On a recent trip to France, I was reminded and rejuvenated about our mission for TheBrown Lounge.com. Our goal is to connect people with food socially, both online and around the dinner table. The French have built a global brand and reputation around their relationship to food. Children learn at an early age to eat with a fork and knife, and to enjoy a multi-course meal.  They eat primarily fresh and local ingredients, and they eat together. In France, food is truly social. It’s a source of both sustenance and entertainment. A meal brings friends and family together daily. While we typically think of idyllic French cuisine, bistros, boulangeries and patisseries, the French typically cook at home, with simple, fresh ingredients.

As a nation, we face staggering statistics about the increase in single serving meals, the number of people eating at their desks and in their cars, the incidence of school aged children in the U.S. who have less than 9 minutes to eat their lunch at school (compared to the two hours allocated to French school aged children), and the growing impact of fast food and prepared meals on obesity, diabetes, stroke and other health conditions.  So, we suggest slowing down, eating well, taking time to plan, shop, cook and share meals with your family and friends.  When you do, you’ll be happier, healthier and closer to the people around you.  As the saying goes, “Good cooks never lack friends!”

Here are the 7 things I (re)learned about food from the French!

  1. Slow down – Make the time to create a relaxing environment. Focus on the meal when you’re eating and set aside a reasonable amount of time in your day to enjoy your meal, ideally with a friend so that conversation is part of the experience.
  2. Variety is the spice of life – The French Supermarche has more variety of fresh meat, fish, cheese, fruit, etc. than any gourmet or super store I’ve ever seen in the states. Outdoor markets with organic and locally made products are in every town and major city.  Try new things and experiment with ingredients.
  3. More is less – the French meal is usually 3-4 courses, but each is reasonable in terms of size and volume.  They are nearly always designed to be enjoyed and to be well digested.
  4. Take time for wine – At lunch and dinner, wine is part of the meal, and also a good “digestive.” Low alcohol content wines are wonderful for food pairing and allow you to go back to work in the afternoon.
  5. Eat “ensemble – Statistically people in the U.S. are increasingly eating alone.  Eating together is simply better.
  6. Manners matter – Set the table, use a fork and knife.  Avoid the “spork” if at all possible!
  7. Cooking c’est l’amour – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again……cooking is love!

Try our Coquille St. Jacques recipe (or watch the video). Our version of this dish (on the left below) was inspired by the wonderful dinner we had with our family in Leon, France, which was prepared by my brother in law at his country home in Leon! His was the photo on the right below…so delicious.