Five years ago I received a phone call from the CEO of Veuve Clicquot, Mireille Guiliano, to illustrate a “little book” she was writing called “French Women Don’t Get Fat”. It ended up being an international bestseller, and was followed by “French Women for All Seasons”, “Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire” and now the highly anticipated “French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook”.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of spending time with Mireille, including sharing some of the best meals of my life (Emeril once cooked us a 7 course dinner). She is a remarkable woman and good friend. I thought I’d ask her a few questions……
R. Nichols: Did you ever imagine, when you sat down to write French Women Don’t Get Fat, that you would be publishing your fourth book someday?
MG: Not in a million years, which shows that life is lived in stages. It is what I describe in Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire as acting in enlightened self interest, which is not a selfish act but is creating your own luck and opportunities and making the most of them.
R. Nichols: I was so thrilled when you contacted me to illustrate French Women Don’t Get Fat – and then 3 subsequent books. How is it that you discovered R. Nichols?
MG: I always send postcards when I travel for business or pleasure…to customers, friends and now to some of the people who follow me as an author. Once I was in San Francisco for a week and ran out of cards so I went to Gump’s near my hotel and found these amazing ones, especially the girl on a scooter in black and orange. I was still with Veuve Clicquot Champagne so the color was perfect. Everyone identified me with the girl, a busy beaver, full of energy and always on the move. Looking at the back of the card I thought the artist was French. I remember buying whatever they had in stock…maybe 40 cards. Every person I sent a card to wrote to ask where I had found them? So, I knew then that I had discovered real talent. After that, my staff contacted R. Nichols for some holiday cards and again we got lots of compliments. I kept going to Kate’s Paperie in the Village and bought various cards in their lovely boxes and offered some to friends as little gifts, always a treat.
R. Nichols: Did you consider any other artists for the project?
MG: To be honest, it went like this: the publisher had an art department and they came up with stuff I did not like at all. It was just not me; it was very stiff and old fashioned even though perfectly fine if one likes that style. I didn’t. So, we talked about alternatives, and I offered my five cents: friend fashion designers both in Paris and New York who would have been delighted to do it and R. Nichols. They liked all the ideas, but when I sent them samples of R. Nichols’s work, they loved it. It clearly has proven to be a winning match.
R. Nichols: Do you have a favorite recipe in the new Cookbook?
MG: I have many but my favorite, favorite is no doubt the MBC (magical breakfast cream…with no cream). I’m addicted to it because it’s a complete breakfast. It is easy to make and absolutely yummy (and slimming)
R. Nichols: Nutrition aside, what is your favorite food?
MG: Dark chocolate.
R. Nichols: What is your easiest piece of advice for people to live well?
MG: To eat with your senses, always at a table, slow down, enjoy and then MOVE
R. Nichols: I love Paris. If I had to choose a favorite nook in Paris, it would be a toss up between Place des Vosges and Saint Sulpice. Do you have one?MG: That’s a tough one. I have so many, but I’ll pick one close to home, the Fontaine Medicis in the Luxembourg Garden. I love it early in the morning when the sun shines from the Pantheon down through the trees and the ducks wake up and enjoy bathing in the morning sun. Later I enjoy going there to read, write, and occasionally meet friends. It’s quiet and my secret garden.