You may have noticed there are some things we do differently, compared to other restaurants. For example, we don't give you side plates? There is always a basket of bread whether you ordered it or not? And we don't roll our eyes in disgust if you dunk your croissant in coffee or wipe up your sauce with a slice of baguette.
These are very French habits. Having been married into French culture for so many years now I have almost forgotten the uncomfortable feeling of watching Stephane dunk his croissant for the first time in front of my British Dad.
This made me think more deeply about our habits, our differences, the quirky mannerisms and ways of being that make this world the fascinating place it is.
I love the fact that the French will always greet you, whether you are a stranger, friend, customer, family member, with a "bonjour", a handshake or with "la bise" . La bise can be just two pecks on the cheek, one on either side, up to five times depending on the region of France you are from. And this is not purely a female habit; male friends and family members will also "fait la bise".
In fact, human contact around the table, bonding over good food and wine with genuine human interaction, is an ingrained habit. This is why sitting down for proper lunch remains a vital French way of life. Sandwich eating on the hoof is for emergencies; or when travelling, in transit, a forced break-up of the daily routine. Take a look around you the next time in France and note that restaurant terraces and tables will be full at lunchtime, not with tourists and ladies-that-lunch, but with office, factory, shop workers, taking their lunch-break eating lunch!
In France it is also commonplace to see children eating ‘adult’ food. No special menus or dinosaur-shaped dishes in sight. This is why French Living's children's menu is simply a reduced sized version of the adult dishes, educating your children's palette, helping them appreciate a good meal at an early age. You may feel this is being a gastronomic snob, but we feel this is an essential French habit to develop healthy eating and be exposed to a variety of flavours from a young age.
A few more unusual habits include drinking from bowls rather than cups ( particularly hot chocolate and dunking - yes the French really love dunking - particularly a baguette tartine coated in jam)
At French Living we serve our Brittany cider in a bowl.
Also, did you know the French drink whisky and port as an aperitif rather than as a digestive?
They also like mixing sweet syrups - particularly Grenadine - with water as a refreshing non-alcoholic option on a hot day.
And the French will always say "Bon Appetit" to anyone about to eat, whether they are eating with them or not.