Is wine really good for you?

The key to deriving health benefits from wine is to drink it in moderation.

If you enjoy a glass of merlot, pinot noir or shiraz, you may be pleased to hear that red wine contains compounds that may also be beneficial to your health.

While red wine has been considered a celebratory and wholesome part of traditional diets in much of Europe for thousands of years, it wasn’t until research identifying the “French Paradox” (the observation that the French had lower rates of heart disease despite their high saturated fat intake, possibly because of their wine consumption) was publicized that Americans started embracing the health qualities of wine. In fact, moderate red wine intake is part of the Mediterranean-style dietary pattern, which is highlighted as one of the three healthy eating patterns recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The Mediterranean-style diet, one of the most widely studied diet patterns in history, has been linked with several health benefits, including lower risks of heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Numerous clinical studies have linked moderate consumption of red wine with many specific benefits, including reduced risks of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, osteoporosis and infectious diseases. Overall, moderate red-wine consumption is linked with lower oxidative stress and healthier aging, according to researchers. Continue reading “Is wine really good for you?”

Are French Restaurants More Likely than American to Survive the Lockdown?

France is not unique in seeing its service industry shut down in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But compared to other countries, France has a robust safety net of social security, unemployment, and healthcare. France has also implemented emergency measures that may prevent many of these businesses from going under.

As French restaurants begin to slowly reopen for outdoor service, the culinary landscape in France looks very different when compared to the United States.

Government Aid: Two Countries, Two Philosophies

In March, President Emmanuel Macron said he would do “whatever it takes” to ensure that no company, big or small, collapsed under the financial weight of the pandemic. He announced 300 billion euros in loan guarantees and tax exemptions. The government also played a role in negotiating rent forgiveness for restaurants.

Perhaps even more helpful, at least in the short-term, were easy-to-access “solidarity funds:” 1500 euros per month given tax-free to small businesses, compounded with an additional allowance of up to 2500 euros from URSSAF, a social security union for small businesses. On April 15, Gérald Darmainn, Minister of Public Action and Accounts, also announced that the restaurant industry’s taxes and social charges – about 750 million euros – would be forgiven instead of merely suspended for the duration of administrative closure.

In the U.S., by contrast, most small restaurants didn’t qualify for loans, while huge corporations like McDonald’s and Shake Shack did. According to the New York Times, big chains were able to access “tens of millions of dollars while many smaller restaurants walked away with nothing when the $349 billion fund was exhausted [April 16].” The Los Angeles Times reported that those small businesses that did qualify were reluctant to apply for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program because of the “strings” attached to loans.

Restaurant Workers Feed Us, But Can They Eat?

As far as restaurant employees are concerned, in France, most are secure within the net of the country’s robust social structure. When forced closures were announced mid-March, restaurant workers were encouraged to first use up their paid vacation (an average of about five weeks per year) before becoming eligible for partial unemployment (the equivalent of 84 percent of their salary.) Continue reading “Are French Restaurants More Likely than American to Survive the Lockdown?”

Reaching the bottom of the barrel: Coronavirus pandemic batters European wine production

 

It’s an ancient beverage turned cultural icon, so cherished in France that the legendary Victor Hugo once provocatively wrote: “God made only water – but man made wine”. Aside from being a staple at many family dinner tables, wine is also a massive European industry – and one that’s going through its own coronavirus-induced crisis. This in a sector that was already battling against 25% tariffs imposed by Donald Trump in 2019 that have seen exports slump.

Source: Reaching the bottom of the barrel: Coronavirus pandemic batters European wine production – Talking Europe

The 5 Stinkiest Cheeses in France


Why are some French cheeses so…smelly? Does a strong smell mean a strong taste? Here are some of the strongest-smelling cheeses of France.

Some cheeses have a distinctive, shall we say, aroma. And why not? Cheese is old milk, after all. But why do some cheeses have a strong smell and not others? It comes down to the way they are made.

