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.