Anorexia and Paris: A Not-So Dynamic Duo
The air awakens my features as I step out of my hotel and into the square illuminated by the Parisian sun. I smile when I hear the sweet sound of opera and turn my head to see the woman from the previous morning absorbed in song. In order for my mom and I to reach our destination, Le Souffle, we stroll towards the center of the square, watching children consume whatever treats their parents packed in picnic baskets, dropping crumbs onto the green grass. Couples recline in the greenery with their arms intertwined, sharing cigarettes as smoke diffuses into the air, mixing with the smoke from cigarettes of two women striding out of a café.
The women toss their cigarettes and continue on their way. Their slim shoulders miraculously cease to snap under the weight of their large designer bags, and they wear sophisticated coats that exude status and compliment their smooth manes. Click click click, go their heels, carrying toned legs practically out of fashion magazines. Their jaws are sharp, carved like a sculpture representing the highest form of female beauty. Their legs shoot out from under their coats with circumferences so small, yet not too small.
My mom and her sweet tooth can’t help but give in to the intrigue of macaroons in the window of a busy café, and so we wander in, deciding which sweet, colorful sandwich-shaped cookie look most delicious to us. I crave the authentic sweets, but the image of the two women haunt me. I eye my stomach as it sits under my sweater hiding layers of fat; layers that the women around me, many of whom are identical to the women from earlier, never see when they look in the mirror.
Around the corner, past the stone-covered sidewalks and across a sprawling garden, is Le Souffle. The bright blue front of the restaurant draws instant attention, its name inscribed in enticing gold letters emblematic of Parisian charm. There’s a drawing on the door of a man in a suit and top hat holding up an illuminated fresh-baked souffle, ensuring the customer of the its magnificence.
Inside, a waitress smiles and shows us to our seats and hands us a menus boasting of beautiful souffles. The list of options is seemingly endless until we finally decide on splitting an egg, cheese, and spinach souffle followed by a chocolate one for desert.
The image of the women return to my mind and I interrogate my mother about the nutritional value of each soufleé. What else is in the egg and cheese one besides eggs and cheese? What are they cooked with? What about the chocolate one? I nibble on the egg, cheese, and spinach, hesitating because it strays from the strict set of guidelines I made a couple days before for my food. Over two years later, the memory of its fluffy deliciousness, complemented by the savory taste of fresh eggs and spinach, prevails in my mind. However, my paranoia of consuming a mound of fat remains a far more vivid memory. The chocolate souffle is rich in sweetness and heavenly in flavor, yet I can only swallow two bites before I dread the sugar and fats oozing through my stomach and conjoining to form another layer of fat.
After consuming a total of six bites throughout the course of the meal, all I can think of is the content, not the taste, of the food. When I exit the restaurant, I see women around me who likely finished a lunch of a single avocado. My surroundings hardly register with me because I am distracted. Nevertheless, I am hungry, so I pull out a superfood bar, eat half of it, toss the rest of it in the trash, and plop a few raw almonds into my mouth.