Monday, January 9, 2012

a note on food


A French friend told me a while ago that all French people anticipate every single meal. After breakfast, it's time to start thinking about lunch. As soon as lunch is finished, dinner is being prepared mentally. He also told me that if a French person wakes up and doesn't think about breakfast right away, something must be wrong.

And so, with attitudes like this, I cannot live in France for a year without at least once dedicating a whole post to FOOD! And I can just about guarantee this will not be the last such post. France is world-renowned for, among other things, its extensive gastronomical history and elaborate food culture. In fact, I took an entire university course dedicated to French food! With my year already almost half finished, I have made innumerable observations about the culture of food and dining for the French. Food is sacred here, as is anything related to food--it's preparation, ingredients, cultivation, accompanying beverages, you name it.

I've been blessed to have shared many meals--breakfast, lunch, and dinner--with French people and I am becoming more and more familiar with a typical French meal and its associated rituals. In general, dining is a much different experience in France compared to in America.
  • L'apéritif--Both lunch and dinner usually start with a cocktail. Nothing crazy. This drink simply sets the mood for the meal, encourages conversation, and incites your appetite!
  • Le fromage--After the main course of a meal, out comes the cheese plate! The French habit is to wipe your plate with a bit of bread so that it's clean for this delicious next course. Some popular post-meal cheeses are Camembert, chèvre (goat's cheese), Comté, Neufchâtel, Morbier, and Emmental. None of these cheeses are overly powerful (i.e. no strong, smelly blue cheeses! Even those these are delicious!), as they are meant to cleanse your palate and help digest your meal. The French love their cheese, and so do I!
  • Le dessert--A meal, any meal, would not be complete without dessert. Even at lunch, dessert is expected even if it a piece of fruit or a yogurt.
These are merely a few of my observations and insights into French cuisine and dining. There is so much more to be said--I haven't even mentioned bread or wine! So much goodness that, frankly, America misses the mark on in so many ways. I am eating so well here, and I'm taking every opportunity to try something new or indulge in a delicious, fresh pastry! The possibilities are's a good thing I still have 4 months left!

wine and dessert. perfect.

pax christi.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Maurasaurus,
    After reading this chapter of your adventure, I conclude that I must have some French in me also, because I am always looking forward to my next meal!!! In fact, we do have Alsatian ancestors! (Check Grandma Schelhammer's family tree that Aunt Anita researched).