The French are serious about eating. Nowhere is this more evident than at lunchtime, when the entire nation sits down for a proper meal (the biggest and most important meal of the day). Over 95% of French people do this. Stores and medical offices close. No one answers the phone. The mid-day meal is sacred.
Even children at school get a long lunch break: between one and a half to two hours. A minimum of 30 minutes during that time period is spent sitting at the table, eating the freshly prepared, three- or four-course meals, that kids get every day. The rest of the time is spent playing (and digesting all of that good food).
Why so long? Lunch is supposed to represent up to half of daily caloric intake, so eat big meals at midday rather than in the evening. Plus, the French believe that eating slowly is an essential part of eating properly.
Meanwhile, back in Vancouver, my older daughter gets all of…10 minutes for lunch, precisely scheduled by the school from noon to 12:10. Needless to say, she doesn’t eat much. But at least she eats. Studies show that up to half of North Americans don’t eat lunch at all. Instead, they snack, with all of the negative effects on health, mood, IQ and weight that you might imagine.
How much time do you take for lunch?