"If I didn't have French food in my life, I think I think I would die," Yohan Grillet declares. Despite this being a rather dramatic statement from the UAE-based Frenchman, it is reflective of the longstanding love affair between the French and their food. This is a country that was among the first to view food as far more than just mere sustenance and instead celebrated eating as a pleasurable, collective experience. From the café culture of Paris, to the cassoulet-serving bistros of Languedoc and multiple Michelin-starred eateries, food has long been a major part of Gallic history, society and national identity. Traditionally this extended well beyond the restaurant experience and into the home, where jovial evening meals brought generations together to leisurely savour their meals .
The French seem to possess an innate knowledge of how to eat well. As a nation they are known as masters of moderation; able to enjoy and be satisfied with a small portion of foie gras and brioche, just a slither of a delectable cheese, or a mouthful of cherry clafoutis. As the French-born Carine Duvignaud, now living in Dubai, observes: "The French know how to balance their meals. We eat plenty of vegetables, good carbohydrates, soups and fruit, and enjoy the occasional high-calorie treat, but it is just that; a savoured rarity."