From time immemorial France has been famed for its gastronomy, which each year draws many foreign tourists to the country and into its restaurants. In these days of a quickening pace of life, however, when both partners work and there are so many sources of – actual and virtual – leisure activity, are the French still attached to their gastronomy and do specific food styles still prevail in France?
Céline Laisney has investigated this topic and she proposes, in two articles (the second will appear next month), to take stock of French cooking and eating habits. This first article focuses on developmental trends in recent decades. It enables us to see how the French eat today and the major trends likely to influence their cooking and eating habits in future years. After indicating the (relative) decline in expenditure on food in France and the qualitative changes in food consumption, Laisney reminds us of the degree to which inequalities still exist in this area (malnutrition, food insecurity etc.). She also stresses the increased consumption of ready meals and meals eaten outside the home, and the diversification of sites of food purchase, which attest to a degree of “catch-up” with behaviour observed in other – chiefly Anglo-Saxon – countries. At the same time, however, she shows that the French model of cooking and eating (which maintains the centrality of good food and the conviviality that goes with it) is holding up well and still has a meaningful presence.