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French Eating Rituals

21st century has made us very arrogant, especially to food. Although the quality of food has obviously decreased in the past few centuries, our demands have risen up to the skies. See,  many people now exclude certain foods from their I-like-it list. This can especially be seen in the American eating habits. Parents try to persuade their children to eat vegetables, because veggies are not cool anymore.

Photo by PetitPlat – Stephanie Kilgast

You should forget every single eating habit you had before you come to Paris. You can plan your sightseeing the way you want, go to the museums and skip the masterpieces, I mean, it’s your choice, but when you’re invited to a dinner or organize one yourself in a classy French restaurant, you should mind some of the French stereotypes.

France is a country of food, good food. Every single Frenchman appreciates it and is always ready to find time for the meal.

Average French Meal

An average French meal consists of meat as the main dish. Vegetables are usually reserved for the side dish. This doesn’t mean that they are underestimated though.

The dish has to be decorated and served accordingly. Frenchman are anything but minimalistic when it comes to food. You will find different types of the same product on one table. For example, there will be a big variety of bread. Although the French are famous for their love to baguettes, other types are also consumed.

Despite that, bread is mainly reserved for breakfasts, cut out slices and spread butter and jam on them. Add the coffee, and there you go, you have a real French breakfast.

Photo by ilmungo

When the main course is over, there is a small time-off before the dessert. And that’s the Cheese Time. You won’t find a decent French table without cheese. Imagine all the possible cheese types, the French would love to taste all of them. Moreover, you can find around 500.000 types of cheese in France. The popularity of some of them depends on the region.

Then comes the dessert party. After walking in the streets of Paris and seeing the number of sweets shops, you would expect the French dessert is full of cakes, chocolates, éclairs, macarons, and other temptations. Surprisingly, the most common French dessert consists of fruits. Maybe they produce all the sweets for the tourists so that they get fat and the French stay slim. Even if it’s not just a stereotype (about French hating Americans, Germans, and a few other nations), you should visit Le Maison du Chocolat. French dessert is also a good idea for souvenirs.

Timing

When you go to a meal with French, don’t expect to get out of there in 10 minutes. Moreover, you should reserve hours for it. The shortest meal is breakfast, planned approximately at 8 am. Of course, it depends how busy of a person you are, but there are still some traditions. The most common breakfast or the French is the croissant and coffee/hot chocolate. The procedure becomes more complicated if it’s a family, then you would see one of the parents going to a store for a freshly-baked baguette early in the morning.

Then comes lunch, at 1 pm. Frankly speaking, the ritual for lunch has changed a bit. If you went to France years ago, you would expect to spend an hour eating lunch, you should look for around 40 minutes now.

Photo by ilmungo

Some people will consider having dinner at 8 pm too late, but that’s how the French like it. Some of them will sit in front of the TV, but the majority will get a good bottle of wine and enjoy the meal at a kitchen table. The French also don’t like eating alone, so if you found new friends in Paris, you might often be invited to a dinner or lunch. If you do, accept the invitations. Where else can you witness the French eating ritual.

While the French love to spend hours on food, you don’t always have to play according to their rules. You can have a snack or a hamburger in 10 minutes and go on with your work. But if you’re invited to a dinner, you should turn your French button on for a couple of hours. There are a few reasons, but the first one is the habit of eating very slow.

Buying Food

This is one of the aspects that I completely love about France. You can inspect the food as long and as much as you want. French are obsessed with freshness. And it doesn’t refer to meat only, anything they buy has to be fresh. They will go down to the store early in the morning just to get fresh bread. When you enter a supermarket, you will notice many people not buying food, but reading it. They have to be sure it’s up do date and that  the ingredients are not harmful.

Photo by ilmungo

In fact, you might want to visit the supermarkets more often if you’re on budget travel. It’s also easier if you don’t speak French, as some restaurants might not have English menus.

In the aftermath, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a restaurant, at home, or at a picnic. Make sure you have appropriate soundtrack of your vacation. There is one thing we all can definitely learn from the French: food can be enjoyed in so many ways.

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