Cheese starts as milk — cow, sheep or goat — to which cultures of bacteria are added. Certain cheeses rely heavily on brevibacterium linens (b. linens) which is also the bacteria responsible for, yes, body odor. So when someone describes a cheese as smelling like old gym socks, they’re not kidding!

B. linens thrives in moisture, which is why hard cheeses have mild odors while moister, creamier cheeses are often the strongest smelling. Not only that, some cheeses have their rinds washed throughout the aging process, keeping them moist — a perfect environment for b. linens to go forth and multiply.

And then there’s mold, the not-so-secret ingredient behind some of the world’s most odiferous cheeses. “Moldy” is not what most people consider a good smell. And when mold is put into a cheese, like the famous bleus of France, and then left in a moist cave to ripen for months… mon dieu, open the window so we can get some fresh air!

Is a strong smell the mark of a strong cheese? Not necessarily. Some cheeses, like the famous Époisses of Burgundy, have pungent odors but mild tastes. This is true of many washed-rind cheeses, where the powerful aroma comes from the rind and not the creamy interior. Blue cheeses are a different matter because the mold is throughout the cheese, giving every bite a strong flavor. Continue reading “The 5 Stinkiest Cheeses in France”

9 Classic Dishes from Provence to Try this Summer – Frenchly

From St. Tropez to Marseille, these are the dishes that will definitely make your Instagram followers jealous.

1. Ratatouille

No, it’s not just a cute animated childrens movie about — of all things — a rat who likes to cook. It’s actually a vegetable stew originally made by peasants in the South of France (particularly in Nice) when they didn’t want to waste a bunch of random ingredients. Ratatouille is tomato based, with zucchini, eggplant, onions, and a variety of spices, and it is slow cooked until the vegetables gain a smooth, creamy texture.

2. Socca

Like many of these dishes, socca is an example of Provence’s Mediterranean influences, both Italian and North African. Socca is a thin, unleavened pancake made from chickpea flour typically baked in a tinned copper plate as a street food in Marseille or Nice.

3. Soupe au Pistou

This vegetable and bean soup is similar to the Italian minestrone, but a bit tapered down, designed to highlight the vegetables of the season. White beans, tomatoes, onions, green beans, squash, and pasta are common ingredients. And the coup de grâce is the spoonful of pistou, pesto made without pine nuts, plopped right on top for you to stir in. Continue reading “9 Classic Dishes from Provence to Try this Summer – Frenchly”

Farm on a Paris rooftop: Urban farm aims to be Europe’s largest

The first phase of a vast urban farming project in Paris is now under way following a two-month delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Set on a Paris rooftop, the farm is set to grow over the next two years to become the largest urban farm in Europe.

The farm, on a rooftop of the Paris Exhibition Centre in the south-west of the city, currently covers an area of 4,000m², but those behind the project plan to expand the agricultural space to 14,000m² by 2022.

They hope to be able produce around 1,000kg of fruit and vegetables every day in high season thanks to a team of around 20 farmers while providing a global model for sustainable farming where produce is grown locally and according to the seasons.

“The goal is to locally supply healthy, pesticide-free products to local businesses, company restaurants, and to farming associations in a nearby area,” Agripolis president Pascal Hardy told AFP.

Along with commercial farming, locals are able to rent space on the rooftop to grow their own fruit and veg, while visitors can sample the produce at an on-site restaurant.

The farm is part of what appears to be a growing trend in the French capital to produce and consume food locally, with a number of urban farming projects springing up around the city in recent years, while Paris City Hall has committed to creating 30 hectares of urban farming space in the city in 2020.

“The real trend today is towards quality local products, more so than organic,” said Hardy.

“We’re at the top of the organic wave, but we’re on the way down, and the challenge now is to be able to show how the products were generated, and also to show that they don’t come from the other side of the planet, like beans from Kenya, for example, or from deep in Spain with farming practices that are not very virtuous.”

Source: Farm on a Paris rooftop: Urban farm aims to be Europe’s largest