French Table Manners Matter...

Old Feb 11th, 2013, 02:14 PM
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Look these forums are crazy, right now there is a thread on customs and behaviours in Paris and apparently some insist it IS customary to get butter with bread, I personally have never noticed it being so , but am assured I am likely incorrect. lol
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Old Feb 11th, 2013, 02:15 PM
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I am French born and raised (Paris region) of French parents and personally the only expression I have ever known is "chacun ses goûts". I have never heard anyone around me use any other form.
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Old Feb 11th, 2013, 02:47 PM
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easytraveler asked: "Do you take some butter (with the butter knife, of course) and put it on your bread plate...?"

What bread plate?
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Old Feb 11th, 2013, 07:11 PM
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Wherever you go, get the food from plate to mouth as effortlessly and neatly as possible. Keeping in mind that noodles, like cats, have minds of their own.
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Old Feb 11th, 2013, 08:28 PM
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is one supposed to eat a hamburger and fries with a knife and fork also ?
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Old Feb 11th, 2013, 08:32 PM
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One can if one wants to.
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Old Feb 11th, 2013, 08:41 PM
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harvmatic, I never order burgers in any sit down places in , France( they are not the same so why bother) but if you get one from a fast food place like McDonalds of course you would eat it with your hands,same as fries, , in a restaurant or cafe its up to you. Frankly if its just you and your travel companion at a cafe for lunch eat it however you please ..

I tend to pick up my fries but many do eat them with a fork, again take context into mind,, if you are served fries with your steak at a nice restaurant, then I would definately use a fork, but in a cafe or bistro as a side with my sandwich or mussels, then I would likely just use my hands. If your fries are soggy cause the juice from your meat spreads onto them, use your fork, just use common sense really. .
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Old Feb 11th, 2013, 11:46 PM
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You mean it is possible to eat a hamburger in a restaurant? Surely just some sort of expanded road shack.
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Old Feb 11th, 2013, 11:47 PM
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Still the tricky one for me is curried mussels in their shell. Mrs Bilbo had it (in a cream curry sauce) in some benighted French town and had green fingers for the rest of the holiday.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 01:21 AM
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I am an American who has lived in Germany for nearly 22 years. I still eat "American style" and have never had anyone comment on it.

Fries, however, are eaten with a fork here. I admit I have adopted that habit.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 02:49 AM
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Of course it is proper to use a knife and fork together when you eat - even out here in the former colonies (Australia)our proper English ancestors taught us right from wrong.

Although I must admit that other members of my family find it a little challenging when I bring out the silver fish knives for a particular meal.

Put a large piece of butter on the bread and butter plate, then butter individual small pieces of bread as you break / tear them off when about to eat them - and by all means use them to mop up sauce / gravy, but do not use it to polish your plate clean.

Eat pizza with knife and fork whenever sitting at a table.

Snails held with those ridiculous clamps, with the innards plucked with that silly little fork (OK - that was a one-time affectation!)

And use chopsticks to eat Chinese food!

But the emerging issue in Europe is surely how to eat horse, and whether it should be served as an entree, or always as the mane course ;-)
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 03:55 AM
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I lived with a French family as an au pair 30 years ago, and sometimes had dinner (or the mid-day Saturday meal) with them. At the time I was used to keeping my left hand in my lap and out of sight, after years of "get your elbow off the table!" What I heard instead, over and over, was "put your hands on the table!" (It was directed at the 12- and 9-year-old boys at the table, not at me, but each time I would duly park my wrist on the table.) I can still hear the exasperated voice in my head, and to this day, I keep my left hand above the table. It makes it easier to sit straight.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 10:06 AM
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<There is an argument going on among English speakers who know French with the claim by one side that à chacun son goût is an archaic expression. Is that true?

It doesn't immediately strike me as archaic, but I confess I don't recall hearing or reading it anywhere recently.>

exactley what my son said - not archaic and just not used and saounded awkward - sounds like an oxymoron but he agrees with the quote from another bona fide French person quoted above.

That St Cirq insists it is used in daily parlance well that is what she has experienced - but few bona fide French people would concur. And bona fide French people would also know that hypermarches do indeed make and sell good bread - an idea she ridiculed recently and was contradicted by several bona fide French folks.

Speaking French and being French often results in two different ideas.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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Okay. Being an Irish expat, now living in the States, I grew up using the knife and fork together, and still generally gravitate to that mode. I am your basic meat, potatoes and bread......any kind of bread, preferably with butter.....person, but am willing to explore the local cuisine to a certain extent. Escargot,pate, soft cheeses and frogs legs are out, but I will try just about anything else. I love stews, salads and fish and I love baguettes. I will explore eating a panini and a crepe or two from a sreet vendor, but I'm not big on a lot of sauces. What should I look for in a brasserie ? I'm thinking bouillaise, cassoulet ,Bouef Bourguignon, Coq au vin, ratatouille and perhaps Pot-au-feu (from the "Paris for Dummies" book), my daughter gave me for Xmas. Am I on the right track ?
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 12:07 PM
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STCirq: <i>If we're talking about France, it's not particularly customary to eat butter with bread.</i>

They don't have butter in France?

Padraig: <i>What bread plate?</i>

Oh, well, seeing that plates didn't arrive in Europe until Meissen found out how to make them in the 18th century, I can understand.

Do we place the butter on the table then?

bendigo: <i>But the emerging issue in Europe is surely how to eat horse, and whether it should be served as an entree, or always as the mane course</i>

Very, very good!

Are pedigree horses used for the more expensive hamburgers?
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 12:46 PM
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A more common expression is <i>"Les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas."</i>

Going back up the thread quite some distance, I would like to tell all of you that in my 35 years of working for a Middle Eastern company, I saw a big change in the Arab world -- there are very many left-handed people now and there is no dishonor at all in using one's left hand if you are not in a peasant village.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 01:35 PM
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Back in 1999-2000 we were blessed with neighbors from France. We had them over to dinner, and the first thing the father said after sampling the boeuf bourguignon was "Is there more bread? We're French!" When we visit them there is always lots of excellent fresh bread from the local bakery (or, sometimes, Auchan), and we do use the bread to mop up any errant sauce on the plate.

At one restaurant meal we were offered 3 different kinds of bread to complement the cheeses we chose.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 01:46 PM
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Last night I watched a programme where 30 Michelin star chefs dined together. Without exception they all used the bread to mop up the sauce. I think most chefs are delighted to see super clean plates come back to the kitchen, wouldn't they regard it as a compliment?
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 02:04 PM
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Of course. They have wonderful butter in France (think Norman cows). They just don't tend to spread it on bread, unless they're making tartines.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 03:06 PM
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Eating <i>boeuf bourguignon</i> without being able to wipe up the sauce with the bread would be total heresy in France.
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