Tourbus Tuesdays - Slow Food

In my few years living in France, I have never once heard a waiter ask me: "are you still working on that?".  In fact, I am pretty sure the French would scoff at that phrase.  Food is seen as a pleasure and should never be work.  One of the most notable differences between the American and French culture is the experience of eating out.   I have come to really like the French restaurant/cafe experience.   Waiters are not there to entertain you, to earn a tip (they are paid a living wage, tip is included in the price of the meal) or to be friendly.   They are happy to advise you on food or wine choices, and then they leave you alone, assuming that you are there to relax and not have some stranger jalapeño business.   When you get a table at a restaurant in the States, it is assumed that the restaurant wants you to finish your meal and go - so that someone else can have your table.  In France, when you sit down at a table, no one is going to push you to leave, or even bother you until you are ready.  So what Americans may see as negligent service, the French see as being allowed to enjoy your meal in peace, since you came to the restaurant to relax anyway.
My advice to anyone coming to France would be to enter a restaurant with this in mind.  Slow down, food is an experience not a chore here.  Enjoy your food and the company you came with, and give yourself the time and space to observe while reserving judgement.  Knowing the custom of subtle communication with an emphasis on personal space and privacy might just help you navigate  visit to France.

-Cafe Felixio - where my friend and I often meet to  take turns practicing our English and French.


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