Food is a HUGE part of French life. Buttery flaky croissants ripped open and dipped into bowls of freshly ground coffee for breakfast. An hour and a half sit down proper lunch every day, usually with a cheeky glass of wine. No grab and go Greggs sausage rolls over here.
And don’t get me started on the evening meal. Usually kicking off with an aperitif (relaxed drinks picking on little nibbles, crisps and olives), someone shouts ‘à table’ and everyone moves over to the beautifully decorated table where you’ll be sat for anything from 2 to 6 hours. Yes really. Christmas Eve, the night when most French families have their festive feast, I sat down just before 9pm and didn’t move my bum until 2am to roll home. Literally.
Carbs are king. Apparently it’s not a meal unless a crusty baguette is on hand. Starters, main course, cheese and salad, dessert then a coffee or digestive is totally normal for an evening meal, for a girl who thinks a bowl of cereal is an acceptable dinner this puts me to shame. Wine flows like a waterfall. Expect red meat, heavy creamy cheese covered carbs, indulgent sweet desserts, salty side dishes sauce, cream and butter. I just have no idea how French women stay so slim!
If you’re invited to dinner in France, here are my top tips:
Wear your comfiest, stretchiest trousers. This is a marathon not a sprint. You need to pace yourself and for that comfort is key. Think Homer Simpson pants rather than tight chic leather ones. Dress up from the top half as that is all most people will see at the table.
Always have a glass of water for every glass of wine. Your glass will never be empty, so if you want to finish the dinner without snoring into your steak you need to stay hydrated.
Try everything. There may be things you’ve never seen before, things that don’t appear to have even been threatened by an oven (steak tartare = raw steak?!) and things that you have no idea how to eat, but try to be open minded. Who knows what you’ll discover!
Forget your diet. Food is a pleasure, a luxury to be enjoyed with family and friends not to be pushed around your plate as you work out what has the least calories. Enjoy now and sweat is out tomorrow.
Be patient. Only take a sip of your drink once everyone else has a glass in their hand. Don’t help yourself to a handful of crisps until everyone has arrived. Basically take your time before you start slurping and snacking.