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.