12.08.2009

Breakfast- Comme les Français


The ritual of breakfast (or le petit déjeuner) in France is a very important one. Growing up in California, breakfast was certainly important, but never held much of a ritualistic value. I would usually scarf down a bowl of Cheerios or a piece of toast and call it a morning. Things, I would discover, were very different in Paris.

Monsieur Chic got up very early every morning to go to work (long before I would get up). He would rise for breakfast at 5:45am and be out the door by 6:30am. Madame Chic would rise before him and have his breakfast prepared by the time he got up(remember Famille Chic was very traditional- in fact I probably could have called them Famille Traditionnelle!) And as you can probably already imagine, breakfast chez Famille Chic was more than a piece of toast and a cup of coffee.

I discovered this on my first morning in the house. After getting ready for the day I walked timidly back to the kitchen (breakfast was the only meal served in the kitchen- the rest were strictly dining room only). There I heard the soft hum of the radio and the gentle clanking of dishes. Madame Chic made a comment about how I must like to faire la grasse matinée (sleep in). I remember looking at my watch and it being only 7:30am (and thinking, 'she doesn't know from sleeping in!')

Instead of saying that, however, I smiled politely as Madame Chic ushered me to the tiny kitchen table, which was adorned with a plethora of delicate little food items. She asked if I preferred tea or coffee (tea in the morning, merci) and she proceeded to pour my steaming cup of Ceylon tea into a breakfast bowl. Oui, you read that correctly- a breakfast bowl.

Yes, I thought perhaps I had gone mad or that the jet lag was getting to me or maybe Madame Chic ran out of teacups but the following day I noticed it again. In the morning, tea was drunk chez Famille Chic out of breakfast bowls. And it wasn’t just Famille Chic, I learned that most French people drink their morning beverage out of bowls. I found this quirky little ritual charming and decided to just go with it. After all, when in Paris...

Along with the tea (served ceremoniously in a bowl) a typical breakfast would include:

-a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice

-fromage blanc (a delightful fresh 'cheese' with similar consistency to yogurt that can be eaten with a sprinkling of sugar)

-a slice from last night's fruit tart (usually apple, cherry or strawberry- homemade by Madame Chic)

-toasted baguette with butter and jam (the jam was always homemade- strawberry, raspberry and orange marmalade were her favorites)

-a selection of cold meats (this was rare- but welcome from me as I like to have a little protein in the morning…)

I grew to adore those little breakfasts- they were a welcome departure from the dry cereal or heavy bacon and eggs I was used to. I was grateful to partake of those little delicacies every morning (I still miss my fromage blanc!) and enjoy my bowl of tea, the quiet hum of the radio and those lovely little moments shared with Madame Chic.

**Madame Chic served her tea out of a marvelous yellow tea pot. I found an almost identical one in England last year (pictured above) and had to have it for nostalgia purposes.

25 comments:

Michael Rivers said...

I would love a good breakfast every day. I am not a morning person so I barely (rarely) make it to work on time. So I always eat at my desk. Fruit, yogurt, bagel, etc. etc. Going out for breakfast on weekends is such a fun treat!

Post-Modern Jen said...

I love this post, and now you've got me excited about breakfast tomorrow! One of my favorite breakfasts was one served at a hotel we stayed at in Germany in my teens. They served coffee, hot chocolate, various breads and pastries with butter and jam, assorted cold cuts, and best of all, soft boiled eggs in cute little egg cups. I still try to recreate this whenever I can, it is such a great memory.
Also, wondering if fresh "farmer's cheese" is a good sub for the fromage blanc? I think I'll try it.

LPC said...

I worked as a camp counselor in France. Dordogne. 1975. We drank cafe au lait every morning, in bowls, along with bread, and butter that redefined the substance for me. Ah. Memories like that make me almost not mind getting older. Thanks for bringing it back. The smell...

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Lovely post. I do love toast in the morning.

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

I adore that cheery yellow teapot and I love this post! I am trying to remember the beakfasts we had in Paris. I do know even the simplest food tastes better in Paris. xx

Fiona said...

