How to Eat Bread in France Without Looking Like a Heathen

August 5, 2022

(Yup, There’s a Rule—DO NOT BREAK)

Picture an Outback Steakhouse. (Oh god, maybe don’t.)

Okay, fine. Picture an upscale steakhouse. In the bougie section of town. You know the bread board you’ll inevitably get? With the piping hot loaf and some fancy infused rosemary – thyme – placenta of an ancient animal butter? And then the giant serrated knife, which you will inevitably use to cut yourself the largest fathomable hunk without anybody noticing???

Well, don’t do this in France. Don’t you dare even think about cutting it. Or biting into it. Or spreading butter all over it. You won’t get butter on the side, anyhow, and then you’ll have to ask for it like a real American tart. (Which is problematic in its own right, because the word for butter in French, “beurre,” is TRAGICALLY EMBARRASSING to pronounce.)

Turns out, there is breadiquette in France:

  1. The polite way to eat bread at a table or restaurant is to rip it with your fingers. There’s even an old French idiom that translates to “you don’t cut bread, you break bread (idiot).” The idiot is implied in the tone.
  2. You don’t spread butter on it like a excitable monster, even though the butter in France is de-licious and you’ll really want to.
  3. The bread is actually supposed to sit on the tablecloth: it doesn’t go on a plate, believe it or not.
  4. And, finally: don’t eat the bread before your order arrives. It isn’t an appetizer. It’s supposed to accompany your entrée. 🤣 WHO KNEW?

Reports from those who have dared to enter French homes state that the French often use their bread as a “plate mop”: for soaking up the sauces, vinaigrettes, and tears of their enemies. But, it’s considered bad manners in public….so maybe shy away from bulldozing that baguette straight down your gullet.

Or just buy the baguette and bring it to a beach and hide under a really big towel tent and THEN DO ALL THE BAD THINGS.

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