La gourmandise

IMG_2715Among the desires that define the French, la gourmandise is perhaps the most universal.

It is not greed, exactly, although in excess it can be. Nor is it gluttony, although it is considered as one of the seven deadly sins. La gourmandise is the appreciation and enjoyment of good food. It is appetite. It is life itself.

Sometimes you will meet someone who says, “Je ne suis pas très gourmand.” Do not trust such people. They are either fibbing or deviants of some kind. For what is the appreciation of taste and texture, fragrance and flavour, if not a healthy enjoyment of life?

As we enter this month of indulgence, of chocolate and caramel, foie gras and fleur de sel, let us truly savour each treat we bestow upon ourselves and each other. To me that is the best part of this culture and this time of year. It is taking the time and trouble to prepare something that satisfies, whether in the freshness of its ingredients, the depth of its flavours, the originality of its presentation or simply the timeliness of its offering.

‘Gourmandise’ means different things to different people. To some it is spontaneously enjoying a crêpe at the Christmas market, to others a cornet of marrons chauds (hot chestnuts). Some prefer to be seated at table to enjoy finely flavoured macarons. Still others care little for sweets but let themselves go on the savoury – the cheese course, creamy or pungent, with ample chunks of baguette and two or three glasses of red.

Whatever it is, I say enjoy it. Pleasure is what counts, not calories or even cost. Treat yourself and savour the moment, but whatever you do, do it with gusto.

What is your favourite gourmandise? If you’re looking for inspiration, check out my top 100 things to enjoy in France and let me know what catches your fancy.



  1. acflory · December 3, 2015

    Mmm…rillettes in a crisp baguette. Nothing, but nothing is better. 🙂

    • MELewis · December 3, 2015

      Yummy. With a little glass of something to wash it down?

      • acflory · December 3, 2015

        Oh yes, oh yes…..-smacks lips-

  2. poshbirdy · December 3, 2015

    Oh no! Now I am going to struggle to get through to lunchtime. For me it’s got to be soft ripe goats cheese, olives and baguette. With some red wine. Followed by very dark chocolate with sea salt and a good coffee. I am salivating now

    • MELewis · December 3, 2015

      Sounds like a lunch menu par excéllence! Thanks, you inspired me to have bread and cheese at lunchtime and it was delicious!

  3. Lisa @ cheergerm · December 3, 2015

    Hear hear!! Cheese, bread and wine. The staffs of life for this food lover.

    • MELewis · December 3, 2015

      I know I’m preaching to the choir when it comes to you, Lisa. I have enjoyed so many food inspirations on your blog!

  4. coteetcampagne · December 3, 2015

    You are so right.
    We are currently putting together a special dinner Sautrday soir for some good friends who share our love of good food and good wine.
    Think I will post on it, just off to buy the venison and Pinot Noir!

    • MELewis · December 3, 2015

      Venison, how very adventurous of you! Looking forward to hearing how it turns out. Bon appétit!

  5. Suzanne et Pierre · December 3, 2015

    I don’t really have a sweet tooth so for me gourmandise is more a good cheese with bread or foie gras with pain d’épice with a nice Sauternes…Yummy! (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · December 3, 2015

      I love cheese all year round, but foie gras is for special occasions (and lately, husband has started making noises about cruelty – such a reversal considering I was the one who was concerned about that when I first came to France!) Love the idea of pairing it with pain d’épices. 🙂

      • Suzanne et Pierre · December 3, 2015

        I agree that foie gras is for special occasions (it is expensive and it does have this aspect of cruelty in it so you shouldn’t have too often). We learned to pair it with pain d’épices from friends at a New Year Eve’s party…it is absolutely to die for!

  6. Food,Photography & France · December 3, 2015

    Love the 100 list..although it’s definitely 98 as McDo just cannot be included and although pissaladiere is a wonderful thing, most pizzas in France are pretty dreadful. But best of all, it’s a very good gender check list:)

    • MELewis · December 3, 2015

      I’m with you on the McDo, although my brother swore it was better in France (doesn’t take much, does it?). As for pizza….we are closer to Italy in the Haute Savoie!

  7. Osyth · December 3, 2015

    My late father-in-law would be applauding this post – he used to let out squeals of delight as something tasty came in at the eyes, the nose, the mouth (and if it sizzled, the ears too) and I have in some way followed his lead. I just LOVE eating. I love sharing food with friends and family but I also love the indulgence of preparing something just for me. Not a guilty pleasure, just the pleasure of taking a little time to nurture myself. And that something can be anything at all – it can as simple or as complicated as I please because it is simply to please me. Obscurely and in direct conflict with the mouthwatering list of favourites above and in your 100, I actually crave most often baked beans (they have to be a particular brand and it isn’t Heinz) on thick white bread cut from the freshest loaf and dripping with salty butter. I can’t get baked beans in Cantal. Consider me amongst the world’s deprived!

    • MELewis · December 3, 2015

      I love people who are open about their enjoyment of good food. One of my fondest memories of my own late mother was that she clapped her hands in delight when they served her a massive plate of profiteroles in Paris. And I’m with you on the comfort food – mine is grilled cheese on sandwich bread!

      • Osyth · December 3, 2015

        What a lovely memory of your mama 🙂

  8. Mél@nie · December 3, 2015

    such a “sadistic” post, babe: I’m readin’ you and it’s rainin’ in my mouth!!! 🙂 btw, je suis très gourmande, in case you haven’t noticed yet… 😉

    • MELewis · December 5, 2015

      My dear Mél@nie, I would not want to cause pain and yet I sense that somewhere in your ‘gourmande’ self, there is enjoyment. So happy to have a bon vivant comme toi along for the ride. Vive la gourmandise!

  9. davidprosser · December 4, 2015

    The thought of fresh baguette with lashings of butter and slices of cold salted beef on top already has me salivating.
    I notice that whenever I read something from you Mel that I inevitable end up sitting/standing in a puddle.
    xxx Nadolig Llawen y cwtch mawr xxx

    • MELewis · December 5, 2015

      I love ‘lashings of butter’. Sounds like some sort of sado-masochistic ritual. And also love that I somehow inspire puddles. Gros bisous! xoxo

  10. MELewis · December 5, 2015
  11. Gilles Labruyère · December 9, 2015

    I would add : carolo, rocroi, fondue savoyarde, kouign aman, vintage champagne, boudin blanc, boudin noir, grand chablis, magret, maroille, époisse affiné au marc de bourgogne, choucroute, munster, kougelhopf, truffade … so many of them !

    • MELewis · December 10, 2015

      Some excellent references there, Monsieur, I tip my hat! Had to look up a couple – was intrigued in particular by the Breton ‘kouign aman’ which looks to be a buttery delight worthy of the region! Merci and glad to have you along for the ride!

  12. jackiemallon · December 12, 2015

    Your wish is my command. I intend to eat through to the new year! 🙂

    • MELewis · December 13, 2015

      Bravo et bonnes fêtes!

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