Monday, February 21, 2011

The Pros and Cons of French Food

A patisserie in Annecy.
Pro: Starting the day off with French pastries and a cafe au lait.

Con: Breakfast is pretty limited in France if you plan to eat out. Most cafes will be closed, and those that are open serve basically only one breakfast: a croissant or baguette, accompanied by orange juice and your choice of hot drink. C'est tout. No eggs, no fruit, no pancakes, no delicious crispy bacon. I never knew I'd miss Denny's so badly.

Pro: French wine. It’s good, it’s ridiculously cheap, and it’s served everywhere, including ridiculous locations such as Dominos, movie theaters, and street vendor carts. The French equivalent of a 7-11 will often be stocked ¼ with food, ¼ hard alcohols, and half with a wide variety of wine. And you will want to purchase all of it.

Con: There no doggy bags, not only in France, but in all of Europe. In fact, the U.S. and maybe Canada are the only countries where doggy bags are uniform practice. Some more touristy restaurants in Paris have learned to cater to the tourists and now offer them, but usually, if you order an expensive steak, and only finish half, you do not get to take the rest back with you. If you ask, they will look at you like you are a crazy person. It makes my wallet cry.

A cafe in Paris famous for it's patrons such as Hemingway and Picasso, among others, from my trip in October.
Pro: You can stay in a café as long as you want, leisurely sipping your beverage of choice (wine or coffee being the most French), watching people go by and generally feeling really cool, like Baudelaire or some other old Parisian artist. There is no rush.

Con: The servers might think that you plan to stay for hours, even if you don’t, because it’s so commonly done. They might not check up on you in forever and you’ll feel like you’re getting awful service, when really you’re getting respectful French service.

Pro: Absolute freshness. Often, if you order orange juice, they go juice some oranges and add some sugar, and it will be the best orange juice of your life. Even at the so-called “bad” restaurants that are often at train stations, sandwiches will taste better than any upper scale sandwich joint in America because the bread, meat, and cheese is all fresher than what we’re used to. If you order whipped cream on your dessert, chances are its cream that they just whipped, five minutes ago, just for you. AND IT WILL BE AMAZING.

Con: If you go to Dominos because you’re feeling homesick and they have a special for only 8 Euros for whatever size pizza you want, and you order a large, they will assume that you have ordered pizza for your entire party. When you inform the cashier that your friends also want their own pizzas, yes, one pizza per person, she cannot believe it, and makes you repeat it three times to be sure she understands how fat you really are. The same thing may occur at a Chinese restaurant, where the judgmental and crotchety old Asian man informs you that you have ordered too much food, and that he refuses to bring your dumplings or charge you for them, because you will get too fat.

Perhaps depression stemming from poor self esteem may be one of the other reasons French people are so skinny?

Oddly enough, nothing captures poor self esteem better than an inanimate object.


  1. Love this post Melissa - I love French everything - especially patisseries!! I would love to go to "Les deux Magots" maybe next year.
    "All Things French"

  2. Spot on. Couldn't agree with everything you've written more.

  3. I miss doggy bags the most! They say the French think it's impolite to not finish your plate so I always end up stuffing my face and feeling disgusting--a doggy bag would be a much better option. I would finish my plate just in 2 places:)

  4. Most French people only drink a coffee for breakfast. Not your typical english breakfast...

    French online

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