Fox Cities Book Festival: Ronnie Hess

A new addition to the Eat Smart series of travel books, Eat Smart France is the work of author Ronnie Hess. In her book festival presentation, Hess discussed the book and then turned the focus entirely to a study of the history of bread in France.

Have Baguette, Will Travel was an informative presentation, though a bit dull all in all. I’d hoped for something a little more specific to the book’s main topic: Eating healthy in France. There were some interesting notes.

  • One kind of little french cookie is called a ‘punition’, which literally means punishment. Rather apt if you think about how you’ll need to punish yourself with exercise for eating too many of them.
  • For those looking to eat gluten-free, there are some resources online for printable cards that state (in the language you need) that you require gluten-free meals and would like to know any alternative foods that they could serve you. (Might need to premake a few of these for my food allergies before the next trip.) Takes out a lot of the guesswork.
  • Trinity of French culinary culture:  Bread, Wine, Cheese
Hess ended her talk with samples of Poilâne and rice pudding. The Poilâne was apparently from a fromagerie in Green Bay. I didn’t catch the name, but I believe it might be Nala’s fromagerie down by 172 & GV. I definitely want to find the place. Hess made the rice pudding herself. I was hesitant to try it (rice… pudding?) but figured it was worth a taste. Delicious! I am going to have to attempt to make it sometime.

Ronnie Hess

BIO:  Ronnie Hess earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is an award-winning journalist who has had a long and passionate interest in food, especially French food. She has lived and worked in France as a reporter for CBS News and as an English teacher; her food and travel writing has appeared in national and regional publications. She studied cooking with Liane Kuony at the Postilion Restaurant and School of Culinary Arts in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Bio from Hess’s profile on the Fox Cities Book Festival‘s website.


One thought on “Fox Cities Book Festival: Ronnie Hess

  1. Ronnie Hess

    Dear Olive — I’m so sorry that you found my talk “a bit dull,” but I’m glad you liked the rice pudding, made with 2% milk. I thought you might like to know that the publisher of the “Eat Smart” culinary travel guide series defines “smart” as eating knowledgeably and safely. Eating “healthy” can mean different things to different people, depending on individual taste and sensitivity. I find it interesting that when I field questions from my audiences, many people seem to think that French food isn’t healthy, and that it may be too rich and high in animal fats. And yet, the French are among the thinnest people in the industrialized world. I think the key is that they eat in moderation, integrate fruits and vegetables into the menu at lunch and dinner, savor their food, enjoying it with family and friends. When they have an occasional treat, it isn’t a punishment but a pleasure, and they don’t feel guilty about it.


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