Learn to Match the Pace of French in Food Habits

Article excerpt

Byline: Jane Lasky Business Travel Report

In my family, Mom insisted I break each leaf into a bite-sized shape using only my freshly washed fingers to do so. I do not know why my mother insisted on this particular procedure, but I'm sure it wasn't to torture me. Surprisingly, the tedious process had a positive effect later in life, serving me well whenever I sit down to a meal in France.

There, the rule for salad eating is to take care never to cut the lettuce with a knife. Instead, you maneuver every large leaf by taking the knife and fork and tenderly folding the edges into a square. Then, you stick your fork into the morsel and neatly pop it into your mouth.

I try not to salivate as I attempt this dining feat, which is difficult because it takes me such a long time. MyFrench colleagues amaze me as they are so adept at this folding process that many are able to do it without looking.

This and other dining secrets make for good etiquette when breaking bread with the French:

- To get off to the right start, begin each meal with a heartfelt bon appetit. Say the words with a lot of enthusiasm to illustrate how much you look forward to that particular dining experience.

- Don't be surprised if your itinerary shows you are scheduled to experience three power meals in one day. …