French Table Manners Matter...

Old Feb 15th, 2013, 06:47 AM
  #121  
 
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"But this is at home, isn't it? I don't think I have ever seen anyone drinking coffee from a bol in public."

Le Pain Quotidien serves breakfast coffee in bowls.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 07:22 AM
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Having lived in Paris, I don't see any issue with the fork/knife question. I've also only really experienced the mopping up with bread outside of Paris--some French people prefer a sauce spoon. The one aspect of table manners that I have noticed is that, in France, it can be considered rude to keep your hands under the table during a meal. Most French people I've encountered prefer to keep the forearms on the table. Or, as one French person put it, "We always wonder what the Americans are doing with their hands under the table."
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 08:26 AM
  #123  
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But this is at home, isn't it? I don't think I have ever seen anyone drinking coffee from a bol in public>

Yes that is my experience as well and always with the coffee, served at the end of our meals mi-mere would also always have some kind of packaged cookies -usually mass brand square cookies, which were at times way past the use by date.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 08:56 AM
  #124  
 
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I have never seen coffee bowls in a restaurant or café, but I would not deny that they must certainly exist in a few places -- if only to be "original." It's a shame because I would love a café au lait to be served in a bowl. It would be a bit silly for an espresso, however.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 08:59 AM
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Only place I can think of is a youth hostel in Dijon--in 1972!
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 09:01 AM
  #126  
 
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I drink my cafe au lait from a bowl when home but have ordered in France a few times and and was served in a bowl and usually at the B&Bs I've been given my au lait in a bowl.
The old bowls are very expensive. At one time I collected them but when my finances took a downhill, I sold them.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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But the new bowls are very cheap -- Monoprix is full of them for about 2 euros and any <i>bazaar</i> store in Paris sells them for 1 euro.

Yes, I can imagine that a <i>gite rural</i> would use bowls at breakfast.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 09:23 AM
  #128  
 
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Forearms on the table, but <i>never</i> elbows.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 01:04 PM
  #129  
 
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Oh, hooey! Everybody I know in Paris puts their arms, elbows and hands anywhere they want. What really counts is what their feet and thighs are doing under the table.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 03:11 PM
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I haven't followed this whole thread, but I just wanted to share a photograph of...

BUTTER

http://ldnatm.blogspot.com/2013/02/butter.html

I snapped this photo during my lunch at Les Ambassadeurs at the Crillon Hotel in 2008.

Knowing this is Fodor's, I'm sure that the thread will now be replete with theories that

(1) they brought me butter because I was foreign
(2) they brought butter because it had two Michelin stars (not sure what the current rating is)
(3) I asked for the butter but conveniently forgot

And who knows what else.

For the record, I rarely use butter, and that's why I notice it, especially when it's presented beautifully. Some restaurants even give you different kinds of butter.

Butter is not some strange American custom, I dare say.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 03:16 PM
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Another theory

(4) I photoshopped the photograph with butter from an American restaurant.

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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 04:31 PM
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It's not that butter isn't some strange American custom. It's perfectly normal for many countries in Europe to serve butter with bread. Just not so much France, at breakfast, IME. I would imagine the Crillon serves so many people from all over the world, they serve butter because many of their international clients expect it.

At a "normal" resto in the Dordogne or Provence or Normandie or otherwise "out in the provinces," it would be unusual to be served butter for lunch or dinner, though you would always get bread.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 04:39 PM
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Ok, when butter came up initially, that question had nothing to do with breakfast. So let's get this straight.

I knew some version of the various reasons I'd offered would come up, and you've conflated #1 and #2. While we're at it, I also forgot to add a preemptive #5 -- I took the photo at an American restaurant but forgot and thought it was Les Ambassadeurs.

Seriously, what goes on in this forum is just a bit much. But I'll grant you that your response is not as ridiculous as, say, "I've never seen anyone served butter with the bread at a restaurant so it wouldn't even be an option unless you asked."
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 05:17 PM
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Blooming heck! What you all do at home is your business! However, good table manners are part of fine dining etiquette and make eating out for those round about you a pleasant experience.
So here's the European normal table manners etiquette:
cutlery in the right hands,
hands above the table but no elbows,
eating with one's mouth closed and no talking while eating (a pet hate),
breaking bread into pieces to mop up sauces at meals other than breakfast,
serve oldest woman first,
try eat everything you are served, unless the portion is too large, and never say you don't like food unl
children must engage with adults and behave well at table or parents should remove them from the table (my father would take my son for a walk in between courses and I always had drawing materials, plastic animals and small books to keep him entertained but still engaged)
No electronic games or telephones during mealtimes.
No eating before grace is said and until the person serving (at home) has sat down to eat.
I think that's the lot!
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 07:12 PM
  #135  
 
