First Courses

Appears in

IN FRANCE, a first course is called (confusingly to English speakers) the entrée, which means “entry.” And to begin a French meal properly, there must be one. This is true for the simplest family supper or the most elegant restaurant meal. At home, the first course might be a soup or a crudité or perhaps something from the charcuterie, such as a slice of pâté. At a restaurant, the possibilities are expanded.

In the United States, first courses at home are rare except when entertaining. Americans have a tradition of putting the main part of the meal on the table all at once. The French break the meal into courses, serve smaller portions, and spend more time at the table. To my mind, this is one of the reasons the French do not have the obesity problems that we do. When you eat quickly, you tend to overeat.