The French repertoire of foods ranges from songbirds to snails. It is said that the French eat anything that moves. Cole Porter, the song writer, remarked that Americans keep horses as pets, the British ride them, but the French eat them.
French cuisine has something for everyone, peasant, bourgeoisie, and aristocrat. The peasant perfected the pot-au-feu, the pot-on-the-fire, for a very practical reason. He could simmer a pot full of bouillon, cheap cuts of beef and whatever vegetables were available on a slow fire for hours while he and his wife worked in the field. Now it is served in fine restaurants and called by a food writer, French poetry in a pot. A good red wine as accompaniment no doubt is mandatory to achieve the poetry.
Do not ask for ketchup in a French restaurant. The French take great pains in making their sauces. Coffee is drunk only after the meal, with dessert. During the meal, it is wine or mineral water. Ice water with the meal is only for heathens.
French restaurants run the gamut from hole-in-the-wall to gastronomic shrine; from small places called Bistros with checkered tablecloths and paper placemats, to cafes and bars; from libre-service (self-service) cafeteria style to the attentive service including a maitre d’hotel, captain, chef de rang and commis found in three-star, very expensive restaurants with worldwide reputations.
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