15 Aug 2012

The Baguette… and Why Can’t I say No

Why do I do it?

What is it about women and learning from our mistakes? Why do we repeat behaviour that only leads to one place… Trouble, with a capital T… I am not talking world shattering or life changing errors, I am reflecting on ‘diet’… Let me qualify… I have been a bit of a baddie… I have been over indulging myself in the finer things of life and suddenly I have a not-so-sweet little addition around my middle to remind me… a 3kg BF that seems rather fond of me… How does this happen? I do know better?

Wine + Bread + Cheese = Disaster (maybe add a croissant or 3 into the equation…)

I am going to blame France… not my greedy self. It is her fault she bakes all those baguettes and bottles all that wine. Her dairy industry just needs to call a halt… no more Brie, Chevre and Camembert… and those patisserie chefs must get out of the kitchen… what on earth are they thinking? They are causing me grief… and they need to stop!

Seriously… the truth is that I do know the dietary perils of living in France… What have I done about that?… Have I learned from my previous over indulgence? No, absolutely nothing… Every morning I wake up bright and bushy tailed with the very best of lean intentions… no more bread, less rosé and absolutely NO cheese… I make it to lunch… extraordinary, aren’t I… and then all my self discipline evaporates as my taste buds water and my hands hover over the bread basket… Yesterday I had lunch with my lovely friend Heather… I drove to Saint Rémy de Provence to meet her, promising myself that a light salad and much still water was all that I would partake of… The excitement of seeing her got the better of me… What did I order? Grilled warm goat cheese on thick crusty sour dough bread… seriously good… and… green salad on the side… What did I wash it down with?… You guessed it… the most delicious rosé… I am a lost and un-disciplined cause! Monsieur Dukan and Mr Atkins would be horrified.

My behaviour got me thinking. Why do we loose our control when we know that we should take a pull? Why is it so hard sometimes to say no? I think for me it is the summer and it’s the time I relax and enjoy all the offerings that France so openly shares. I know these languid, lazy and rosé flavoured moments aren’t forever… as the days shorten I can feel summer slipping away and real life sneaking up.

That’s my logic… or excuse more likely… and not a very good one… seeing that I am here more often than I’m not… and knowing that the bread, the cheese and the wine are constant temptresses… Moderation must prevail if 3kg doesn’t become 5 doesn’t become 7… Time to stop talking and start moving.

Do you know what I mean? xv



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A beautiful space

Dear Vicki,
Having just recently returned from Italy and France I completely understand. I did discover though that simply omitting the carb thing made an incredible difference, add a good brisk walk and the results were not so disastrous. I’m probably not telling you anything new however I did find I could eat my cheese and wine but not indulge in the baguette and croissant too. I also noticed how much the male species were able to eat what they like and enjoyed themselves while all the slim women looked slightly miserable eating their salads and minerale water. Somehow we seem to have got the wrong end of the deal I feel. SA

Francine gardner

The infamous “middle bouee” as I call it. It never leaves me, occasionally, during bumpy flights, i hold on to it tight! In other time, especially coming out of the shower or getting into a skinny tight dress, I curse it, despise , fight it, I swim every day, do an occasional sit up, bike etc… but let’s be serious, it is still summer, we still have a few cases of rose to drink (friends help with that), new cheeses to try and the delicious warm baguettes from our french bakery in Greenwich. Swimming is no help, and I am off to France… trouble ahead

Louise Percy

Oh Vicki! I am in the same situation. Two weeks in Nouméa for French classes…and bread, cheese et oui, le rosé! I won’t know how much “damage” I have inflicted until I return to Perth…but, life is for the living…and walking while reliving lovely memories is for the waistline, je pense!


Bread, cheese and wine. I can think of nothing closer to the devil.
Tempting, evil but oh so divine.

Anita Rivera

I know EXACTLY what you mean!!!

