The French are known for their passion for dining and all of the rituals that come along with “la nourriture”t. This is nothing new of course. French dining culture has existed for centuries, and the rest of the world has a great deal to learn from the French’s culinary appreciation and finesse. So, if you’re looking to embrace your dining experience and impress your guests, then here are five things you can take away from the French.
The Apero is Essential
Short for aperitif, the “apero” is an integral part of meal time for the French. Don’t even think about diving straight into dinner without pulling out a martini glass and enjoying an aperitif to prepare your palate.
While some Americans may think that drinking alcohol before a meal is downright alcoholism, the French see it differently. Sitting down before mealtime is less about getting a buzz, and more about warming up the setting. Rather than diving straight into attacking their plate, they enjoy a bit of lighthearted conversation over a cocktail or glass of wine with others at the table. Depending on what you’re drinking, the apero can even promote digestion and prevent overeating.
While there are plenty of French people who buy their groceries in supermarkets, the real foodies prioritize freshness. With access to so many wonderful bakeries and produce markets, it would be a shame to buy something frozen or prepackaged. The French always prioritize seasonal ingredients that can be purchased locally.
In other words, summertime is known for fresh tomato salads while in winter you’ll see more dishes with potatoes and squash. Most importantly, meat should be purchased directly from a butcher not from a store covered in cellophane. “Beurk!” as the French would say.
There is a reason why the French have lower rates of obesity than Americans. You’ll never see a French person faced down shoveling piles of food into their mouth. French culture prioritizes taking things slowly and appreciating every bite. Take time to appreciate the aromas and texture of each dish you’re eating and take breaks between each course. Mindfully eating means taking your time instead of stuffing yourself.
Salad is Served Last
While Americans are known for eating salads before a meal, the French prefer it the other way around. Typically, salad is served at the end of the meal as a way to bring the meal to a close with a fresh and light finale. You can forget about dousing it in heavy loads of ranch dressing, either. French typically use light vinaigrettes and skip the croutons.
Bread is Essential
Despite bread having a bad reputation in the United States for being carb heavy, the French see it as an essential addition to the dinner table. Most French families take a trip to the boulangerie every single day for their fresh baguette.
Eating a bit of bread with your meal doesn’t just help fill you up, but it also can be used to wipe off your plate at the end of meal time ensuring there is nothing left to be wasted.