Lately, doggy bags have made French news. There’s a push to prevent food wastage, and to allow people to take the rest of their meals home with them. Restaurants in France are now legally obliged to provide doggy bags.
When I first moved to France, I confused a few waiters by asking for a doggy bag. Taking food out of the restaurant is simply not the done thing here in the French Alps, nor in most other parts of France. When I lived in the UK and Australia, a doggy bag was part of the restaurant experience. For example, I’d order a pizza, but only eat half of it so I’d have room for dessert. The next day, I’d get to enjoy the remainder of my pizza. It was a socially acceptable thing to do.
Here in France, when I asked for the remainder of my pizza to be boxed up in one of those takeaway boxes on the counter, the waiter thought I was crazy. He obliged, but my French dinner partner was beyond embarrassed. The idea in France seems to be to spend hours in a restaurant, eating, talking and drinking, until each course is finished and being digested to the point that the next course may begin. After that first encounter, I’ve opted to eat my pizza and skip dessert — my digestion apparently takes longer than most French people
Regardless of the new law, I think the real French opinion is captured in the doggy bags already on sale in the supermarket. They’re certainly destined to take something away, but nothing edible. Yes, here in France, the ‘doggy bag’ is used to clean up your dog’s poo. Bon appetit!