If Chinese people are getting fat eating American exports, wait'll they visit Boulangerie Phillipe.

Blame It on the French 

If Chinese people are getting fat eating American exports, wait'll they visit Boulangerie Phillipe.

Last week I read a news story about how obesity was becoming an increasingly serious health problem in China. The wire story was a subtle attack on our American values! Imagine thinking that our beloved exports McDonald's and KFC could possibly be luring once-lithe Chinese citizens away from their traditional healthy diets and seducing them with the provocatively named Big Macs (all gooey with "Special Sauce") and moist, succulent fried chicken breasts! And then, to further heap blame on us Big Fat Americans, the story suggested that one of the reasons why a third of the people in China were morphing into lard-asses was that they had adopted the American tradition of "eating at night in front of the television."

One of my flag-waving neighbors, Miss Cellulite, sneered at the idea that, as she put it, "those Communists were picking up bad eating habits by imitating Godly American culture." If anyone was to blame, she insisted, it was "the French, those sensualists, with their cream puffs and buttery sauces." I reminded her that in several visits to Paris, I'd never seen anything like the beer-bellied fatsos and porcine pubescents we have right here in Cowtown.

That said, I recently indulged myself with a sumptuous -- and fattening -- French lunch in the heart of all-American Prairie Village. The new Boulangerie Phillipe (6937 Tomahawk) serves the very best kind of midi -- midday meal -- for $7.95: a choice of that day's quiche or chef Frederic Phillipe's version of a croque monsieur (the ham-and-cheese sandwich that's typically dipped in egg and sautéed in butter), which here is slathered with creamy béchamel sauce and toasted. Lunches include a soup or salad and a small dessert.

The pâtisserie serves lunch only until 2 p.m., though, and there are only four vinyl-swathed tables inside the tiny place and a few more out on the sidewalk. Customers order at a counter from a blonde who looks like a young Brigitte Bardot. While I was waiting around for the food to arrive, I salivated over the equally sexy stuff in the display cases, which were loaded with beautiful pastries and little tins of chocolate pot de crème. All of which can be eaten there or taken home to snarf down in front of the tube during the Late Show With Dave Letterman.

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