The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

May 4

On the way home from the Hemingway Bar, I shopped for dinner. I bought a little "rumsteak" at the butcher, cheap at about $3.50 but incredibly tender; I know from experience.

I had it with salad and some Domaine de La Perriere, from the Côte Roannaise vineyards. Then some blue cheese from the Auvergne. Hey, ho, an average meal.

I used to eat whatever I could easily lay my hands on to fill up without gaining weight. Now I am paying more attention to food, taking more time in planning and preparing my meals. There is almost nothing in my fridge. I shop every day and generally use things up. For instance, I baked a chicken the other night, artfully tied up with string by the butcher. The next day there was chicken noodle soup for lunch and a salad with chicken and chevre for dinner. Granted, I won't want any more chicken for a few days.

Food here is so much more than fuel; it's one of life's available delights. When I sit down to eat, it's with the TV off, a candle lighted, a glass of wine, and I always have two courses at dinner. I don't count calories anymore or avoid carbohydrates and fats. I eat what appeals, whether it's a tarte tatin at teatime or toast with real butter and black cherry jam for breakfast.

It comes down, I think, to recognizing the importance of food and respecting the cravings of the stomach. When I eat things I want, I don't eat as much and it makes me happy. As I recall, it's when I'm unhappy that I glut. I never weigh myself; that's just too depressing because, no matter what, I'm never going to be a waif. But my blue jeans are loose. Maybe it's the stairs. I prefer to think it's happiness. That's right. I'm here in Paris on the happiness diet.

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