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Simple preparation, fresh foods and no snacking are the three basics of French food and French eating habits. Many classic dishes are easy to prepare, and the French keep their appetites sharp for them.
Some great French dishes start out surprisingly humble. Onion soup is basically onions cooked in water. Quiches and souffles are puddings made with eggs, butter and milk. French chocolate cakes are small, rich and not iced.
Traditionally a French family does not eat dinner in 30 minutes. Meals are leisurely and conversation is important. Working parents might begin dinner prep at 6 pm; the family will typically eat at 8:30 or 9pm.
A French family is more likely to end a meal with fruit or cheeses than with a heavy pudding.
Typically the French frown on constant between-meals snacks. After school, children do eat a pain au chocolate (piece of bread and chocolate) at about 4:30 pm to tide them over until a late dinner.
While wine consumption has been declining in France, it's still a normal part of life there. Children are introduced to it young.
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