OK, when I was in France for 3 months, I ate nothing but THE WHOLE blasted baguette, BOULE or whatever else they had in the bakery. I do not eat sweets, so that was a waistsaver…..or in my case, HIP SAVER! I do not drink wine and I am lactose intolerant, so I passed the cheese and wine. Every morning however, I would walk into the same boulangerie in Nice and evidently, I became quite famous with the owners. One morning after about a month, the boulangère mustered up the courage and asked me, “Madame, allez-vous manger TOUT ÇA?” I answered with an emphatic “OUI!” My small frame fools people; they wonder where in the bloody hell I am going to put all of that but when one loves BREAD like I do, there is no limit, not even a fear of a few pounds!!!!!! But France will do it to ya…..her tastes, her sweet and savory parfums that fill the morning air…we have indulged and we know her now. Backing off a bit is the trick I guess, but it is SO HARD TO DO…..

I so enjoyed your story today dearest. CARRY ON!!!! Anita

Teresa @ Splendid Sass

I can taste the croissant with ham and cheese now, and the baguette with the grilled goat cheese sounds perfect. What a life!
You are so busy, so I think you will be alright, Vicki. Enjoy this time. I am looking forward to winter. This heat is getting to me, with temperatures close to 90 and the humidity soaring.
Happy Wednesday.

Heather in Arles

Oops, I certainly was of zero help in the resistance department–not to mention we were celebrating my birthday and how I ask you can that happen without cheese, bread and wine? The stuff of life! And technically, we both did have salads and lots and lots of water. See? It is all in the perspective!

Not to mention things could be far worse. You could have perfectly well-intentioned friends giving you blocks of the most insanely addictive nougat…*a-hem*


Oh Gosh! Now I see where I’m going wrong! To me, goats cheese on sour dough with a green salad is a perfectly healthy nutritious lunch and I would feel positively virtuous about eating it. I only think that I have strayed from the straight and narrow if I follow it with a wonderful dessert. No wonder I am chubby!


We were in France last year and rarely saw any overweight people. Why is that? Do they possess some magic sort of metabolism. Sure wish I knew their secret. Plus, everything seems to taste better in France. Yep, we rolled home and then kept buying baguettes, cheese and French wine but it just wasn’t the same.

Lynette at thistlebleu.com


Not sure if this truly answers the question, but so many French smoke, which kills the appetite. I saw more women smoking than men when I was there in July. Many were slim, middle-aged women! Not the diet plan I want. I felt victorious after only gaining .2 lbs on my vacation. I ate everything, but I also made sure that I was very active every day.


Hey Vicki, we’ve been indulging in exactly the same Summer diet…..rosé, baguettes and soft cheeses! I’m even able to get the French wine and cheese and only have to put up with an American baguette (luckily have found the best one here – the ‘take and bake baguette’ from Target of all places!).

It is so hard to keep off those extra pounds if one really eats certain things, and doesn’t get enough exercise. It has been so hot here to get out and have meaningful walks, I give up after a short stroll and come home soaking wet and so tired – yes excuses, excuses!

But I’m really working on knocking off a few lbs. now – I’m off on another trip soon where the food will be great, but there will be plenty of exercise………..in your homeland!!!!!!! Yeah, really excited about this trip.

So dear, this evening no rosé, maybe just two tiny crackers with brie…………..and a gigantic plate of fresh steamed veggies! Hope you can lose that little waistline addition too!!!!!!!

Hugs – Mary


Oh, it sounds to me like you are creating too many rules for yourself instead of just enjoying life. It’s perfectly normal to have a little cheese or/and bread every day and not gain anything. But because you create the rules, you start overindulging here and now because, in your mind, this is the last time… Instead find the balance, watch the sizes (seriously you don’t need to eat a whole baguette to know it’s good, right?) and enjoy every bite! Plus walk everywhere.
Who cares about Dukan and Atkins? Men creating diets for women? Seriously?


Life is too, too short. Please, enjoy the delicious gifts of life, like bread and indulge a little bit. Don’t beat yourself up for it. I love Julia Child and her motto was always about moderation.


I agree Just enjoy delicious yummy food and wine. Iam about to make Vicki’s Tomatoes slow roasted Yum!
Have you heard of Fat Sick and Nearly Dead video about an Austrlian who travels across America on Juice and Vegetable Juice… you can look up his program called Reboot your life.com He is now selling his juices in Woolworths here in Australia…but the website gives you what you can do from home…..really healthy!

Vicki Lee Johnston

I blame France too… I didn’t eat sugar for two years and had lost weight, a nice trim waist … no mood swings, hormonal fluctuations … and then … macaroons, pastries, creme brulee, baguettes, and it goes on.
It should have ended in France .. but I longingly search for the same feelings here in Western Australia – and I can’t find it … but 5 kilos found me!

david terry

Oh, Vicki….