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<<No eating before grace is said...>>

Are you freaking kidding? Grace? I've been to Europe probably 150 times, owned a house there for 20 years, have countless European friends and acquaintances in whose houses I've had meals, hosted innumerable meals at my own home there, and never once been exposed to a "saying grace moment." What about European Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and so forth, for whom grace isn't even really a concept?

Sorry, but what a conceptually narrow-minded idea. Really mind-boggling. Can't we all just agree to have our morning café crème in a bowl?
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 09:32 PM
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Smodaig must know only real <i>dévots</i> in France.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 10:11 PM
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Well, finally a moment of grace in this thread! ;-)
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 10:22 PM
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How do plastic toys, coloring books etc keep child more engaged with other people, then a small muted hand held electronic game,( unless you mean an adult has to interact with child playing with said items and there fore not able to be free to chat to other adults) , in fact its a bit hard on staff at restaurant to serve food if your child has all his toys and coloring stuff set up .. I think you are just old and prejudiced against something more modern. I personally do not think a child over 10 needs anything to "keep them busy" except at a very long ( more then two hours) meal. I also don't think it would be appropriate or fair to expect a 6-10 yr old to sit for more then 2 hours, really even more then 1.5 hours. I find it hard to believe any child 5 or under would be expected to sit at a long formal meal and are best being fed in bistros and cafes where meal times are under an hour. Many thats my old fashioned part.

I find at some dinner parties the conversations after folks have a bit of wine are not appropriate for children to hear, especially very young children . I have witnessed adults laughing over risque officeneighborhood gossip( whos cheating on their wife, and which receptionist wears low cut tops etc) with young kids at table. I don't think people mean to , but I just think after 2 glasses of wine many peoples "filters" come off and its not always cool for kids to be included.
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Old Feb 16th, 2013, 03:26 AM
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I am 100% French and really:
- grace is not said in France except maybe in the most conservative families (less than 1% of the population)
- butter is never served with bread before a meal at regular restaurants (except Michelin starred restaurants but I have never eaten at one so I can only base this assumption on other people's testimonials). Butter is served with certain dishes (assiette de charcuterie, seafood platters, etc) and only as part of these dishes (and of course butter is a major component of French breakfasts).
- while table manners differ from country to country, their strict observance has more to do with social class than nationality. It seems to me that some posters on this thread must be dining only with nobility, diplomats or more generally speaking with the upper crust, who, let's not forget, represent a minority of the population.
Véronique
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Old Feb 16th, 2013, 03:41 AM
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I was talking about the difference between eating at home (where things are more relaxed) and eating in company/out. Maybe it's a class thing? Or a UK thing? But my experience of eating in the UK and in Europe is as described. I'd never considered it before, and wouldn't dream of allowing my child to eat sloppily and be inconsiderate to other diners - they have paid to eat too.
If you are away with kids, it is a family holiday and the kids have as much right to be there, but they need entertained/exercised between courses if they are slow in coming, and of course you need adults to interact - I was thinking of under 6s. Kids really shouldn't go to dinner parties, but long family lunches allow families to chat and bond, especially if you have a hectic schedule of after-school activities during term-time. Electronc gadgets are fine for long journeys, but make kids disengage and they might as well be in their room, so only if the child is to be seen and not heard in adult company. I agree that 10+ should be able to enjoy adult company, but the adults need to be mindful of who is there.
As far as adults who have imbibed a bit much, you choose your company! Saying that my uncle is an alcoholic and is outrageous in adult company, but I never remember him being risqué when we were kids - it probably just went over our heads! But we only saw him once a year!
Longer meals are the norm in France, Spain and Italy and families and friends of all ages enjoy them - indeed many families enjoy extended meals on Saturday evenings and Sunday lunches in the UK. My child, nephews and nieces all enjoy sitting together with the adults and chat animatedly and eat what's put in front of them and enjoy the time together and they are aged 4-13.
With many families eating ready meals/TV dinners, and take away foods in front of the box - away from the dining table, or separately at different times and mum preparing different meals for faddy children, it's not surprising that some kids & adults don't know to behave at table.
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