The French have a tradition of gathering together on Sundays to enjoy a long, leisurely lunch with family and friends. I first read about this tradition in a book by Susan Hermann Loomis called In a French Kitchen. Since my husband and I love food, cooking and France, we adopted this custom for our weekends. Soon our Sunday lunches expanded to include friends from France and local friends as well. This past Sunday we had nine people around our table.
We take turns hosting but almost always follow the same routine. Guests congregate around noon and we enjoy three courses. The first course is the hor d’œuvre or entrée course and usually includes nuts, olives, radishes in salt and butter (a traditional French dish) and a glass of rosé or cava. This course can also include soup.
Then we continue on to the plat principal or main course. We often have fish, sometimes chicken and on a rare occasion we’ll have beef. This course will include several side dishes, usually a starch and a vegetable. And, bien sur, there is always bread, beaucoup de pain.
Chicken Marbella is a stunning dish to make for a crowd. On a different occasion, an autumn, orzo salad pictured below, made a hearty addition to the meal.
Pictured below is Pommes Anna, a traditional French potato dish, and fennel in vodka sauce; c’est délicieux!
When it’s just my husband and I on Sundays, we often have a vegetarian dish for our plat principal. Pictured below is eggplant parmesan and a frittata.
At this point, we often take a break from eating to enjoy a game, or other activity. In the past we have done some singing together. When we return to the table we will have le fromage et la salade.
The conversation is always lively and interesting; the break between courses allows us to change the topic, as well as the food.
By late afternoon we are ready for the final course; dessert, which is often served with coffee or tea.
The photo below was taken at the home of our friend and fellow Francophile, Mary Lamery. We have enjoyed many delicious Sunday lunches at her home. As a side note, check out her webpage here. She is a talented and dedicated artist, her works are original and beautiful. She is a blogger as well.
There are many benefits of sharing meals together from strengthening relationships to building bonds. Studies have shown that children who live in homes where eating together is a daily ritual are more likely to be physically and mentally healthier than children from homes where meals are not consumed together. When our daughter was young, we always sat down around the table for meals. Now that we are empty nesters, we still eat together, without any distractions.
The food doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. In fact, quick, simple meals eaten together will provide the same benefits as more complicated meals. Keep it simple during the week. There are a multitude of quick meal tips and ideas available online. The main thing is to eat together without distractions.
I throughly enjoy this tradition that we have added to our weekend routine. It is a lovely way to slow down, relax, reflect on the events of the week, anticipate the week ahead and spend some quality time together. There is something special about sharing a meal and breaking bread, something far deeper than just eating. It creates a comfortable environment where we can open up, share our thoughts, feelings, concerns and allows us to connect on a more intimate level. I can’t imagine a life without sharing meals with others.
I hope this post inspires you to cook and share a meal with your loved ones. As always, please leave a comment with you thoughts and experiences.