Discover the French food etiquette you better know when dining in France!
I think I have already mentioned it that the French do not eat to live but they live to eat. I mean that ‘eating and food’ play a very important role in French culture and mentality. The French pay attention not only to the quality of the food they eat but especially to the way the dining in France is happening. There are so many rules, different customs when it comes to eating in France that everyone from abroad is likely to make at least one Faux Pas when it comes to dining with the French people. And they are going to get strange looks from the French who don’t like when they customs are not respected. I have already made many gaffes, I have already learnt so much about all those french ways of eating. I have so many times been shocked and surprised by the French food rituals and in some cases I enjoyed a lot and in some situations I found it difficult to adopt. All in all, it is truly an amazing experience to dine in France so read my Faux Pas in dining in France and just enjoy eating in France!
My Top 15 Faux Pas in Dining in France you should avoid doing:
- Never forget the order of the French meal. It starts with the apero, followed by the entre = starter, main plat = main meal, cheese board and finally dessert.
- Never ever complain about how long your order is taking. Firstly, for good things you need to wait and secondly, once your order arrives, do not eat all at once. Part of the whole experience of dining in France is to enjoy yourselves and relaxing. It means that the meal will last very long….
- Avoid putting your bread on the plate. Usually, you leave the bread on the table next to the plate. Never slice your bread! You have the right to use your hands and tear your bread. But avoid putting butter on your bread! The bread has other use in France…..not officially polite but very common: cleaning the plate, nibbling during the meal and finishing off the meal with the cheese. Lastly, never put the bread upside down. This is considered as a bad luck.
- Avoid starting to cut the cheese first if you do not know the cheese etiquette in France! There are so many faux pas you can make with eating cheese in France that we could even create a separate list. For a start you can’t just have cheese whenever you want during a meal, it comes after the main meal and before the dessert. And secondly, you need to cut it the right way and in small pieces to go with the baguette. Don’t be greedy, there is a dessert coming next.
- Avoid eating with hands. You eat with the fork and knife even the fruit salad. Exception: frog legs. Here you are allowed to use your hands!
- Never start eating before you hear your host or hostess saying “bon appetit!”.
- Never eat your dinner before 7pm. In France, it is possible to eat at 7pm the earliest, most usually the French start eating at 8 or 9pm. The most difficult french custom I needed to adjust, coming from the Polish culture of early and small dinners.
- Never miss your lunch slot. Remember that restaurants in France will be opened and serve your lunch between 12 -2pm. If you are late, you ll not get the meal at the restaurant.
- Never eat your salad before the main course. Strange but true. The French eat their salad to finish the meal, not to start it! This varies by region somewhat but generally a salad is eaten after the main dish.
- Never touch the cheese with your fingers, there are special knives to cut the cheese and share with others. Do not embarrass yourself by removing the skin from cheeses like brie and camembert.
- Avoid asking for well done steaks. The French think that the flavour of the meat is said to be charred away when it is overcooked. However, the waiter will always ask you: Quelle cuisson, votre steak? And if you wish to discover French cuisine in all its authenticity, ask for accordingly: bleu for extraordinarily rare steak, saignant for rare steak and à point for a perfectly cooked or bien cuit for well done.
- Never run away from looking into the eyes of other people when saying “santé” and clinking glasses. Make eye contact as it literally means that you are wishing them good health and is polite.
- Avoid leaving food on your plate. This means you did not enjoy the quality of the food, or it suggests that the host does not know how to serve proper potions.
- Never serve the wine yourself first. When you want to get a glass of wine, always ask if others would like it as well. Serve them and than yourself.
- Never put your elbows on top of the table. Keep your hands on the table not below.
So here you are. Did I surprise you with anything new? Have you already known some or do you know any other Faux Pas in dining that you need to avoid in France? If so, please do share with me…hopefully I will be able to avoid some more faux pas in France in the future! And Thank you in advance!