Eat breakfast like a king

French Croissants

 “Eat breakfast like a king, have lunch like a prince, and dine like a beggar.”

So goes the French saying, but Americans might be surprised to find that traditional French breakfasts are very light and never savory. Even King Louis XIV, who was famous for his monumental lunch and dinner banquets, preferred a breakfast consisting of nothing more than tea and broth.

The French love of food and art are combined in Childe Hassam’s painting The French Breakfast, which depicts a woman sitting up in a luxurious curtained bed, enjoying a single croissant and coffee from a silver-laid tray.

This is more what the expression means: breakfast is a meal not to be rushed, but to be savored and enjoyed. This perfect calmness of spirit is captured in Marie Dalver’s An Elegant Breakfast Still Life, which features cups, platters of grapes, and even (we hope) some wine.

Even a traditional French breakfast may include some adventurous elements to liven up your morning. In the north coastal region of Brittany, fresh oysters may add some excitement to the breakfast menu.

Another unique addition to a traditional French breakfast is…radishes? Believe it or not, these long, pink-tipped, sweet root vegetables are called French breakfast radishes in English – though not in French. These are sliced and eaten on a baguette with herbed butter, and are delicious.

A real French breakfast

A traditional French breakfast may contain some surprises, but you can always be sure of bread and coffee. Other additions such as a newspaper and cigarette are optional.

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