Today, we are going to talk about a topic everyone loves: FOOD…well, eating. In America, food is a big deal. We love our fast food, we love our restaurants, we love our desserts, we love food, and we love eating. Especially as college students, the first suggestion that comes up when deciding what to do is to eat. Back home, this is typically how a meal out goes:

  1. Choose a restaurant – this usually takes a while because there are so may options: Mexican, Asian, American, etc.
  2. Go to the restaurant
  3. Tell the host/hostess the number of the party – depending on the number and time of day, waits can be from zero minutes to an hour, maybe even two **people WILL wait
  4. Get seated and get a menu
  5. Order drinks (and maybe starters/appetizers)
  6. *a few minutes pass* Receive drinks and order meals
  7. *about 15 minutes* Receive food, eat *30 minutes to one hour*
  8. Pay your bill
  9. Leave.

A full meal from start to finish, in America, takes about an hour, maybe two if it’s a special occasion. But usually around an hour, give or take 15 minutes. Also, during that time, the waiter or waitress with probably, most likely, definitely will, check on you and your meal what seems to be and probably is every five minutes.

Here’s how a typical meal out goes in France…Paris to be exact:

  1. Choose a restaurant – this seems to be a pretty quick process, more restaurants offer a similar menu
  2. Go to the restaurant
  3. Tell the host/waiter the number of the party – it seems like the parties here are much smaller (between one and four); typical wait time is between zero minutes to 15 minutes *I noticed that if the wait is longer than 10 minutes, people will leave and choose a difference place*
  4. Get seated and get a menu
  5. Order drinks – people like to drink wine of beet no matter the time; it is also cheaper to order wine as opposed to a soda
  6. Order food
  7. *about 20 minutes* Receive food and eat *45 minutes to one hour thirty minutes*
  8. Order a coffee and/or pastry
  9. *five to 10 minutes* Receive coffee/dessert and eat
  11. Pay your bill and leave

A full meal from start to finish, in Paris, takes at least two hours. From what I have been seeing, Parisians like to take their time and eat. They value their food. Also, meal time is quality time with the person or people you are eating with, even with yourself if that’s the case. After the meal, locals will sit for even longer to talk about who knows what over a coffee, espresso if you will, and a pastry. On a side note, something I’ve noticed is that there are no hostesses or waitresses.

While Americans do value the taste of their food and quality time with the person or people they are with, eating is more important. Americans eat to eat whereas Parisians eat to have quality time. I do not think there is one right and one wrong way to eat because there are many different wats. Food and eating has a different meaning in every culture, but that’s a topic for another time. To simply put it, trying to fit in with the Parisians and spending time eating as they do was a nice change of pace and experience.

Quick side note – drinking. Drinking here in Paris is such a different concept than it is in America. Americans drink to get drunk, wasted, blackout, whatever your heart desires. Parisians drink to be calm and just have a quick taste. It is very causal and you rarely see people obnoxiously drunk.



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