Ah, dejeuner, that sacred pause in the middle of the day when the French leave their offices to spend 90 minutes to two hours à table enjoying a leisurely lunch with, as they say, “un quart de rouge,” or one-fourth of a glass of red wine (please do not read quart as a quart).
But no, wait a second, this is terrible. . .
A shocking(!) survey featured on France television’s Chanel 2 news the other night, reported that French office workers are, in record numbers, eschewing that delightful indulgence. Instead, they are doing what many Americans have been doing for decades, they’re toting their lunches to work, heating them in the microwave and eating at either their desk, in the conference room or a space in a “kitchen” area provided by their employers.
Who would have thought?
On the positive side, only 11 percent of the French skip lunch entirely, while 35 percent of Americans do and a rather astounding 45 of British workers don’t feel the need to eat midday.
Some 19 percent of the French eat lunch alone, 50 percent with coworkers, and one percent with their boss.
Some of the reasons reported behind the relatively new trend include the fact that bringing lunch from home is budget friendly and taking an hour or less for the midday meal takes less time away from work. Some 35 percent of office workers tote their gamelle (lunchbox), while 25 percent run out to buy a sandwich. In 2014 there were 1.3 billion sandwiches sold in France. Some 63 percent say that they are spending a maximum of five Euros for lunch with this routine.
Only 20 percent of employees chose the company cafeteria and 44 percent say they down their repasts in 20 to 30 minutes and 27 percent say they finish in less than 20 minutes.
Apart from the more practical aspects of bringing their lunch, usually leftovers, to the office — less expensive and less time consuming — nutrition was cited as a reason to pack their home prepared meal.
As one might expect, we’re in France after all, there is a parallel trend complimenting this “fast food” movement. Maybe you’ve already heard about, or are using, those stackable Japanese Bento boxes. Some appear totally utilitarian, while others are sweetly decorated.
Nathalie de Beaumont, a popular food blogger, declared in the reportage that Tupperware is totally passé and that she only uses the Japanese stackables, adding that she thinks of them as boîtes de bijoux, jewel boxes, because she fills them with beautiful food “that is also delicious.”