Quintessentially French – food customs you didn’t know about
France is well-placed at the heart of the world’s food fantasies, however cliché a love for French cuisine may seem nowadays. However, authentic French eating isn’t all about cuisses des grenouilles (frog legs) and escargots (snails). In the lavender fields of Provence and dusty, wood-planked pantries in Paris, there hide many beautiful and quintessentially French traditions surrounding food which the rest of the world may only catch briefly, like the scent of freshly-baked bread while walking down a cobbled street in Alsace.
Bol de petit-dejeuner
Quite literally translated to “a bowl of breakfast”, this hearty welcome of the morning can consist of just about anything. Every morning Maman heats up a saucepan of fresh milk for café au lait (coffee with milk) and a bol: a delicious heap of crusty, left-over bread or croissant slices smeared with chocolate- or hazelnut spread, and drowned in warm milk, tea or café au lait in the comfort of a deep bowl.
Galette de Rois
A “King’s Cake” is one of the most sociable treats the French indulge in – this pastry is used as an ideal excuse to go visit someone. Served traditionally on the 6th of January (as part of the Eve of Epiphany celebrations), this cake can be enjoyed in social settings throughout the month. It is baked with a fève (a bean, or a porcelain figurine) in it, and the finder of this trinket is “King for the day” (among children), or obligated to buy the next cake (among adults).
Un aperitif and un digestif
In a French family, not including un verre de vin (glass of wine) at dinner would be as strange as leaving out a food group. After the evening meal one would commonly enjoy small glass of French-quality brandy or cognac, as a sweeter end to the grape wine that was enjoyed as an accompaniment to the meal. In cold weather, a restorant of cognac may also be sipped on during the late afternoon.
Perhaps it is not French food per sè that captures hearts from all over the world, but perhaps the reverence of food they embody: nothing is ever eaten on-the-go, but rather is slurped, mouthed and relished for hours in the company of loved ones, and no meal can ever truly be completed before the two-hour mark. Surrounded by friends and family, what could not be delicious?