First, a publishing house dishes up the best seller, "French Women Don't Get Fat." Then comes a second course titled, "Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat." (Touche! Take that you thin but aging French women.)
Now comes another entree, "Mediterranean Women Stay Slim, Too."
All right, already. They've thrown down the gauntlet, and it's not a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
So now we know that French, Japanese and Mediterranean women all stay slim. We're happy for you. Really. And that leaves those who aren't French, Japanese and Mediterranean where?
You say you come from a German line? Sorry to hear that my stout friend. Have some more sauerbraten.
Third generation Italian? Help yourself to some more manicotti.
While the authors of these "we're slim and you're not" books revel in their heritage, they say it is not about a call to ethnicity as much as it is a call to moderation. Smaller portions at slower paces.
One suggestion is to linger over the dining experience by putting your cutlery down between bites. I have been trying this with mixed success.
I take a bite, then place my eating utensils back on the table and put my hands in my lap.
"Were you going to say something?" asks the husband.
"No," I respond.
"Then are you getting up from the table? Because if you are, would you bring back the butter?"
"I'm not going anywhere," I say.
"Then what are you doing?"
"I am simply savoring my food, taking time to engage all of my senses. I am experiencing the aroma, the texture, the taste and the visual appeal."
"You are eating a bowl of Cheerios," he says, thereby zapping all traces of Frenchness from my morning bowl of fiber.
Apparently the key to slim is not just about stretching out each bite, but stretching out the entire meal. The French typically take two hours for lunch. Yes, lunch. This must be one of the perks of socialism, because for most of us lunch is five minutes standing at a counter, a sandwich in the car, or wolfing down something at the computer with one hand and keyboarding with the other.
The French also frequently finish a meal with wine. I don't drink enough wine to clear that hurdle where a half glass doesn't put me to sleep, but perhaps this is the way to get to the two-hour mark: 10 minutes eating, an hour and 50 minutes napping with my face in my plate.
The author touting a Mediterranean way of eating suggests utilizing the "three-bite rule" when indulging in something rich and fattening. Why bother cooking something, dirtying dishes and cleaning up for three little bites. I'd rather skip the entire process. (We may be getting somewhere.)
The author of Japanese descent promotes "hara hache bunmi," which means, "Eat until you are 80 percent full." She also stocks her pantry with staples like fish flakes and radishes. Not being a fan of either, that 80 percent cutoff would be well within reach.
A survey by the French government found 75 percent of the French eat meals prepared at home at the family table. A hefty number of Americans grab takeout, eat in front of the television or under the glow of the golden arches. Our differences are both stark and measurable.
On the other hand, Mireille Guilano, the author of French Women Don't Get Fat, says in her bio that her favorite pastimes are breakfast, lunch and dinner. Maybe we have a little something in common after all.