So, you and Heather have become good pals? That’s really lovely to hear (makes me happy to hear it)…the two of you share so many genuine enthusiasms.

I’ll admit, though, that I read this posting of yours and thought that the two of you might, like two drug-addicts trying to at least somewhat CONTROL their addiction, adopt the habit of regularly going over to each other’s houses, rifling through each other’s collection of exotic sunglasses, and simply “trading” for a short while. You could both save hundreds of euros if you did this….and when your originally-own sunglasses returned, you’d feel as though they were new, also…..and you’d be able to maintain the thrill of the chase and the sunglasses-fix.

I have two clothes-loving, female friends (who fortuitiously happen to be the same size) who do this with each other’s wardrobes. One of them exuberantly told me “Well, it FEELS like shopping!…and it doesn’t cost a thing except the gas-money to Richmond!”

and as for the difference between the thickening, middle-aged torsos of men and women?…..

surely I won’t be the first person to have mentioned that, when a man begins to thicken, gain weight, and “go grey”?…..well, he’s described (at the very worst, which isn’t bad) as having “an ex-football player’s build”…and the greying hair earns him the sobriquet of “silver daddy”.

By contrast, a woman in the same situation is referred to as having “let herself go”.

Similarly, there are any number of utterly derogatory terms to describe a woman (of any age) with an active sex-life. There are comparatively few to describe a man with an analogous lifestyle, and they’re all ego-boosting/complimentary…”playboy”, “Casanova”, “lady-killer”, etcetera.

All of which is to say that middle-aged men get just as thick-around-the-middle (as ALL folks do at a certain age). My good guess is that many middle-aged wives are being over-kind in not emphasizing that they’re not the only ones in the household who need to start wearing a torture-trap, 1950’s girdle OR stop mentioning the matter.

Advisedly yours as ever,

Uncle David


According to an American study on diabetes it was discovered that a carbohydrate rich diet caused increased weightgain and insulin requirement, whereas a fat rich diet was the opposite – weight loss and reduced amounts of insulin. This of course has an impact on non diabetes sufferers – a diet of healthy green stuff – filling up with salads and drinking lots of water with endless cheese was actually seen to reduce weight. Carbs are the baddie. I too have added a few pounds since arriving in France to live, but I have it on good authority that a goats cheese salad (no bread) and one glass of wine a day is good for the health as long as there is no snacking between the three daily meals. Bread can be eaten at the weekends in moderation! I’m trying this new regime plus my new exercise bike to see how I get on. Enjoy the cheese!!!


Oh, goodness: It is too much of everything that is the devil. A salad and a bit of cheese and a glass of wine is actually all quite good for you, in moderation of course. Just don’t do it the next day, too.


So funny Vicki! Glad you are enjoying life :) Moderation as always been the first rule I live by. When I deprive myself of something I want it more.. and I think it’s better to be a few pounds overweight than be a chronic dieter.. Cheers!


La Contessa

TRA~~~LA!Do you remember when I left a comment months ago that you and Heather of LOST IN ARLES should meet?SOOO, happy you two have met up.Sounds like it was a good match!Love how we can connect people through these blogs!It truely is FUN!


It is impossible to resist….Now we have a French Bakery near my house, sooo, if I am not in France, I am driving or waking to the Bakery, and off course the baguette will be in my bag, with some pan au chocolat, maybe some thing else too. It is pure torture,but if I close my eyes, I can transport myself to France…..and it is worthed. Thank you so much for being around……

Helen Tilston

How lovely that you and Heather were together celebrating.

Vicki, one does not have to travel to France to indulge in the goodness of what summer has to offer. We have the same temptations right here at home. So no blaming France!!! :}

Continued enjoyment of the hot and balm summer days



I’m guilty of the same behavior Vicki. On my last trip to Bordeaux this spring I lived on only cheeses, bread, wine and more cheese. For 3 solid weeks. My justification was that since I don’t eat meat…well, I needed to eat something didn’t I?
Self sabotage is so easy at the time of temptation for me. “I’m only going around once”, “life’s too short not to enjoy”, “what if I get hit by a bus tomorrow?”…they all work for me.
When I’m home, I find that if it’s not in the house, I don’t crave it. Put me in a restaurant however, and the bread basket calls out to me like the song of a siren !

