Probably not. The French gastronomic meal, part of the intangible heritage list of the UNESCO since November 2010, is high in quality as it is in quantity. Besides, you probably will need a whole afternoon to go through this banquet, which may very well last a few hours! What exactly keeps the French around the table for so long?
It all begins with the aperitif and it is no coincidence that the word is French. One glass, possibly two, of alcohol before you get together around the table. It is not unusual for the aperitif to be served with finger-food, appetizers or munchies to help you wait for lunch.
Once sitting at the table, the hors d’oeuvre will be brought. There is a broad selection, including soups, salads, cold meats, seafood… Ideally a cold dish will precede the warm one. However, it should not be of the same type – you cannot decently serve a cold soup with a consommé afterwards.
It is now time for the first main dish, typically fish with vegetables or rice. It can be served with sauce and white wine is expected, as it is always when eating fish or seafood.
Every host is aware that there is only so much one can eat, which is why you will be offered a “trou normand”, a small glass of calvados liquor, sometimes poured over apple sherbet. This is to help you “make space” for what is to come next. Moreover, the taste of alcohol eliminates the taste of fish from your taste buds, so that it will not interfere with the next dish.
Do not underestimate the “pièce de resistance”, which bears its name well – piece of resistance. The second main dish is usually red meat, again sometimes with sauce, and appreciated with Bordeaux wine. In order to ensure its “resistance”, it comes with vegetables and even potatoes.
Last but not least…
If you thought it was coming to an end, think again. You are still in the middle of it. It is now time for the French pride, made of over 400 varieties, the “plateau de fromages”. As most cheeses are fairly strong, they are served with salad, as well as red wine.
Now for the sweet part. It is usually some patisserie, a gateau or a pie, with some fruits afterwards – they are considered to be light(!). Then comes a hot drink, espresso most of the time, but you might be offered tea. It is also served with some sort of chocolate – in case you were slightly underfed. Final step to our feast – the digestif, a spirit or a liquor to help you digest, hence its name. It will be without any doubt quite welcome.
Our French banquet includes wines, water and breads all along.
Have you been counting? No less than 11 steps to our culinary marathon. If the timing is right, it will be exactly time for dinner at the end of it.