In France, who still eats Entrée, Plat & Dessert at home, and when?

When the French eat out, whether in a cafeteria or a restaurant, they seem to consider that a meal is incomplete if it doesn't consist of a starter, main course & dessert, plus bread. Do they still eat like this at home, and, if so, when?

We live in a very multi-national area, close to Geneva, and have relatively few French friends. Those we've asked say that they only have time to eat properly at the weekends, what with both parents at work & the daily rush of kid's activities, etc. Is this the norm nowadays? Most of our shops, apart from the large chains, still take two hours for lunch. Our 'core time' at the office provided for two-hour lunchtimes if desired, & some of the staff would always take their two hours as they would go home & serve/eat lunch.

In a country of 60 million, of course, every variant of meal-eating is likely to be found, but the relative rigidity of the meal-eating times, and of the meal composition, at least when eating out, makes me think that there must be something I haven't understood about the main approaches here to meals. French cooking magazines only seem to exacerbate the problem, as they show a daily mix of meals that most people would need a full-time cook to prepare.

So what & when do the French eat at home? Can anyone shed some light on this, or know of any websites that cover this aspect of la vie française? A particular issue arises with vegetables. Salade apart, these are mainly seen in pitifully small portions in most restaurants. Who, then, is buying the veg in the shops & markets? Are vegetables considered fillers at home so that a 'good' restaurant doesn't serve too many?

Any insights will be gratefully received.

It should be just as you my first meal was around 2.....and it is my last meal too.

In our rural dept of Cantal there aren't loads of brilliant restaurants so eating at home is more popular than eating out. When they do eat out, it tends to be regional menu. We eat at home and our neighbours homes a lot (all French) and we generally have a full 3 course plus cheese plus bread with all courses. Aperitifs always before-hand and plenty of Bordeaux red wine. Occasionally we do a British or Asian main course and whilst our friends are sometimes a little apprehensive they usually love the change, as many have never been out of France or eaten in "exotic" restaurants when in the big French cities. We do have a few, very good restaurants in Cantal and they are popular, but tend to be far apart and for special occasions like anniversaries etc

I wasn't criticizing you or your cooking Barbara just responding to Pete Thomas.

Now hold on there.

You need to know that some chefs make a huge effort to make things taste and look

good. We are in an age where many if not most people get out a stock cube.

Not us.

In my restaurant I had a game stock, veal stock, chicken stock and a lamb stock during

winter when I cooked a lot of game AND very rich braised lamb dishes.

I favour duck.....once, of course the stock has cooled down, chilled and been defatted.

I AM ....NEVER been a lazy chef and hope that clients improve their knowledge, interest

and palats.

TV chefs promote the interest foodie soap opera but there are some great chefs out there.

One of the nest is at Azak St Sebastien.

Yes they do use chicken stock for all dishes. Just laziness on their part and lack of discrimination on the part of the client.

Where I am people are quite traditional and eat the three course way but really they eat their vegetables as a starter and don't really mix them with the main dish, except green beans. Women years younger that me still make soup for the evening and prepare their own patés and foie gras. I, however, eat my main meal in the evening. I have cereal and coffee for breakfast, a marmite sandwich and yoghurt for lunch and I cook something like ratatouille and couscous, or a pasta or rice dish in the evening. I tend to eat meat at weekends as it is very expensive.

Just the one Vic, thats more than enough ;-)

Retired British living in Brittany and with a young family. Lunch today cold artichoke with vinaigrette (artichoke a gift but cooked by me), main cold meat with sheep cheese salad including grilled peppers, tomatoes (ours next week maybe), our basil, free range hard boiled eggs in olive oil and prime grade Italian balsamic vinegar, dessert maybe fruit salad and ice cream. This is a typical summer lunch. More hot stuff in the winter. Our village restaurant opposite is stuffed with ouvriers everyday who have a four course lunch with wine and coffee for 12 euros. They also have there a good moules (lightly curries) with frites for 9.20 at present. Must say I have wine with every meal. Usually just wine box or maybe Lidl. Last evening just has some drinks and canapes with some French neighbours in the garden until about 10. When I was working in London at the end of my career I had a Tesco sandwich at my desk. In the 80s I went out to lunch getting clients every day. My father did much the same. Work is so much more serious now. Hours of eating are quite flexible. Locals are sitting down at midi- chez moi is always later, sometimes much later. Evening snack at 9.30 or maybe 10.

Every day. On the weekends or holidays, add the cheese! My mother-in-law always serves a salad before the meat and then after the meat veggies. As an American, in my house the meat and veggies and starch are all together. Soup or salad precede. And we always have bread but I insist on olive oil to go with it. In my Anglo house dessert was always served with the main meal.

The major difference I find between the American experience and French is not so much the number of courses (leave type and quality aside) but the duration and quality of time at the table. Dining with friends and family in France is so much more enjoyable.

I9 haven't got through all these but its a generational thing... older people still go for the three courses and always at a restaurant.... The big meal in France is lunch not dinner unless its a special occasion... Oh and its perfectly all right to use Chicken Stock with fish dishes in fact some chefs using chicken stock for all dishes...

interesting Rachael! The way you have written indicates you have a polygamous marriage. What so your other husband(s) eat? :-)

We eat a main meal with no starter or desert at midday and in the evening at 1730 I have a sandwich....I have colitis and so always eat main meal at midday because that way it is easier on me at night. Always have a sandwich in the evening because again it is easy on my stomach. Had loads of meals with French friends and except for Xmas day( yes we actually got invited to Xmas dinner with a large family) when we did have a started etc. Non of the others had a starter but just a main meal, followed by a pudding and then cheese and coffee.

One thing that we did note was that when one of our friends had a meal comprising different items such as pork chops, chips and veg, they never mixed the food on their plate like I have always done. They ate their pork chop, then they had some veg and then some chips...strange but perfectly OK with me. I just put all the different ingredients on my plate..tasted the same :-)

Rgds, Mike L

The French hubby tends to have 3 courses at lunch time and 3 courses in the evening (if not 4)! :) Pate for example, main course meat n veg, cheese, dessert... me: I just nibble on carrots ;-)

We do! every lunch time, and when we go out. Not complicated at home, but it can all be concocted in a half hour with a bit of experience!

Teeheehee, by the time Anto has peeled her apple I am usually finished a second one. Then my habit of having cheese with an apple and leaving a totally clean plate, well the stalk off an apple if there is one, seems to defeat everybody.

Haha Brian! Eric is horrified that I not only don't peel apples but eat the core as well (and I eat orange & tangerine & lemon peel & cheese rinds which obviously makes me a mad person). Still, waste not want not ;-)

I grew up with that idea (about frost) being applicable to celery. OTOH, as parsnips often occupy the ground for about 11 months out of the year, it wouldn't be easy (in most places) for them ever to avoid a certain amount of frost.

Oh yes, I treat endives like apples. People always wonder what the heck is happening. They think the madman eats the apple cores, the endive hearts and the rind on cheese (well not the wax ones). Call me demolition man.

NO BOOZE, cor blimey, no wonder my fellow anthros never seem to fancy going up the pole!