Garden, Home and Party

Years of experience has told me that there are times when I can be the most disciplined of people and then, no matter my resolve, I cannot control myself…especially where great bread, cheese and wine are concerned, or we could blame France! :-)


I gained 15 pounds my first 6 months living in France all the bread and pastries! I learned that it wasn’t going anywhere and I should stop wolfing it down like it was!

Judy Bales

Hi Vicki – I agree with you! After 2 weeks of daily baskets of baguette, croissant, and le pain au chocolat this summer in Provence I felt like I had ODed on carbs. Before travelling, my doctor/nutritionist said that The US breads have 5 times the gluten in their breads than those of France, which is one reason why French breads go stale more quickly. The gluten is the main culprit. Also, harder to burn off the carbs as we get older! I think if we lived in France it would be most difficult to moderate on the breads and pastries, not to mention the Rose!


Oh Dear Vicki,I love all that you mentioned good bread, delicious cheeses, wine, of course wine;although I do add some fruits to the plates. Blueberries, apricots, peaches. It is still so difficult to stay away from such delights.

Sometimes I feel life is too short to not indulge occasionally (or more) I am rehabbing from this 3rd surgery; however I am doing everything the therapists asks. Sooooo I do deserve a treat, yes?

Art by Karena
2012 Artist Series featuring Harrison Howard

Sophia Twaddell

Alas, Vicki, like many of the other commenters, I know this situation all too well. The moment I resolve to give up bread, pasta, rice, etc., that’s all I crave. Fortunately, sweets are not my downfall. Now I am trying to simply eat smaller portions of everything, at every meal…it’s working a bit, but what I really need to do is move more. Sadly, exercise feels like yet one more thing on the “must do” list. How I wish for my 20 year-old metabolism!!!!


Suzanne de Cornelia

ADORE the watercolor!

Honestly, Vicki, I’ve stayed slim because I had a great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother who drilled it into me to eat very healthily or ‘pay the doctor.’ And in my first career of managing major medical center design and construction I witnessed far too many sad medical situations and nearly always there’d be a causal relationship between diet-disease. I want to stay healthy for my son. Losing my mother was so devastating…that I want to put that off as long as possible for my adorable son.

My thoughts are focus on the nutrition of eating healthy not the calories or occasional ‘chubby’ results because that is depressing and will call for another wine or two and choc croissant. IMHO ;) Hugs.

Maureen Burbury

Who did the adorable illustration you featured in today’s post? I want to be that girl. :)

Donna A.

Maybe we need to start thinking about baguettes in a whole new way…like baguette cut diamonds…and how beautiful they look with that LBD! Ha! Nice try. No matter how many issues of In-Style or Vogue I read I still can’t seem to downsize. But lo and behold, the front cover of People Magazine (July issue) caught my eye yesterday at the Doctors office…Paula Deen: How I Lost 30 LBS! What the F***! If her 65 year old metabolism can do it, I can too! Next to Julia Child she was the Queen of Butter (with a side of potatoes). Once again I’m filled with hope :)


The day I have to give up bread and my beloved cheese is the day I stop living. No matter where you live..what fun is life without fabulous food! I mean seriously how amazing is a crusty fresh out of the oven baguette with a wedge of cheese? Oh my, breakfast lunch or dinner…..its DEVINE!


Oh Vicki, you make me laugh. Isn’t it wonderful that we gals all share in such fun! Thanks for such enjoyable comments everyone! I do so love reading these posts … really grounds me as to what life’s all about! Love it!! Mary-Jill xo

Trish Murphy

VIcki I know what you mean! It is so easy to put on a few kilos in a nano second after spending months hunting them away.I have just lost three kilos cutting out bread and alcohol and using a juicer.LIfe is for living however and I believe that you can not be ruled by diets.Thats my story I will be indulging in moderation through Spring and Summer I love my GIn and Tonics and all forms of bread! When we were in France two years ago all the walking enabled us to eat and drink to our hearts content.So Vicki I am glad that you enjoyed a lovely lunch with Heather you simply have to get walking now! So long as you cut back on a few favorites after you indulge yourself what more can one do ! Here is to many more happy lunches.x Trish ( After all we are middle aged)


omg that was hilarious, seriously, I don’t want to laugh at or with the one and only Vicki Archer, but what happened to you happens to everyone at lunch.

