Bakers Journal

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Dieting the French Way


December 5, 2007
By Jane Ayer

I’m not into diets….

I’ve said it before in this column: I’m not into diets. Part of the reason for my dismissal of diets is that I’ve been blessed with good genes and a good metabolism that has kept me at a weight I’m content with. Sure, I occasionally fluctuate a few pounds over that weight, but toss in a few more walks and a little less junk food and I can usually reign in the expanding waistline. For the most part, I don’t like diets because they either tell me to eat a lot of things that I’m not necessarily a huge fan of (i.e. cabbage or slabs of meat) or they tell me not to eat things I am a big fan of (fruit, sweets, bread). Having said that, however, I should also mention that I recently gained membership to the thirty-something club.

And with that membership comes dire warnings from those who are already long-time members; cautionary words about weight gain and metabolism slowdown and other such horrors. So when I heard about a new diet book called “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” by Mireille Guiliano (Knopf, 2005), I decided I wanted to read it. Not because it was the newest in diet books, but because I’d heard the book encourages eating bread, croissants, chocolate, and champagne. And, being a lover of all of the above, it sounded like this ‘diet’ would be right up my alley.

The essential message the book touts is one that is very, very appealing. It talks about eating for pleasure, about forgetting fat-free, sugar-free or “anything artificial.” Author Mireille Guiliano, president of Clicquot Inc in New York and a director with Champagne Veuve Clicquot in France, encourages really stopping to taste and savour foods, to make all meal times meaningful. As a North American woman, I became a little tired of reading about what French women do so well that we North Americans do so poorly. But I loved most of the book and embrace its mantra: when you eat with real pleasure, you’ll have pleasing results. The book is not about dieting. Rather, as Michelle Brisebois puts it in her column (page 11), it’s about the “undiet.”

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It’s understandable that anyone in the industry who has invested in a diet trend that took off with great guns and then plummeted just as quickly might be a bit nervous about embracing another fad. But something tells me this isn’t just another ‘fad.’

In Tuija Seipell’s article on cake trends (page 10), cake makers from across the country talk about the trends they’ve seen over the past few years and the changes they’ve made in their businesses because of those trends.

“People’s lives are complicated,” says Dufflet Rosenberg of Dufflet Pastries, “they want quality and clarity and comfort in the decadent desserts they buy.”

Dufflet’s ingredient list is one that is entirely “pure.” She’s even hunted down dried fruits that are free of sulphites.

“People do not come here for ‘healthy’ but they do expect the best ingredients,” says Lorne Tyczenski, co-owner of Sweet Obsession Cakes and Pastries.

Embracing this message doesn’t mean making a big investment; it’s simply about advertising what many of you are already doing. Like using only the best quality ingredients available to you. Or creating desserts that are masterpieces not just to the palate, but also to the eye. Or offering your clients an elegant, relaxing place to sit and truly savour one of your goodies.

Perhaps, finally, good ol’ common sense is in fashion. Let’s hope it doesn’t go out of style anytime soon.


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