Such a lovely post and inspires me to try some of these things for my own breakfast. Merci Jennifer!

Oshiya said...

cereal was my breakfast, too. now i love real food that doesn't come from box... i def. prefer fresh fruits and plain yogurt.

Paris Pastry said...

J'adore French petit dejeuners! I think they have the REAL breakfast of champions! Great post!

Nadia said...

That sounds so yummy!

tishjett@yahoo.com said...

Eh, oui. Isn't it marvelous.

My Chere, I have a tiny request for a Christmas post I'm trying to pull together and would like you to participate. Want to keep it "off-the-record" until it is "unwrapped" for that reason would you be so kind as to e-mail me so I can explain? tishjett@yahoo.com

Merci par avance.

Tishx

Rebecca said...

I love the yellow teapot! I guess French people don't need much sleep. Wasn't dinner served late?

When I was going to school in New York, I would frequent a cafe that served warm milk in a bowl (as well as lattes, teas, etc...). I always thought it was so chic and European to drink it that way.

Thank you for another wonderful post!

eurochic said...

I love this post. I always love hearing and reading about what and how the french eat.

La Belette Rouge said...

A French breakfast is one of my favorite things. Yet here at home I am not a breakfast person. Coffee is my breakfast of choice.

The Coastal Chicster said...

*sigh* this makes me wish i were more of a morning person. it would be so nice to relax for 20 minutes at the table and eat breakfast before work - rather than eating some toast or a bagel in the kitchen in my office. maybe i should make a sincere effort to get up early enough to eat breakfast at home for a week!

JennyMac said...

I am both a morning person and a breakfast person...the breakfasts I had all over Europe were amazing. This one you describe is perfect. I could have the same one here but for some reason, its not quite as good.

BonjourRomance said...

How I enjoyed this post - it is true and so great! Nothing like a big bowl of tea and bread and....no problem eating it all, just have not figured out how to keep it off the hips! Oh well!
Hope this week has been going well for you and your family this week!

silk purse said...

My.., "sigh" .., As I sit here in the solitude and quietude of a wintry and windy evening with my kitty, Peaches, by the fire.~ I felt as if I was magically transported to a distant land; to France for those lovely "oh so French", early morning breakfast rituals ~ Thankyou!..,

Do feel most welcome to pop by to my little corner of the blogging world for a little respite of tea or "Chocolat chaud"..,

silk purse said...

Oops, I forgot to direct you to The Plumed Pen blog.., I do hope you can link on by!..,

Cheers from silken Purse@ the plumed Pen

Rose said...

I love the teapot! I am never sure about the meat for breakfast business but tea from bowls sounds wonderful. And those cheese/ milk things are fantastic- the more sour the better I find

I have given you an award over at my blog

Alan Burnett said...

What, no croissants? Sure croissants are one of the greatest gifts of the French to the rest of the world (along with the complete works of Zola) so why were they shunned in the Chic household? Or are they like English muffins (which you never see in England)

Crystal said...

This sounds lovely (and is making me hungry!). I don't think enough people take the time to enjoy a good breakfast. Like you I used to just have a quick bowl of cereal and coffee, but now I try to make more of a production out of it. It's a great way to start your day, right?!

Thanks for your comment on my last post. I'm curious -- what is your novel about?? :)

BigLittleWolf said...

Many wonderful memories of breakfast en famille in France. And my first fromage blanc in Normandy as a teen. Sooooooo good.

Lovely post.

Tom Bailey said...

Only when I stay at bed and breakfasts with a special woman do I eat like this in the AM it is usually a blender breakfast. Your story reminds me of eatting at a bed and breakfast. Thanks for sharing.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Thank you everyone for your great input- I love hearing little details about people's lives and what you eat for breakfast is no exception!

For those of you who left questions-

Alan- I suppose the reason Famille Chic didn't have croissants was because everything was always homemade (with the exception of baguettes) and croissants are terribly difficult to make. I would have loved to have them though!

Crystal- My novel is a murder mystery... a traditional whodunit with a modern twist! xo

Hannah Miet said...

I miss French breakfast...achingly...

 
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