France: Le Gouté (To Taste)
|Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757 -1824) Le gouté|
Le gouter is the afternoon snack time for children and adults in the French culture. It is a meal that bridges lunch and dinner. A light dinner usually served between 7.00 and 7.30 pm, le gouter is served anytime between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm when the children are back from a school day and as a pick-me-up for adults, especially for farming country. This is also known as le quatre heures - the 4 o'clock afternoon snack.
The snack usually consists of saucisson - hard salami, tartine et chocolate - a few squares from a plain tablet of semi-sweet, pain du chocolate or fruits or cheese or yogurt or Tartines (bread-and-butter or open faced sandwiches) and some homemade jam, with the beverage of choice like orange juice or hot chocolate.
However, le gouter is not just for children but adults also enjoy this afternoon interlude. The adult choices usually include a cup of expresso or tea or sparkling water with fruit syrups, along with some light cookies or cakes or whatever can be pulled together from the larder. The resurgence of this tradition in France was introduce by the nostalgia of the baby-boomers but never left the farm country in France as it was a break before the evening milking of the cows.
The entire goal of this interlude is a slowing down in the middle of the day. The gathering together and the enjoyment of the hours gone and what is to come. The entire process is about savoring life and the company of the people you are with, an informal gathering, while enjoying the preparation of the le gouter.