Tuesday, April 17, 2012



I could rave about French food until the cows come home. And chances are, even with my belly happily full of Chipotle and deep dish pizza and corn on the cob and all of the other delicious foods that are so incredibly American, I will always save a little part of my heart for the way that the French eat. There is a completely different mentality when it comes to food, and enjoying what you eat, where you eat it, and with whom. Meals are a sacred production--the French meal has been deemed a "world intangible heritage" by UNESCO! That means that, even though it is not a place (which normally receive the status of "world heritage"), French gastronomy sets itself apart as a cultural icon.

Before meals, one of the most treasured customs is the apéritif. From the latin word "aperire", meaning "to open", the apéritif is the official start of a meal, without actually yet sitting down to eat. It consists of drinks and appetizers--anything from crackers to veggies to different meats or sausages. The apéritif can be rather simple, or very elaborate, and will last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, if not longer. Part of why a real French meal takes so long (I have had 5 hour dinners from apéro to after-dinner coffee) is the time spent enjoying every course and the company. The apéritif is simply the very beginning of that!

L'apéritif is a ritual that I have come to love. It sets a convivial mood for the meal and acts as a great transition to whatever is on the menu. It's just wonderful, and I am planning on instituting l'apéritif in America!

pax christi.

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