A-Z of eti­quette

In part eight of our in­sider’s guide to life in France, Mark Say­ers ex­plains what the French un­der­stand by ‘veg­e­tar­ian’ and dis­sects the na­tion’s beau­ti­ful lan­guage

French Property News - - Contents -

The penul­ti­mate in­stall­ment of our guide to life in France

Al­though France and the UK are sep­a­rated by a mere 35km stretch of water, mov­ing to France some­times in­volves more of a cul­ture shock than many new­bies ex­pect. In this A-Z se­ries we take a light-hearted look at the quirky side of life in France in a guide that will be handy for any­one con­tem­plat­ing the move, as well as those keen to blend in with the lo­cals!

Vis for Veg­e­tar­ian When we first ar­rived in France nearly 15 years ago, say­ing you were a veg­e­tar­ian was akin to say­ing that you were from the planet Mars. Ad­mit­ting that you were happy to go through life never sam­pling the delights of a suc­cu­lent pink Limousin steak, melt-in-the-mouth foie gras or the salty sweet­ness of an oys­ter was met with as­ton­ish­ment or dis­dain, some­times both.

In the case of a friend of ours who came to visit, de­nial was the de­fault set­ting. We care­fully ex­plained that she did not eat meat at all and were de­lighted that the waiter was happy to pass the in­for­ma­tion on to the chef who would come up with a suit­able of­fer­ing. An ap­petis­ing stack of smoky grilled veg­eta­bles was duly pro­duced and our friend tucked in hap­pily – only to find some pork skulk­ing in their midst. We called the waiter over to point out that there was meat in the dish to which he non­cha­lantly replied: “Yes, but not much!”

From dis­cus­sions with other French veg­gies it seems this is not an iso­lated in­ci­dent. For many French chefs ba­con, ham and fish are all widely con­sid­ered to be suit­able veg­e­tar­ian fod­der. Some even see noth­ing wrong with re­mov­ing the meat from a stew and re­nam­ing it ‘vegetable’ stew! Now I am a con­firmed meat eater (al­though try­ing to cut down), but even I know that that’s not the point!

Un­til now, the choice for our veg­e­tar­ian brethren has been lim­ited to eggs, eggs and more eggs in their var­i­ous forms, or one or more veg­eta­bles dumped un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously onto a plate, some­times raw. But fi­nally it seems that the times they are a-chang­ing. The web­site Happy Cow ( hap­py­cow.net) now lists 2,486 veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan-friendly restau­rants in France.

Even Per­pig­nan, hardly at the van­guard of the res­tau­rant (or in­deed any!) scene in France, now has a choice of veg­e­tar­ian restau­rants as well as one that is en­tirely ve­gan. Non-meat eaters are get­ting a bet­ter choice than they did but it is still not dif­fi­cult to find a French per­son for whom the term veg­e­tar­ian sim­ply does not com­pute.

15 years ago, say­ing you were a veg­e­tar­ian was akin to say­ing that you were from the planet Mars

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.