On the practice of cognitive control

BoulangerieLorette_05

If you are someone who enjoys good food & wine, & who also loves to cook, moving to Paris for 6 months is like having all of your dreams come true. I pondered this subject a lot when I returned back to the USA for some work commitments at IU recently. I was also astounded that living in Paris with all of this amazing food & wine allowed me to dump a couple of kilograms without really trying. How did that happen ? I realized that over the last few months I have been practising cognitive control & executive function.

I also contemplated this as I cooked a duck breast [in butter] for dinner to be washed down with a good Bordeaux on Easter Sunday evening…

Being surrounded by so much good food, either cooked food in restaurants or excellent produce at the farmer’s market & small speciality grocery stores is really wonderful. But at the same time, it also makes one think very mindfully about one’s consumption. This is something that I have always practiced – partly because as an omnivore I want to have as varied a diet as possible. Here of course this is taken to a bigger extreme. People here do seem to be doing the same thing. I have been trying to make the most of quality local produce that is only available in France. For example, when my other half was here a couple of weeks ago, I roasted a Bresse chicken [image below top right] [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bresse_chicken] – which is completely different to any chicken I have had. It is more gamy & also very muscly with really solid tendons [would not like to try to bone one of these…] probably because it grows and stays out of doors, allowing it to scratch & do things outside that chickens are supposed to do…

Now that spring is here I am excited for a number of reasons. First, it is asparagus season & now I get to have both excellent green & white asparagus while I am here. This is one of my favorite vegetables – we have an asparagus bed at home & I have been thinking about that a lot recently…

Asparagus

Also, spring is the season that lots of raw milk cheeses are made – the cows finally get to go outside after being stuck in the barn during wintertime – and the new grass gives their milk a really strong & interesting flavor. So lots of soft raw milk cheeses are being made now. Because I live next to a fromagerie I am making an effort to try them – it is really wonderful!

Lots of other spring produce is appearing now too – leeks, spring onions, fresh herbs & strawberries! Meat is also good quality – I typically eat by steak extremely rare or even raw, so it is really nice to be able to get that here. I have yet to have meat or fish that is overcooked here, unlike other places in the world…

But, in my opinion, the really amazing thing here are the pastries. At home I am actually not one to enjoy desserts – they are too cloyingly sweet for me, consist of empty calories & are pretty uninteresting overall… But here patisserie offerings have fruit as their centerpiece – and the fruit flavors have been really distilled! Same thing applies for jams as well. I cannot get enough of these [& for the same reasons I like to eat lots of gelato when I am in Italy]. It seems like the sugar takes a back seat to the fruit – as it should be.

BoulangerieLorette_04

So, after viewing all these gratuitous images of food & wine you are probably wondering what the take-home message of this week’s post is. For me it is this: if you exercise your frontal lobes & use your executive function, practice cognitive control, chances are you will probably enjoy your occasional indulgences more. And isn’t that the aim of the exercise – maximizing enjoyment? The other cool thing is that you might also end up with more small change in your pocket as well…

 

 

 

 

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