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Heather in Rennes: Bon Appétit II

Dinner in France

In my previous post, I said I believed that French people put a lot of emphasis on the quality of their food, and perhaps it’s for this reason that they like to spend a long time enjoying it. Dinner with my host family can last up to a few hours, which I like. It’s better than shoveling down my food and then feeling the need to snack throughout the night. My host mom usually makes some type of meat or fish accompanied by a vegetable or starch, served with bread and salad. I told her I liked that we had salad each night and she asked if we didn’t eat it much in the United States. I said when I bought salad, it came in a bag and I usually had one salad before forgetting about it until it came time to find whatever it was that was stinking up my fridge.

After the main course, we usually have some cheese, sometimes served with wine. And to end the meal, we have a dessert. I found it interesting that my family eats dessert every night, but often, a dessert is something small like a piece of fruit or a yogurt. Sometimes it is a crepe with icecream or a piece of cake or tart. After dessert, we often drink coffee or tea, usually we’ll do this while watching TV.


Dinner Guests

On special occasions or weekends, my host family sometimes has an aperitif, or a an appetizer with a cocktail or glass of wine. This is especially common for dinner guests. Recently, I told a friend that my family was having dinner guests and she warned, “be prepared for dinner to last until midnight. My host family had dinner with a family friend last week and I could hardly keep my eyes open by the time it was time to leave.”

She was right, and the dinner party was one of the most overwhelming experiences I’ve faced thus far. There were only six of us at the table, but most of the time, three or four people were talking at once. I found my head on a constant swivel, trying to see which conversation I should try to follow. As the night wore on, the conversation became more political, as the French are not afraid to debate in a way that Americans very much are. The conversation went from the death penalty to corruption in the Olympics and beyond, but in the end, there were no hard feelings, and everyone left around midnight, full and happy.

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