Let me explain the French Lunch the way I see it.
One day I was dining in the Bistro Valois just outside the Palais Royal. It was raining and a motorcycle pulled up underneath this lovely awning. The cycle was a nice one and the driver was dressed beautifully all the way down to his Berlutti shoes with the perfect patina. He reached into his small compartment and pulled out his lunch. While I couldn't see exactly everything he was eating, he took his time enjoying his sandwich and a small side dish of something he brought a fork for. I was intrigued. Then he brought out a small glass for a splash of wine poured from his flask. When the rain started coming down harder, he wasn't deterred from continuing his lunch... he simply moved his motorcycle closer to the building. Next came dessert, a tarte au citron (lemon tart)! Just unbelievable and he made it look so good I had to order one later.... I smiled and said to myself, "Let's just see now if he has his petit café." If so, I will be thoroughly impressed. He stood up after his dessert was finished and put all of his utensils, napkin, and glassware back in his compartment. Then, much to my delight, out came his small thermos and cup for his coffee! So impressive! Finished, he returned his thermos, dusted himself off and drove away. In that moment, I realized I had just witnessed the live definition of the French lunch!
What I find interesting for myself is that in California, I rarely have lunch out. Lunch is more just a moment to refuel to get through the day. But once I am in Paris, a whole different me appears. From the moment I awake, I start to dream about where I want to eat that day, which of my favorite foods I hope will be on the "plat du jour" menu (blanquette de veau, tomate farçi, pâte fraiche.....), and what I might want for dessert-- that list is endless! Even when I plan to shop in a neighborhood or visit a garden or museum, I think about which restaurants are close by for me to try. When I lunch, I enjoy every bite including dessert without any guilt...ever! And I always have wine... sometimes two glasses! Daytime drinking is a quiet kind of drinking.. the sun is out and dreams are encouraged. There is not an ounce of hurry in my body and I know that I will enjoy walking through the rest of my day.
For the French, a great lunch is anticipated and expected. For everyone else it is a moment of perfection!
Enjoy these photos of lunchtime moments! Bon Appétite!
Steak Frites-- Bistro Les Ambassades