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Manger à la bonne Franquette and a peep into simple french cuisine

If you have ever received an invitation from your French neighbours saying, "Venez manger à la Bonne Franquette," you might wonder what it means and what to expect. Is it going to be a formal dinner party or a more casual gathering? Well, let me tell you about the meaning of this phrase and its significance in French culture.

"Manger à la bonne franquette" essentially translates to "eating in a simple and informal manner." It signifies a relaxed and unpretentious way of sharing a meal. When you arrive, you'll likely find everything laid out on the table, such as slices of pizza, quiche, cooked meats, bread, and cheese, all served in a help-yourself style. There won't be any fancy serving dishes or elaborate presentations. The focus is on simplicity and enjoying good food without any pomp or ceremony.

This expression embodies the idea of gathering with friends or loved ones, where everyone can sit down, enjoy each other's company, and indulge in a satisfying meal. It's a delightful way to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, especially when nobody feels like spending hours in the kitchen. Instead, you can relax and enjoy the company of your guests while savoring delicious food.

Interestingly, "à la Bonne Franquette" is also the name of a renowned restaurant located in Montmartre, Paris. This restaurant holds historical significance as a meeting place for artists in the past, and it continues to thrive today. It has become a reference point for excellent meals that capture the essence of French cuisine.

French people have a remarkable talent for transforming something as simple as bread and cheese into a feast. Even when they are on the go, you might see them stopping at roadside stalls or picnicking by the river, where they lay out a tablecloth, uncork a bottle of red wine, and casually enjoy their meal. It's a testament to their ability to turn everyday moments into special experiences.

So, the next time you receive an invitation to "manger à la bonne franquette," embrace the simplicity and relaxed atmosphere it represents. Enjoy the pleasure of good food, good company, and the art of savoring life's simple joys.

I hold a profound admiration for the French and their remarkable ability to transform simple food into an extraordinary experience. When I reflect on the French and their culinary culture, it evokes a cherished memory from my visit to a car boot sale in France. It was a delightful morning around 10:30 when my leisurely stroll led me to a vibrant car boot sale where in the middle of the stalls was approximately 15 individuals gathered around a long table. The table was adorned with wine and a delightful assortment of unpretentious yet delicious food, whilst everyone talked and laughed in a way that only the french can do. The scene epitomized the French joy of sharing a meal in an informal setting, the simplicity of everyone seated together, sharing laughter and engaging in animated conversations.

What truly fascinates me about the French is their unmatched ability to infuse ordinary occasions with an extraordinary touch. It is an intrinsic aspect of their culture that sets them apart from any other nation. Food occupies a central role in their daily lives, extending far beyond mere sustenance. Witnessing their engaging discussions on topics like cheese, wine, or even the finest local bread throughout an entire meal is truly captivating. These conversations delve deep, with participants dissecting and analyzing the subject matter from various perspectives. It is a testament to their unwavering passion and profound appreciation for gastronomy.

While food in other cultures may sometimes carry a more ceremonial or rushed quality, the French have mastered the art of seamlessly integrating it into their daily routines. It extends beyond mere consumption—it is a celebration of flavors, an engagement of the senses, and an avenue for fostering connections and jubilation.

So, whether it's a car boot sale, a picnic by the river, or a gathering with friends, the French have an unparalleled talent for turning these moments into something extraordinary. They understand the profound impact that food and shared meals can have on our lives. It's a beautiful reminder to slow down, immerse ourselves in the present moment, and appreciate the simple pleasures that come with enjoying a good meal and engaging in meaningful conversations.

I truly love the company of French people, and it's difficult to explain why—it's that indescribable "je ne sais quoi." I often envision those picturesque moments depicted in pictures or films, where the French gather in the gardens of an old house. Everyone is seated on a long, grand bench, with a bountiful table of food before them. The air is filled with conversation, laughter, and the joy of savoring simple yet delicious food in the presence of fantastic individuals. This scene encapsulates the French perspective on food—it doesn't always require elaborate ceremonies. Contrary to popular belief, the French don't consume rich foods like cream-filled croissants or pain au chocolat on a daily basis. These treats are reserved for special occasions or Sundays, while cakes are seldom eaten and crisps are saved for parties and picnics. Breakfast often consists of a piece of baguette, or fruit, and yogurt along with a bowl ( yes a bowl!) of Black cofee, tea without milk or a chocolat chaud.

The French possess a remarkable talent for turning any occasion into something special. Food becomes the centerpiece that brings people together. Although I have spent most of my life in a French family, with my children's father being French, I recall frequent visits to my in-laws, particularly for Sunday meals. Everyone would contribute to the food preparation, from cutting vegetables and preparing green beans to setting the table. It was a true ritual, a collective effort. I vividly remember visiting my children's Pépé, their French great-grandfather, who had Italian heritage. Even at 96 years old, he would have a fresh lemon and garlic every single day, squeezing their juices onto his salad, accompanied by a glass of red wine.

Again, it was about simple yet incredibly flavourful food. While the patisseries showcase exquisite cakes, the French don't indulge in them on a daily basis. These treats are reserved for special occasions or when guests are expected. I have a distinct memory of my first invitation to a proper French meal, around the age of 11 or 12. My uncle, who lived in Toulouse, arranged for us to visit a family he knew in the South, near Sete. He warned us to pace ourselves, as there would be seven courses. And indeed, there were! We couldn't believe it. The meal began with an aperitif and a platter of raw vegetables, followed by a main course, salad, cheese, and a succession of desserts. It seemed endless—a true seven-course French feast served on a vast balcony overlooking the countryside. That moment has stayed with me forever, as it captured the essence of French cuisine.

The English approach food as a necessity for survival, simply eating because we have to, often having a quick snack or grabbing a few things together for lunch. In contrast, the French have a "live to eat" mentality, turning meals into special moments where everyone comes together in the evenings and on weekends. Therefore, if you're moving to France or integrating into French culture, it's crucial to respect their unique relationship with food. Did you know that French cuisine is recognized by UNESCO as part of their heritage? It deserves t respect. I haven't met a French person who believes that any other country's cuisine is superior to their own, and we all know why!

When you're invited to a meal by the French, take a moment to be fully present and observe. Pay attention to the conversations revolving around food and notice how different it is from the English way of eating and being. It's like entering two completely different worlds, and once you truly immerse yourself in it, you'll understand that elusive "je ne sais quoi." You'll surprise your friends and neighbours when you confidently use expressions like "à la bonne franquette," and what better way to enjoy a meal than to put everything on the table and let everyone help themselves?

Bon Appétit!

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