Friday Five : French or American ?

I am linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What, and Mar at Mar on the Run for this week’s Friday Five, which is a food related theme.

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I recently had a question from Wendy, asking if I cook more French dishes or American dishes. I admit, I hadn’t ever really thought about it. What do I consider American ? What do I consider French ? Even if I have spent half my life in each country, my adult life has been in France, so my culinary influence is definitely rooted here.

So here are some culinary differences that I would consider to be different between the 2 countries, knowing I have not lived in the States for over 20 years, so my view might be flawed.

Veggies at every meal, fruit often. Protein +  a veggie is my typical meal, often with a bit of rice, pasta or potato, for both lunch and dinner. I didn’t know so many different vegetables existed before moving here. Fruit is a big part of the meal, but at the end as a dessert. I sometimes have my fruit with my meal but French people often look at me like I am odd.

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Protein. The French are big on meat and fish, and we have a protein with almost every meal.

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My husband would have a meltdown if we didn’t have meat or fish at each meal.

Sandwiches are the exception. I know many people bring a sandwich for lunch in the US, but in France, a sandwich is for a picnic or if you are rushed …but since most people take 30 to 45 minutes for lunch, you have the time to eat a meal. Whenever I suggest to my husband that we have a sandwich on the weekend, he freaks out. “A sandwich is not a meal”. My last sandwich was when I was in Italy over a month ago :

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Casseroles don’t exist. I don’t know why, but I don’t even think there is a French word for casserole.

Big breakfasts do not exist either. However, this is the one meal where there is definitely American influence. I often eat protein pancakes, muffins or eggs. While muffins are more common, you can only find pancakes in an American restaurant.
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Sauces ! Many of the dishes have sauces, especially in a restaurant, and this is something I never do at home. Sauces are just not my thing.

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What do you consider typically American ? typically French ?

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Comments: 35

  1. lacey@fairytalesandfitness June 10, 2016 at 2:43 pm Reply

    I love a good sauce on anything. Makes it so much more flavorful. I can’t believe casseroles do not exist there. They are my go to dinner. So easy to throw together and bake in oven. Easy clean up too!
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm Reply

      I don’t think French people really liked all their food mixed together.

  2. Deborah @ Confessions of a mother June 10, 2016 at 2:59 pm Reply

    Interesting ! Sauces are not my thing either but do live a good sandwich. Fun!
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm Reply

      I don’t eat much bread, so a sandwich is OK but only once in a while.

  3. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets June 10, 2016 at 4:03 pm Reply

    Really interesting to think about food from France vs. the U.S.! That sandwich looks so good, I’d want to eat like that all the time, lol! Id’ also be sad for the lack of pancakes, haha!
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 10, 2016 at 6:59 pm Reply

      That is why I make my pancakes… impossible to find them except in international hotels.

  4. Kaleigh June 10, 2016 at 4:09 pm Reply

    This is so interesting! I had no idea about sandwiches, but when I think about it, some aren’t really that filling so it’s definitely a good quick and easy go to if you don’t have time to really sit down and eat.

    • Karen - Fit in France June 10, 2016 at 6:58 pm Reply

      Sandwiches are big around Europe… but not in France. It might be because the customs around bread are someone different.

  5. Jenn @ Run With Sole June 10, 2016 at 7:08 pm Reply

    When I was in France many many moons ago as a kid, I remember there not being much in the way of breakfast. Coffee and some pastries and that was it. Mmm…French coffee and croissants sound so good right now 🙂 This was a really interesting post!!
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:46 am Reply

      Yes, coffee and pastries (or bread) is pretty much everyone’s breakfast. My kids eat cereal, but that is the American influence.

  6. Karen June 10, 2016 at 7:23 pm Reply

    I am not sure I could survive without my big breakfasts, although, I typical have them at lunch or dinner time. I love eggs, cheese, hash browns…mmmm
    I love casseroles too lol
    I thin of American and I think how big our portions are.
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:45 am Reply

      Yes, unfortunately big portion size is definitely American. I always think that if people cut their portions by one third, their weight would also drop by one third !

  7. Rachel June 10, 2016 at 8:07 pm Reply

    I’ve never been to France and I don’t know much about French-specific food. I know Italian, Jewish, American, and Mediterranean. Maybe some French but not much. It all looks awesome, though!

    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:44 am Reply

      There is so much choice here and everything is so tasty & fresh. We are lucky.

  8. Tricia @ MissSippipiddlin June 10, 2016 at 8:10 pm Reply

    No casseroles? Wow a casserole is the staple in any southern woman’s kitchen for an easy go to meal to feed the family! Also pancakes too??
    I do love seeing all the differences though!
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:43 am Reply

      I cook a lot but don’t know how to make a casserole. I did buy a slow cooker 6 months ago and have only used it twice. 🙁

  9. Darlene June 10, 2016 at 8:20 pm Reply

    Way before I was a runner, I used to cook a lot and French meals were my fave.But they are time-consuming.

