: Why The French Might Just Be Right

  1. ~ The Lady in Red ~ July 26, 2012 at 22:27 #

    First, I’m not sure how many hours this employee was working but there are labor laws and employees are entitled to break time after working a specified amount of hours. (I’m not a legal expert, but I’m sure that this information can be verified on a government website somewhere.)

    If she in fact had not been working “enough” hours to qualify for a break, and she was allowed to eat while working on the job, I still have to wonder why she did not think to grab a cooler bag from home before she left for work, and drop a piece of fruit, a bottle of water, and maybe an extra sandwich into it (that she could have made herself earlier while consuming the ones she had before she got to work).

    I find the excuse that her husband couldn’t bring her dinner at work to be just that – an excuse to eat poorly. People pack their children lunches. Not everyone is married. I have worked jobs in the past where I had to pack and bring my own snacks and food. No one did it for me. I just don’t understand the lack of effort or desire here.

    • mbrighton July 27, 2012 at 00:40 #

      Dear Lady in Red, VERY valid comments….VERY well said…I think the problem is the last phrase in your comment. You see why in upcoming part 3! Great suggestions on how to combine eating healthy and working. Mary

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Food Snob or Just Lazy: Why The French Might Just Be Right | BrightonYourHealth - August 4, 2012

    […] Food Snob or Just Lazy: Why The French Might Just Be Right url='http://brightonyourhealth.com/french-culture-seen-by-american-dietitian/food-snob-or-just-lazy-why-french-might-be-right';size='small'; This is part 3 of a series of short stories from the counter of a retail store located in small town America. Observations on what’s missing for dinner because of  fast food and fast paced America. If you would like to read part 1 and part 2 , click on “Food Snob or Bad Manners” and “Food Snob or Dinner Disaster“ […]

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  8. Mary Brighton - July 24, 2012

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