I recently read an article that said people’s eating habits change in subtle ways when they move to France. It’s not surprising given France is the home of fine dining and wining.
So just how much have our eating and drinking habits changed?
1. Drinking tea without milk
We’ve done this for years, well before making the move. Plus, we’re not and never have been traditional tea drinkers. We love the finer blends of green and black teas, and always without milk.
2. Spicy food is hard to come by
This was the subject of yesterday’s post. There are many foody benefits when you move to France but one of the things you’ll find yourself waving goodbye to is spicy food. While it’s easy to get a curry on the other side of the Channel, in France you’re better off cooking your own.
3. Eating offal
I confess before I had to give up eating meat, I loved a spot of offal: sweetbreads, veal kidneys, veal liver, foie gras. My beloved, not so much, but he’d been scarred for life by his mother’s kidney concoction – don’t ask. However, even I would’ve passed on the local delicacy of pieds paquets (stewed sheep’s feet and tripe stewed), and don’t get me started on andouillette, surely well beyond the pale.
4. Going out is about eating out
In the UK, a (proper) night out rarely includes eating a meal, unlike in France. This is my kind of country, I don’t go out to drink, I go out to eat.
5. No more snacking
The French don’t snack, there’s no eating between meals. A habit we’ve embraced with some fervour. We eat only at meals times or at the specified snack time of “gôuter” or, of course, “apéro”.
6. Swapping pints for demis, or even less
My beloved now only ever orders a small beer (approx. 1/3 pint). You’ll know you’ve become native in France when you don’t feel embarrassed ordering a small beer, and probably just the one.
7. Wine only with food
Gone are the days of ordering a bottle of Chardonnay and three glasses on a Friday night out (see 4. above). Wine and dine rhyme and it’s no coincidence. In France wine is to accompany food (unless it’s rosé and it’s summer). If you want to get sozzled – I don’t – there are plenty of other choices.
And that goes hand-in-hand with my next point………
8. No more binge drinking
Despite moving to the land of the apéro and endless varieties of wine, it’s time to put your binge drinking behind you and learn to drink in a more civilized manner. A bottle of wine easily serves four people in France. We’ve drunk less (and better) since making the move.
9. Get your cheese fix BEFORE dessert
In France there’s a world of delicious cheese right on your doorstep. And now you’re allowed to eat it with every meal…….as long as it comes before dessert. Sadly, I’m no longer allowed dairy, but i can still savour the aroma!
10. Eating a proper lunch
Even though the heyday of the two hour sit down lunch might be (mostly) a thing of the past in France, it’s still common for work contracts to include a rule that prohibits dining at one’s desk. French workers also get restaurant vouchers to encourage them to eat in the nearest brasserie. We’ve embraced this habit with gusto.
11. Swapping your weekend fry-up for viennoiserie
We’ve swapped our Saturday morning bacon sarnie for a pain au chocolat, croissant or pain au raisin. Though, as a special treat, I do sometimes cook my beloved a full English.
12. Eating crepes all year round
In the UK, crepes (or pancakes) are usually reserved for Shrove Tuesday but in France, praise be, you can eat them all year round, and we do. Crepes Grand Marnier, anyone?
13. Enjoying a baguette with dinner (but no butter allowed!)
The importance of the role of the baguette in French food can’t really be underestimated. We now buy fresh bread daily, sometimes twice a day. Once for breakfast, once for dinner. If my beloved does the bread shopping, he nearly always bites the end off before he gets it home.
Just remember the following, butter only goes on a baguette at breakfast NEVER at lunch or dinnertime.
14. Espresso after dinner
While you might previously have avoided a coffee after dinner, thinking it would ruin a good night’s sleep, it won’t be long before you’re ordering an espresso after every meal. Neither lunch nor dinner just won’t feel the same without that little shot of caffeine.
15. No more filling your glass of wine to the top
While it might not seem like such a bad thing to slurp from a glass of wine that’s full to the brim at home, in France it’s a big no no. So take your time, there’s plenty to go around. Remember, a bottle of wine is easily enough for four people here.
16. You’ll discover fruit and vegetables
Once you see what’s on offer at French markets, or even les primeurs (fruit and veg stores), you’ll suddenly take pleasure in sticking to the “five-a-day” rule. In France apples taste like apples and melons like melons. And you’ll have to get used to what’s in season too. I’ve always eaten plenty of fruit and veg so nothing’s really changed other than what I eat is more local, seasonal, and organic.
17. Quality over quantity
This pretty much applies to everything. The French would much rather have a small portion of something fabulous, than a large portion of mediocre. And, you know what, they’re so right and you’ll soon get used to eating less but better.
18. You’ll eat more shellfish
We had never eaten oysters before moving to France but we reasoned 60 million French people couldn’t be wrong, and we were right! We now regularly eat oysters and mussels and all manner of things that live in shells.
19. You’ll eat a lot of pizza
You might expect this to happen if you’d moved to Italy, but in fact the French are one of the world’s biggest scoffers of pizza. To put it into numbers the French ate a stomach-churning 819 million pizzas in 2015. We’ll no doubt be contributing to that record being broken in 2020.