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Eating light at lunch in France


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Restaurants & Bars France Lunch

Eating light at lunch in France

ent3c | | Jul 12, 2014 05:45 AM

As I have gotten on in years a little I have found that my appetite is not what it used to be. And when I am in France, of course, I am eating many wonderful meals, both large and rich. I find that at lunch I often find myself wanting something light-- a small salad or sandwich-- but that it can be very difficult to actually obtain that in your typical café.

One often reads here that a good thing about French restaurants compared to the US is that they don't overdo it on the portion size, but I find that is not actually so true. Your typical salade composée on a cafe menu is enormous: eggs, ham, chevre, beans, potatoes. I recently ordered a sandwich and was served half of a baguette with ham and cheese, salad on the side. The good ones are wonderful of course, but that's not my point here. I can't eat it all, and I want to have an appetite at dinner!

I have tried many approaches. Attempts to partager get mystified stares from the waiter. Sometimes it works to just order an entrée, an oeuf mayonnaise or a soupe, but not always. Today I ordered an assiette du charcuterie as an entrée, and was served one that seemed suspiciously large for 7.5 euros. When the bill came I had been charged twice that for a main course, even though there was no assiette de charcuterie on the main course menu. My French is pretty good and I should have taken it up with the waiter-- a French person would have-- but I was tired and let it go.

Perhaps it is all just a consequence of being a tourist. Are all the French people who tuck into a nice confit de canard with sauteed potatoes and dessert for lunch just having a light dinner at home, rather than trying to work up an appetite for another big meal at 9:00? I don't often eat out twice on the same day at home, but if I do I can figure out how to have something small at lunchtime, or take half of it home. Or have I just forgotten what it is like to have a real appetite in your thirties?

Anyway, this isn't a complaint, there are worse problems than having too much good food to eat. I just mention it for what it's worth.