10 European Habits You Should Adopt
The Europeans got a lot of things right on how to enjoy life. Below are the top ten things that you should try for yourself.
Although we may still be a bit far away from the 33 hour work week a-la-France there are still some pleasures of the everyday that we can gleam from generations of Europeans before us.
My Top 10 European Habits to Adopt
1) Eat outside- There is something so natural about enjoying your meal outside. The music of the wind, sun, or stars really does add a special flavor to the meal. I know not everywhere has weather permitting but when you can: Do!
You will almost feel that you are eating in the French countryside. And why not?
2) Shop daily- When you are only buying ingredients for one meal you can concentrate on finding the best. It is not simply grabbing pre-packaged tomatoes. It is smelling, touching, squeezing, and looking at the color. This is really what elevates a meal to the next level. When you use this level of ingredients very little else is needed. Some olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of local flavor will make these simple ingredients dance. Try it for a week and see how you feel about preparing, shopping, and the best part: EATING!
3) Dress to be seen- Now it is rare that you find me in heels and most European women only wear 1-2 inch heels maximum. You can absolutely rock the flat. But take moment to consider how YOU feel in your skin and the clothes that adorn it before leaving the house. Even if you are only going to sit on a park bench or pick up a missing item from the grocery store. Always be confident in what you have chosen to wear. As Coco Chanel said "You can be over dressed but never over elegant".
4) Have Friends Over For Dinner- this tradition is universal. However the main event in this European tradition is more epicurean than entertainment focused. This does not have to be a two-day cooking event. A European girl usually has at least two recipes for this type of occasion up her sleeve. One is easy that can be thrown together regardless of the time of year (like a roasted chicken with season vegetables see my post for the recipe) and one more complicated that takes time but will really bring the wow factor. Ask your mother or grandmother for their go-to recipes. They probably have some tried and true tricks up their sleeves. Or there is always Pinterest!
5) Go to a museum- This may sound cliché but it is absolutely true. Europeans can not get enough of art museums. It is as enriching for the mind as the delicious food is for the soul. This is at least a monthly occurrence for most. Although to be fair Europe does boast some of the best museums in the world.
6) Talk to a stranger- Many Americans are scared to have a random conversation with a stranger. People always seem amazed when I recant tales of those I have accidentally run into through simply approaching them. While in New Orleans a few weeks ago my friend was absolutely drooling over a fellow patron’s old school camera. I walked right up to her and asked to see it. She was incredibly kind. She ended up being a famous photographer there on business and even took some portraits of us. Don't be too scared to have a wonderful random experience.
7) Make an Incredible Dessert- So many Americans feel so much guilt around food. Dessert especially seems to be a source of shame. Spend time making a truly decadent dessert from scratch. You can use amazing seasonal fruit to expand the flavor. My inclination is if you use whole ingredients that you control and spend the time creating a masterpiece the guilt will disappear. There is such a difference between eating store bought candy, cookies, and ice cream. Once you start down this path only the truly good stuff (that is worth it) will be enough.
8) Start with Coffee and End With Champagne- Wake up and start your day off with an amazing cup of coffee (see the post about the perfect coffee preparation for more). Enjoy a glorious day jolted by your morning beverage and end the day with a fabulous dinner accompanied by a glass of Champagne. It doesn't need to be an annual special occasion. Just a regular night to celebrate friends, family, food, or just you!
9) Go to a Market-Whether you are shopping for the ingredients for that nights dinner, looking for an piece of art, antiques, or nothing at all stroll through a local market. It is an amazing place to find one-of-a-kind local art, rare antiques, and of course seasonal and locally grown produce. You never know what you may find.
10) Take the time- The best European habit to adopt is to slow down. Walk down a street in the sun, sit on a park bench, indulge in a 3-hour dinner. Take the time to take time. Everyone is busy, and life has a lot of things we try and fill it with. But don't let that get in the way of experiencing it. Do a face mask, make a cup of steaming tea, talk to a friend, or even write a letter. Take. Your. Time.
Let me know which of my top 10 you have tried or are exited to try!