A French family will start the day with
petit dejeuner, or breakfast, which is regarded mainly as a snack.
It will consist of milky coffee, drunk from large cups or bowls,
sometimes with a spoon, and bread - bought that day if the family lives
close to a bakery - spread with butter and jam and balanced on a saucer.
Most families do not have croissants for breakfast except at weekends or
holiday times. Nowadays, as more women go out to work, English-type pan
loaves, which can be kept for several days, are often bought to make
into toast for breakfast.
The main meal (diner) is eaten in the
middle of the day, either at home or in a restaurant or canteen. Like
the rest of the Western world, the French have become very aware of
cholesterol and the danger of over-eating. So the main meal comprises an
hors-d'oeuvre or soup, a meat dish with perhaps a separate course of
either vegetables or green salad and, finally, either a dessert or fruit
or cheese. The evening meal (souper) will be lighter: soup or an
hors-d'oeuvre, a fish, cheese or egg dish, then fruit or cheese or a
If entertaining visitors, there may be a
plat unique, a dish such as cous-cous or paella that is
complete in itself, or the meal may be more traditional, with four or
five courses. Nowadays, many families claim to seldom drink wine except
when entertaining, on which occasions they would expect to serve one
labeled 'VQDS' (vin delimnite de qualite superieure) or 'appellation