Having spent a lot of time with various French friends and family over the past few weekends, I have noticed that their table manners are all quite similar and very different to mine!
Maybe its my British upbringing and what goes on in France is totally normal but it just seems so strange to me.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but it would appear that the French don’t apply what I consider as hygiene common sense to some produce. For example bread. Go into any French supermarket or bakery and you will see bread being sold without any plastic covering or paper protection. Environmentally friendly yes, but not hygienic IMHO.
Its as if there is some belief that the bread is immune to any germs or other dirt it may carry. Maybe it has some type of invisible protection like the new Cif cream spray I’ve just seen advertised on TV? You only have to look at how many baguettes people handle in the supermarket before settling for one… Think of all those germs that transfer onto the crust… ukk!
Then, once bought, you often see people holding their baguette under their arm (not in rhe summer I hope as you may get the onion effect…) or put it on the seat in their car (you know, the one where the dog sits!). Sometimes you’ll even see them at the pharmacy or Doctors.
I’m not a maniac but I am sensitive to basic hygiene, and what has really made me smile is some of the people who I have watched carry out the above won’t eat the skin on boiled new potatoes for fear of germs (not even chemicals, germs!). So it doesn’t really make sense does it?
Now, on to breakfast. Most of the French I have observed do not use a plate for breakfast. This really annoys me as it means crumbs get absolutely everywhere including on the floor!
We were 5 for breakfast the other day so I laid out 5 plates as well as all the traditional stuff; butter, pain au chocolat, bread, jam etc. My friend looked at me with curiosity and asked what the plates were for. Hubby who happens to share my point of view (at least when I am with him), told her that she’ll see. I think she was expecting us to drink our coffee off of them or something really bizarre, as when we put our food on them she seemed surprised! Basic hygiene obviously doesn’t apply at the breakfast table either…
After eating breakfast all five of us on plates our friends were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t need to Hoover around the table afterwards. The plates were then slipped in the dishwasher and we were able to start the day. Possibly three converts?