French people and food : 5 myths debunked – French culture – FLE

You think that French people spend a lot of time cooking every day, that we are all talented chefs, that our children know the difference between a turnip, an eggplant, and a zucchini and that we never break the rules of good table manners? You got it all wrong and you need to know the truth.

1.Normal French people are chefs : WRONG

First of all, if you think that you know nothing about French cooking but assume French people know better, let me tell you that most of the time the places where we come across nice food are:

  • in cook books, just like you
  • in restaurants,  just like you
  • on Instagram, perhaps cooked by you

And even those who write famous cook books about French cuisine are not actually French or barely :

By the way, many cook books about French cuisine are amazingly unrealistic and depict old fashioned dishes that reflect a lot of clichés that non-French people like to create and perpetuate about the country. But they keep the French ART DE VIVRE alive, and that’s something we are really grateful for because we are too busy trying to make suchis or burgers.

2. French children eat healthy foods and know all the vegetables and fruits: WRONG

Wrong. « Les petits français » are normal children : they like sweets, they prefer sugary foods and most of the time they have a taste for fast food.

The truth is, French parents are aware of health issues linked to food and try to explain the rules of healthy food habits to their children and  to discipline them, as generally family dinner in the evening is important in France and children aren’t generally allowed to eat alone watching TV.

However, numerous studies have shown that many French children don’t identify vegetables like beetroot, artichoke, zucchini or leak ( read here in French Les enfants ne savent pas reconnaître les légumes ). 

Plus, a number of French children have no idea what nuggets are made of and don’t see the link between potatoes and French fries.

So you are not French and we understand this can be sad, but you are not a bad mum or dad, ok ? We’re all in the same boat.

Pie Wink GIF by US National Archives - Find & Share on GIPHY

3. In general, French people have healthy eating habits : RETHINK THIS

Yes and no. Just look at how many MacDonald’s, Pizza Hut or Quick restaurants you can easily find in France and how crowded they are.

Also, don’t forget that French people like to stay fit and a large number of men and women are continuously on a diet. So for many French people, eating healthy food isn’t exactly a choice, it’s a NEED.

We like junk food just like anyone else on this planet. But we also like to look nice in our bikinis.

Dragons Den Health GIF by CBC - Find & Share on GIPHY

4. French people eat foie gras and drink good wine every day : WRONG

Marilyn Monroe Drinking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

People tend to idealize French cuisine and the French way of life.

But we, French people, are actually busy and we don’t always have time to spend hours cooking or lots of money to spend on food. Of course, we indulge in good and expensive cheese, wonderful  organic wine, amazing foie gras, or a tasty tournedos rossini from time to time, but it’s not the « normal » everyday French diet.

About alcohol, French people tend to drink a lot (many people drink a glass or two every day) but not necessarily expensive drinks : we enjoy drinking tequilas, mojitos (yes, we like exotic tastes) beer or even cheap wine ( « le vin de table » for example).

Don’t think that French people are all oenophiles. Alcohol is mostly a way to socialize, and also to get drunk ( because we like to talk about politics and it’s better when we’re drunk ).

The drinks French people prefer (source : Institut BVA)

5. Table etiquette is important : NOT REALLY

At least, the French etiquette the way it’s described in French language and civilization books is something that a lot of French people know little about. 

Young people especially don’t care about silverware, how you sit or if you put your smartphone on the table.

Actually, when you are not invited in a formal context, just stay casual. Being polite will be enough and bringing flowers for the hostess and wine for the husband will be just fine. Don’t overthink it.

Dinner Party GIF by The Hills - Find & Share on GIPHY

To conclude, French cuisine has a lot of incredible aspects, but many of them are stereotypes of non-French people who love the country, its people, its history. Remember me next time you’re invited to un apéro dînatoire by your young colleagues or your neighbours and they serve you une planchette de charcuterie  ( a deli meat platter ) and a lot of wine, then you wait and nothing happens … On your way home, you’re starving  (and drunk) and you grab a Kebab.

We, French people, are not perfect, we’re just like anybody else. 

Obviously, we have a je-ne-sais-quoi that makes us very likeable but for normal French people ( I mean except Bernard Loiseau, Marc Veyrat or Alain Ducasse ) that’s not our cooking skills, believe me.

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