The other day I was in a Parisian restaurant with a longtime friend. We were having a good time and laughing, notably over the fact that we were eating hamburgers. They’re all the rage now in Paris, but we old-timers who have lived here for more than four decades remember when the French didn’t even know what a hamburger was, let alone make or eat them.
In my first book, French Toast, I describe making a hamburger for my traditional French father-in-law back in the 70s. It was a fun idea, but difficult. In those olden days, there were no hamburger buns so the village baker consented to make a batch especially for me (after I had shown him a picture). Neither of my in-laws had ever eaten a hamburger. My belle-mère was intrigued – and my beau-père was horrified, mainly at the idea that you would eat that huge concoction with all its overlapping layers and sauces with your HANDS. (As a matter of fact, still today, you see French people daintily eating those monsters with knives and forks).
Well, times have certainly changed in France. And not just hamburgers. In the past, French people looked at each other while they ate. They had animated conversations – or romantic ones. They looked into each other’s eyes. Now they are more likely to search their iPhone for their mail. They even (but less than Americans, I would say) take pictures of their food to post on Facebook or one of the other social media sites to show to their “followers”.
Mon Dieu !
We did indeed ask the waiter to take a couple of pictures of us with our hamburgers but I didn’t post them on Facebook on purpose. Why? After watching people (of all nationalities) in restaurants who superbly ignore their companion (s) while engaging with their phones, I made the firm decision not to follow their (bad) example.
I have decided to be more “in the moment”. When I’m dining, in a restaurant, whether with a friend or family member, I want to concentrate on our conversation, on looking around me, on savoring the food, the ambiance. On being where I am. I want to de-connect my gadgets and re-connect with the food I’m relishing and the person who is with me. No phone calls while I dine, no looking at email, no searching on Google.
Et voilà! Un hamburger sans teléphone!