The French Paradox is the theory that France has an unexpectedly low prevalence of coronary heart disease compared to levels that would be predicted by their high consumption of fats. Aside from high-fat foods, wine is portrayed by English media to be a staple of the French diet. In this article, I explore the wine-drinking cultures in Nice, France, and London, England, that were revealed by conducting semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and descriptive surveys. I describe two mealtime vignettes of my ethnographic experience that are symbolic of my main findings from this study. Specifically, I find that residents of Nice consume wine in smaller portions, often during shared social experiences at meals, whereas Londoners are more likely to consume wine in larger portions and more frequently for relaxation than their counterparts in Nice. Wine connoisseurship in London is a relatively novel practice, and wine drinking is often associated with the potential for inebriation, whereas mindful appreciation of high-quality wines is a staple element of French identity in Nice. Further epidemiological research is needed to determine causality of French wine culture's impact on cardiovascular health. However, it is evident from my research that the aesthetics of French wine culture may be a powerful tool to promote mindfulness and moderation.
A Tale of Two Cities: Differences in Wine Culture in Nice and London
Lacey Gibson is a freelance food writer, global health research consultant, and RYT-200 yoga teacher. She graduated in 2017 with a Masters of Science in Global Health and Population from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she was also a Food Literacy Project Fellow. Lacey spent the summer of 2014 participating in Washington University's “France for the Pre-Med” in Nice, France, and served as executive assistant for the environmental organization Big Green Machine in London, England. During this time, she collected data for her honors thesis, which is presented in her article in this issue.
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Lacey Gibson; A Tale of Two Cities: Differences in Wine Culture in Nice and London. Gastronomica 1 November 2018; 18 (4): 71–81. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2018.18.4.71
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