The Food Culture in France

Last week we wrote about Sandrine’s experiences growing up in France and how school lunch differs from American cafeteria fare. Of course, school lunch is just the tip of the iceberg.

In France, there is no commerce on Sunday so most people are at home and eat a leisurely meal that can last for hours. It is like a holiday every week. The meal is served in courses, where each might take thirty minutes or longer. That said, as a rule, the French do not graze. A meal is a meal and is aligned with family time and socialization and sitting for a while. During the week, dinner is eaten late in the day to accommodate work and school schedules, and of course, the weekday meals do not last for hours. But even in an hour or so, both lunch and dinner are consumed slowly.

On some level, eating the French way is not so different but their portions are generally half the size of what Americans are used to and wine is served with lunch and dinner. There is little in terms of fast food or prepared foods on the table and breakfast is small. It may be equivalent to a small piece of toast with coffee or hot chocolate.

There is a sense of relaxation and completeness and enjoyment aligned with food. Good, fresh, home-cooked food is desirable. Eating at a slow pace, consuming healthy fare, and socializing seem to characterize the French manner of taking meals.