Eating raw is a new food trend, joining other alternative ways of dining, such as non-gluten, non-lactose, vegan and vegetarian. There are restaurants, books, courses and even products on the market such as raw cabbage and kale chips and frawmage, which is “cheese” without dairy products or cooking, made from, for example, a base of cashew nuts and sunflower seeds.
In French it is called la crusine or manger cru – eating raw. The idea is that by not cooking food you preserve nutritional content because proponents of the diet say that above 42C enzymes, vitamins and minerals are weakened and fibres are softened.
Followers of the diet are often vegetarian or vegan and eat organic food which means their diet is made up of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains. Some also eat non-pasteurised dairy foods, raw eggs, meat and fish.
Often health is the reason for a person changing their diet and fans say raw food helps get rid of long standing aches and pains and makes them feel much more energetic.
One young couple, Camille Lorente and Thomas Riem, spent a year touring France, visiting raw food families and they recorded their experiences in a web series and on YouTube. Before turning to raw food, Camille had been a journalist in Paris and Thomas a baker: “We used to eat junk food; pizzas, hamburgers, chips etc and until the age of 25 I don’t think I ever ate vegetables or fruit”, says Camille. “Then I decided to eat like this and I found that it gave me much more energy, a joie de vivre. I suffered from back ache which disappeared and I had no more painful periods.”
The couple stayed with hosts around France and discovered new recipes and ways of eating raw. Two years later they have adapted their diet to a Raw’tilFour version allows them to eat cooked food in the evening. They have their own website www.lafrancecrue.fr with lots of recipes and ideas.
In Brest, Brittany, a raw food chef has recently opened Ô-shun, where she offers lessons in raw food, and though she does not have a permanent restaurant, she will prepare meals to order in her recently renovated loft.
Four years ago, Arkami Shima was looking for ways to improve the health of her husband who suffered from severe back pain and constant fatigue. She saw a video about manger cru and decided to give it a try: “We started gradually but eventually found that it suited us and my husband saw a radical improvement in his health”, says Mrs Shima. “Day to day, we eat very simply. Fruit in the morning, or often no breakfast, a lot of fruit at lunchtime and an emphasis on vegetables in the evening with big salads and we eat grains and nuts for protein. If we go out then we will adapt and eat cooked food, but only vegetarian meals.
“However, there is a gourmet side to eating raw and you can create delicious meals and as I am also an artist, I love the decorative and attractive side to this way of preparing food. More and more people are interested and even if they aren’t going to go 100% raw, my courses are also popular because people want to discover something different.”
Eating raw is not to be taken lightly. Not all nutritionists agree on its health benefits and many warn that it could be more difficult to digest leaving you feeling boated and perhaps giving you diarrhoea.
However the gourmet world has given this type of meal the thumbs up with Raw, a restaurant in Paris getting a mention in the Michelin Guide 2017 with this appreciation: “Willian Pradeleix has invested in a new concept, “Raw”, in a bid to preserve the vitamins and nutritional value of non-transformed ingredients. The experience is not only intellectual; the taste buds are also wooed. An example, cockles, citrus butter and pickled rhubarb. Healthy and tasty!”