    Usually my dinner now involves meal or fish and veggies.
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:42 am Reply

      I would be interested to know what you like ! We can talk about it in a couple weeks 🙂

  10. Stacey June 10, 2016 at 8:47 pm Reply

    I love learning about how other cultures eat-so interesting, thank you for sharing! PS All of your food looks amazing 🙂
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:42 am Reply

      My meals are pretty basic but filled with goodness.

  11. Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy June 10, 2016 at 10:31 pm Reply

    Meat & potatoes and large portions . . . so very typically American (and I don’t eat that way). We eat a lot of fish, usually meat only once a week, and I eat vegetarian a lot so I’m often making 2 dinners. Although sometimes I make my husband eat a vegetarian dinner, too.

    Fruit is generally a dessert for me, too, and only with the meal typically if it’s a salad, although it depends on what type of salad.

    I do love sandwiches, but rarely eat them — again, I just don’t do well with a lot of bread. I might do a sandwich if it’s a run day. Sometimes.

    Sauces are definitely something that comes to mind when you think French cooking!
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:41 am Reply

      I make several dishes within a meal, usually the protein is different, or I add rice or pasta for my husband & kids. I am sure my vegetable addiction will rub off on my kids. There are things they love… broccoli, carots, green beans, tomatoes, mushrooms. They will eat it, but like to have a starch too. My husband always tells me he had his veggie at lunch, so wants pasta or rice for dinner.

      • Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy June 11, 2016 at 11:23 am Reply

        While I do eat potatoes & rice, often not at dinner. Usually earlier in the day when I’m more active. Before a long run I will, though.

        But my husband insists he needs it & he isn’t at all active. And barely eats veggies & fruit typically only when I give it to him! I keep trying to convince he’d feel better if he didn’t eat so many carbs.

        I’ve always loved veggies, though, even as a child.
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  12. Christine @ Two Runners Travel June 10, 2016 at 10:35 pm Reply

    What a great post! I have often wondered about the subtle differences in life in the two countries. My husband would not be pleased without a protein at dinner although I am slowly working on plant proteins instead. Small wins! I would love to improve my sauce repertoire. I have nailed a few Asian sauces but many of the traditional French ones seem more complicated to me.
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:38 am Reply

      Most sauces here are cream based, and I don’t digest it well. My husband is a pro at sauces, but I usually don’t eat them.

  13. Marcia June 11, 2016 at 12:42 am Reply

    My husband does very well in France because he loves meat and fish and wouldn’t go near a casserole. When I travel in Europe I am acutely aware of how over-sized the portions tend to be here in the states.
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:37 am Reply

      OMG, WAY oversized in the US. So much waste because it is too much food for our bodies, and so much must be thrown out.

  14. Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home June 11, 2016 at 2:32 am Reply

    I’m glad to know I inspired a post with my question! I ask this question of my patients all the time, since I have so many patients that are from all over the world. I thought casserole was a French word! LOL! But I was curious about the cuisine. It seems that the French eat really well, but don’t have the obesity issues that Americans struggle with.
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 11, 2016 at 7:36 am Reply

      Ha ! You have just given me the idea for another post !

  15. Coco June 11, 2016 at 10:21 pm Reply

    I thought casserole was a French word! interesting on sandwiches. I rarely take them for lunch but am having egg sandwiches for late dinners these days.

    • Karen - Fit in France June 12, 2016 at 8:12 am Reply

      Casserole does sound French, but no 🙂

  16. Tina@GottaRunNow June 12, 2016 at 3:13 am Reply

    Fun topic! I try to eat lots of vegetables, even at breakfast if I can. I wonder if they serve French fries with all of the meals at restaurants like they do here in the US?
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 12, 2016 at 8:11 am Reply

      No, fries are not served with every dish. Depends on the restaurant. At a steak house, you have the option…fries, potato, rice, salad or veggie. In an upscale restaurant, its rare. In a café, yes always !

  17. Ana June 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm Reply

    I love this! So many things that are the same in Mexico! We don’t have big breakfast, we have a cup of coffee, or milk with a piece of bread. Only the farmers, or those who are going off to do manual labor eat a big breakfast, but it’s eaten at 8 or 9 am… because they have been up since 5 am.

    We don’t have casseroles in Mexico either! meals are more of an event where we are to sit, eat and enjoy, not be rushed to stuff something in our mouth.
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    • Karen - Fit in France June 13, 2016 at 10:28 pm Reply

      I love food cultures from different countries. Always so interesting. I was in Mexico recently and LOVED the food.

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