Saturday, May 15, 2010



Eating here in France is necessary to survive, but it is also an adventure. The downside, if there is one, is that we eat too much.


At our B&B's an ample breakfast is served with an over abundant amount of bread, which is usually fresh and many times hot out of the oven. It tastes so good, you tend to overeat. Then comes coffee, juice, jams, honey, different types of cereal, fruit, yogurt, cheese and at times some kind of cold cuts. Now if your disciplined you eat a little of one thing or another, but we haven't been disciplined yet. You just gotta try everything. So after a long and slow breakfast, we push back from the table and head out for the day.


We usually eat lunch around 1:30 in the afternoon. This is partly because most restaurants in France close around 2 pm and don't open again until dinner time, which here is around 7 pm. But the main reason we eat lunch when we do is because we're too full from breakfast to eat any sooner. On most days we try to make lunch our main meal of the day. So with our French menu decoder in hand we start looking at menus for something we can understand. All French restaurants post their "carte" outside along with the "plat du jour" or the dish of the day. The daily offering is usually the best option for the price. Normally comes with a starter, like a salad or soup, a main dish, and desert or cheese plate. Drinks are usually extra. Food here is expensive, but the wine is cheap. A 1/4 liter of wine, about two glasses, goes for 3 to 4 dollars. Soft drinks are expensive, around $5, so in an effort to watch the budget, we drink wine.

Making a selection from the carte is the fun part. Sometimes you just don't know what you're getting, like the anchovies Cathie got in a salad once. We look around to see what others are eating and sometimes just point and order what looks good. With the exception of the anchovies, we really haven't had a bad experience and most times the food is excellent and delicious.

Meals here last a long time. No one is in a hurry to get you to pay the bill and move on. If you get a table for a meal, it is yours the rest of the meal time and usually no one will present you with a bill until you ask for it. You go slow and enjoy both the food and the company. We had a five course dinner the other night and the meal lasted 2-1/2 hours.


If we do go out to dinner, we just have a snack for lunch, like a cheese plate with some wine. Our normal routine is to buy items from the grocery store and have a picnic in our room. Some B&B's have a small kitchen for our use, and we might have a bowl of instant soup and of course, wine. If we do got out to dinner it's normally another large slow meal.

Ok, you ask, so what have we been eating, beside drink the wine. Here are some examples:

Besides making new friends, Cathie likes here salads, cut out of the picture here. Most salads here are huge if ordered by themselves. They come with almost anything in them, from the usual to potatoes, bacon, ham, the dreaded anchovy, walnuts and cheese. One that is really good comes with goat cheese melted on small pieces of toast. In most tourist areas, salads like these go from $10 to $16. Get off the beaten track, and the food gets cheaper.

This is a typical carte board showing the special of the day. This one was off the beaten track, so not too expensive. The plate of the day is beef for 8 euors or about $10. For the menu of the day, you get the salad, the plate and dessert for 11 euros, or about $13, a pretty good deal.

Cheese plate with wine and beer from a local bar. Usually enough to hold you over between breakfast and dinner. We stopped one day at a local bar/truck stop for a light lunch. Cathie had soup and beer, I had wine and we split a huge cheese plate. We couldn't eat all the cheese. Anyway, it was 11 euros, the going price where the locals eat.

A word about cheese. I guess you can see we're eating a lot of it, something we never do at home. That's because the cheese here actually tastes good and there is a lot of variety.

Dinners our a usually something special, a feast and expensive. Here's what Cathie ordered in Provence. It's duck breast with potatoes and an olive relish. Besides the main plate came as salad, cheese plate and dessert, not to mention the ever present wine.

I had the rabbit, yes the rabbit, stuffed with olives. The selection on the carte translated to English as, Larded Back Rabbit, which meant it was wrapped in bacon. Really good!


On another occasion this was my appatizer, a foie gras pate, a speciality in the Dordogne reigon of France. If you haven't tried it, don't knock it.

For the main course, Quail!

Now with all that, we better warm up the treadmill when we get home.

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