Aero: Ayla Sandifur – France 2015 – Food and Dining
Aero: Ayla Sandifur – France 2015 – Food and Dining
My food and dining experience was definitely not what I had expected. In America, you eat anything you practically want. Sometimes people wake up and eat what they had for dinner last night. In France, you sit down and eat food that is meant for in the morning. I remember at my host family, all there was available for in the morning was bread, toast, cereal, variety of spreads for the bread and some yogurt. Lunch was always more than breakfast and dinner was always more filling than lunch and breakfast. I am not a person that is willing to try many foods, especially food from another culture, but I set some boundaries for myself and tried a lot of new foods. We spent a lot of time at cafes and restaurants while we were staying in Paris. While we were on the go, we would stop at different little markets and cafes to get something small to eat. Most restaurants didn’t even open until around lunch time or close to dinner time.
The cafes were mostly like a coffee shop where you sit down and order something small like a muffin or a pastry to go along with a coffee. In France, chocolate is much stronger and darker, so an expresso or hot chocolate is a lot stronger than in America. The selection is also more limited compared to a café here in America or at a restaurant in France. The waiters and waitresses are very polite and quick to serve you. The servers immediately bring water to the table, for free and refills are free as well. They were very understanding with my lack of French speaking skills. At one café, I ordered just a croissant and juice and the flavor was out of this world. The orange juice is always freshly squeezed and the pulp isn’t too much. The food that I order was prepared and served quickly but the quality was still amazing. Most the cafes we went to, we were free to relax and enjoy whatever we were having. The environment was very peaceful and relaxing, no one rushed us out so they could use the table and the waiters and waitresses didn’t bother us unless we needed something. We never had to leave a tip as well. Since the servers make a salary, they feel insulted if you leave a tip. If anyone leaves a tip, they would use it to buy a drink when their shift is over though.
In America, almost all the cafes are loud and noisy, can take a while to order and you usually stand in line unless you can sit down before ordering. Selection for foods and drinks are still limited but can vary based on where you go. In NY, most places charge as much for their drinks as they do their foods. If you go to a place where you are waited on to order and be served, the waitress or waiter comes by at least every 5 minutes you are there asking if everything is okay or if you need anything else. Also, the food can take a long time to be prepared or severed and someone rarely apologizes to you for the inconvenience. If the place starts to get busier, you can see the servers get frustrated that the tables haven’t opened up. The servers often try to get you out the door quicker by bringing the check when they can see you’re almost done eating. In America, servers do not make a salary that they could live off of or care for their families with. Minimum wage for a server or a busser is fiver dollars an hour and then tips. But the problem with tips is, some places force the servers to “share” their tips. This means at the end of the service for the night, all the servers get a portion of the tips made that night. Other cafes will tax the tips or take them out of their pays for that period.
When we would go out to eat a restaurant, you could see the difference between the selection of foods and drinks, the atmosphere and the setting you were in. Most businesses in France didn’t open for dinner service until five or six at night, but even then most people eat dinner at eight or nine o’clock or even later. I noticed a lot of bars would just start serving around eight thirty or nine at night and serve past midnight. The restaurants we would eat at made me feel very fancy. Even if the prices weren’t expensive, the owners and servers wanted the business wanted it to be perceived as it is. A lot of restaurant’s served fish and escargots in various dishes and styles. Seafood was a very popular type of food in Paris. It was very difficult for me to order something that was not seafood, or something that I wasn’t comfortable eating. I also could barely read the menus so I was nervous ordering food. For the first time ever, I had a Crepe at this restaurant that Kelsey and I went to, and the food was glorious! The Crepe had bananas, apples and caramel drizzled on top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Whenever I went to a restaurant, it never took very long at all to order or be served as well. Service was very quick but the quality was great as well. I liked the deserts that the restaurants offer as well. They would never come up to us and interrupt us while we were eating. They waited until we would set our eating utensils on the plate or push the plate away before coming by and taking our plates and silverware.
In America, the restaurants are very loud and can often have children screaming and crying. The food can very expensive or reasonably price but the service can be awful. When you sit down and the server hands you your menus to order drinks, it can up to ten minutes before they come back with your drinks and then order your food. Sometimes the servers have an attitude or they seem miserable. Servers will also take your plates without asking if you have finished or come by your table constantly asking if you have finished your plate. Servers in America do not just take your orders for foods and drinks, they will come by and bother you while you eating your meal numerous times so you can’t just enjoy your food. I knew there was differences between eating out in France and eating out in America, but I didn’t think they would be that different from each other. Things like not tipping and having to ask for the check took some time for me to get used to. I would love to see America implement parts of Frances culture in aspects of food and dining.