How to Lunch, Parisian-Style

How to Lunch, Parisian-Style

The attitude in France about food is so different from the way we approach the subject in the U.S. that the biggest culture shock when traveling there for many Americans isn't the language or time zone, it's the eating.

I hesitate to say you have to go there to see, smell and taste it in order to understand it because I know not everyone can just hop on a plane and go for a meal in Paris. But those blessed enough to travel or live there know.

Since it's Lunch Week here at The Kitchn, and I happen to be nursing the kind of hangover-like fog that only comes from a weekend in Paris, what better time to talk about the charm of Parisian lunching.

Let's just dream a little together.

In France, lunch is often considered the main meal of the day so it's not overdoing it to have a big pot of Coq au Vin...

...or a nice sloppy plate of Leeks Vinaigrette.

Wine? Most definitely. One of Maxwell's favorite Parisian lunch habits is to drink wine and sketch out floor plans for fantasy rooms on the paper table covers. This doodle envisions a farmhouse kitchen with attached greenhouse. Thank you, Chateau Chantegrive.

A trip to the Marché Biologique (farmers market) can yield more than enough morsels for a park bench picnic. Here we're munching on baguette, two cheeses (Morbier and a crazy fresh goat's chèvre), the most perfectly ripe pear I've ever eaten, and a roasted chicken leg. And in France, no one busts you for drinking in public, so bring your corkscrew.

If you eat meat, don't be afraid to try a charcuterie plate with things you've never had. Here are some interpretations of pig we shared with David Lebovitz one afternoon. That swirly meat in the center is called Andouille, and I don't mean the Cajun stuff. It's made from stomach lining and intestines. Not your average American potato chip.

Best not to forget dessert. Walking around Paris with a cone of Berthillon ice cream is pretty sweet. Hands down, my favorite flavor is Agenaise, made with prunes and Armagnac. No ticket to Paris? Make your own. A roundup of recipes appears in my ode to prune and Armagnac ice cream. Also, my charcuterie-nibbling friend David Lebovitz has a show-stopper of a recipe in his soon-to-be-paperback The Perfect Scoop.

• Time to come back down to earth and check out our entire week of lunch coverage, from Cuban Sandwiches to How to Make Your Own Lunch Box Ice Packs.

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