Now you didn’t say that you ordered dessert, so well…that’s a triumph. But if you did, just chalk it up to lunch with a friend. Next time if she’s one of those friends who aim toward moderation, split one thing, the rose or the cheese so that you don’t feel cheated. You can have a little of one thing, just not a lot of all things. Forgive yourself. It’s the darn promises that catch us.

So salad tomorrow! Add a walk and walk longer than you normally do. Or swim another lap.

Thank you for the laugh.


P.S. Dr. Atkins died young of a heart attack. And all that high protein and no plants kills your kidneys.


PPS I think that when we set up an obstacle, like NO Wine, No cheese, something in our brain says: defy that rule.

And to be fair to you, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the best food in the world when it is so accessible. I couldn’t. I don’t. I just exercise more and that seems to work for me.


C’est la vie! How can you live without the baguette, cheese and rose in France? That will be very difficult especially when you have the best abundantly over there. Walking will be the best exercise just like what this slim French lady told me when I met her in Antibes. I was panting and quite upset already after walking for 45 minutes from the Picasso Museum to the train station. I asked her if there was any bus that will pass by? She just looked at me and advised me to walk on. She said she was not aware of any bus passing along because she normally walks! No wonder she is slim.


I know that feeling all too well, Vicki! I eat pretty healthy but there is a part of me that doesn’t want to miss anything so I indulge myself a bit too often at times!


We are still humans after all… Where is the joy in living if we are so tightly wound there’s no room to enjoy the finer things in life. I share your dilemma after toting back a few pounds more from a vacation in Hawaii, and not all them were luggage weights. The dogs and I have been out walking every morning since we’ve been back. My clothes will soon fit me well again and all I’ll be left with from that great vacation are the memories of a wonderful time. And you will too, be back to your fighting weight in no time.

Jess Flett

You are absolutely not alone and I don’t have the constant temptation of France at my door. I used to me good with temptation and be quite disciplined. Since being home with my baby son all that has gone out the window…he is now 13 months and I am still to loose all the baby weight!! Actually I should clarify…I think I did loose most of the weight bar a few kgs but since being home all the time I have put back on what I lost naturally!! Cut a long story short, I understand!!!
I think your point about Summer is very right…the sense of freedom, warmth, happiness and overall atmosphere is so conducive to enjoying oneself you just have to seize the moment and forget all dietary concerns!!


I too have gained a kilo or two, but I blame that on the exceptiionally long cold winter we have had here in Canberra.

Liz Sitwell

Hi Vicki,
Thought I’d heard that REAL French baguettes had no calories!
Oh dear!!
Hope you have a lovely evening,


Ah, mais c’est la joie de vivre, n’est-ce pas? ;)
I say, just dance it right off! (But enjoy all of the pleasures of living in a most glorious country)
Blessings, et bonne chance!
– Irina


Let’s just face it….sometimes we are v. disciplined and then there are those other days…..no big deal, enjoy!


Jeez Vicki eat a steak and salad already!! :)

Er, I mean mangez un biftek au salade vert!



Your post here c’est perfect. We are off for a grand art event and an indulgent time in NapaValley. (see my website) We have a lineup of mostly new restaurants along with a few old favorites…and the wine!!! Your post and the comments will be the Jiminy Cricket in my shoulder guiding my choices in which I will indulge! What a ‘cruel’ oxymoron ;o) ! xoxo, Chris

Denise from CT

All I have to say is ditto – I’m determined to lay off the wine, bread, and, in my case, chocolate. It really does work. In two days I lost two pounds – but as soon as I see the scale drop I get this totally justified feeling that I can just have a wee little piece of bread, and just a touch of wine with dinner. But sure enough it comes back to bite me. So it’s a vicious cycle and I don’t see an end to it. So I think I’ll just have a morsel of chocolate to commend myself for this comment.

Ingrid Mida

Dear Vicki, You are not alone… I am known to succumb to temptation too. But I pay for it when I exercise. I don’t exercise because I love it, I exercise because I love to eat….


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