Frenchy Ways To Eat For Pleasure and Good Health: Apéritif
Oh, la, la! Frenchy ways to eat for pleasure and good health…must include the French apéritif! The apéritif or cocktail hour in France is a time-honored tradition of enjoying a drink and a pause before a meal in France. The French apéritif is a wonderful way to enjoy the meal to come, from simple to celebratory meals. It is number 4 on the list of Ways to Eat for Pleasure and Good Health. So important is this apéritif time, or cocktail hour as we may know it, that perhaps it should have been ranked #1 on major cool ways to enjoy French pleasures! The apéritif itself, with its sweeter wines, champagne, beer, pastis, or just with a “jus de fruit” (fruit juice) is a real treasured time and helps to move from the non-stop movement of the day to relaxation for the evening. The apéritif is enjoyed with small finger foods or just a bowl of nuts.
The Apéritif as a Way to Eat for Pleasure and Good Health
The apéritif is one of my personal favorite aspects of French eating. Why? Because enjoying this cocktail (non alcoholic or alcoholic) before the meal actually helps me to sip and savor the menu in a relaxed and pleasurable state of mind. Promoting pleasurable eating as a way to good health includes eating in this relaxed state. Why not include the apéritif as a way to change your attitude before eating? Imagine this: bad day at work but you are invited to a good friend’s house for dinner. You leave work feeling on edge and hungry too. Arriving to your friend’s house you see the small cocktail table set up for the apero. A couple different bottles of apéritif cocktails, some fruit juice, soda, a small bowl of nuts, a little plate of crackers seasoned with flavors. Your friend says “Qu’est ce que je te sers comme apéritif?” (What cocktail can I serve you for the apéritif?) You sit down, you feel your body starting to really let go. Your friend hands you your apero, you enjoy it slowly nibbling some nuts. You talk about your day with your friend. Now you are really starting to feel good, life is ok again. Time to eat dinner…no matter what will be served, one thing is sure… you feel relaxed, less stressed, ready to just enjoy the meal. This is a great way to eat for pleasure and good health. Le joie de vivre!!!
History of the Apéritif
These apéritif drinks have been enjoyed for centuries. Some of the most famous “vin apéritif” include those currently exported out of France: Dubonnet, Lillet, Pernod, Pastis, Pineau de Charentes, Vermouth, Floc de Gascogne. In fact, Dubonnet was developed in 1846 by the French chemist, Joseph Dubonnet as a malaria-fighting drink for the French foreign legion soldiers in North Africa. This Dubonnet wine apértif contained herbs and spices to help mask some of the strong malaria “medicine” quinine and was distributed to the French soldiers to protect them against malaria. Madame Dubonnet enjoyed this drink; so did her girlfriends, and thus this drink became popularized. Oh la la…the French way of fighting diseases with food and drink! Actually the history of apéritif wines and liqueurs are wide and long. For more information, see a more complete article on this long history of French cocktails.
Ideas of Non Alcoholic Apéritif drinks and Ways To Enjoy
Just because you are enjoying an apéritif doesn’t mean it must be alcoholic. In fact, the Frenchys are drinking less and less alcohol these days, primarily because of stricter alcohol and driving enforcement. This cocktail hour is a time period, even a short pause to transition to relaxation and pleasure eating. We can also stimulate the palate with non alcoholic drinks. A Perrier or any sparkling water. Tomato juice? Yum… or any fruit juice. A non alcoholic wine or beer. A glass of water with a twist of lemon. There are many possibilities, what are yours? The point is, enjoy your food and use the apéritif time as a zen pause. A time to chat with close friends, your partner, your family. Whether at home, at the restaurant, in a cafe on the way home from work…It is really a privileged moment! ENJOY and Bon Appetit!!
If you would like to start your own “apéritif sessions” check out this book on French apéritif. Let me know how it goes, you may become a regular “apéritifer.”