Wednesday, 21 June 2017

"I've noticed that people who know how to eat are never idiots." (Apollinaire)

"I've noticed that people who know how to eat are never idiots" (Apollinaire)

Guillaume Apollinaire (not his original name) was born in Italy to a Polish mother. In his short life, which ended nearly one hundred years ago, he seems to have done and said pretty much whatever he wanted to. Still, today, the interesting people around me have this capacity. In this noisy 'me', 'me', 'me' world, they are the oft-silent ones who can be confrontational without confronting, whose ideas make me think, whose words are not drowned out by the inane, trivial conversations around us. Sure, they are sometimes arrogant so-and-sos who can upset by their unflinching honesty; in my case, only saved by their genius and my gratitude at being taken out of my daily humdrum. I probably would have enjoyed a tête-à-tête with Guillaume, but, the truth of it is that I don't know how to eat.

Table etiquette: which fork/spoon/knife to use, elbows off the table, no slurping or burping and how to place one's cutlery at the end of a meal - I've got spades of that. I come from good English stock. The mechanics of eating; clearly, that is not a problem either. But (and here's the rub), I am never the one to salivate prematurely over the duck stuffed in the turkey stuffed in the chicken (or however the turducken is prepared although I concede that my method appears unlikely). I am never the one to order my steak 'saignant' (let alone tartare), I skip lunch often and snack on Weet-Bix or handfuls of muesli and, dinner for my children and I, when my intelligent husband is away, is often not pretty.

That said, I'd like to think that I am not an idiot either. My defence might look something like this:-

If A equals 'people who know how to eat' and B represents 'not an idiot'


A=B  ⟺A⊆B and B⊆A

But, if

A⊆B and B⊈A then A≠B

Ah, we are not talking equality at all. Good, I can still legitimately keep company with my other half.

Actually, I digress. This post was to have been about baking bread but I got side-tracked by stumbling upon the aforementioned quote in Cooking for Claudine by John Baxter, a gift from Lulu (thanks, Lulu, and I hope to hear soon that your French trip was a great success).

I'll aim to get back to my exemplary bread knowledge in my next post. In the meantime, there is a chapter in 'But you are in France, Madame' entitled 'Mon péché mignon' and it is all about bread. If you would like to read more, here is the link.

A la prochaine...

And once again, joining in with the AllAboutFrance link-up, sharing posts with a French theme. Bonne lecture...


  1. I read your book and just adored it! I highly recommend it to anyone who loves reading about the expat experience of living in France.

    1. Thank-you so much Gwyneth! It is always such a thrill to hear that someone has enjoyed our story. Bonne journée.

  2. It's funny that you mention that quote because I noticed a lot of French people I know seem to associate bad taste for food with being a person who doesn't know how to live properly.

    As I was raised in France but my roots are in Canada, I don't know where I stand. I must say that after living in Holland and Brazil for a couple of years where tasty food is by no means priority number 1 for most people, it made me realize that I like eating flavorful food.

    And I don't think people who don't know how to eat in a proper way are idiots, they just have different priorities in life ;)

    1. Hi Abigail, I don't know where I stand either! Born in Australia to an English mother, my culinary experiences growing up were not varied. Since then, being amongst a French community, then living in France, married to European stock, I see food differently now. But, as you say, there is no one correct way to live. Where a different knowledge of food is in evidence, I wouldn't use the word 'idiot' either !

  3. The longer I live abroad, the more I realize that people are always going to do things differently than you are -- eating included -- and that's more than OK. Everyone has their reasons. P.S. I don't eat my meat rare or anything close to it either! #allaboutfrance

    1. Hi Diane, it is ok, of course! Glad to have you amongst my non-rare-please blogging friends!