Lunch Time In Italy and France

The one thing in common about lunch time in France 
and Italy is that you can be sure that at least 
several options will include beautiful cheeses 
and luscious hams in as many different ways 
as possible.  Sandwiches, salads, quiches, 
pastas and pizzas are a few of your lunch choices.

Also the great thing about both countries is their love 
of food and the abundance of small shops that feature 
their particular specialties.  Lunch times at these 
small shops always consist of long lines of 
anxious customers waiting to buy something 
to eat so that they can head to a park 
and enjoy their lunch in the warm sun.
This little cheese shop is one of my favorites and 
it is located on rue Cler which is the famous market 
street in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.
These beautiful soft goat cheeses are as good to eat 
as they are to look at and the prices are very reasonable.  
In the warmer months, the store adds a huge 
cheese counter outside the store to serve their 
customers even better.  It's a small shop and 
on the weekends, it can become quite crowded 
as the Parisians shop for their Sunday dinners.
And the butcher shops in Italy are as plentiful as 
the cheese shops in Paris.  The pig reigns supreme 
in this foodie country and in most restaurants, 
that would include wild boar on the menus.  
I didn't have the nerve to try that but I did love 
all the prosciuttos and cured meats.  

In both Italy and France, cheeses and cured meats 
are served for breakfast as well.  
This little shop was in Florence and we arrived early before the lunch crowd arrived at 1:00.  In both countries but especially Italy, most businesses close from about 1-3 p.m.
 so that all can enjoy their lunch.  Gas stations, grocery stores and other essential services have signs on their doors that they will be returning after lunch.  
But ... they do stay open later in the evening.

Now, can you imagine a business closing for lunch in 
North America?   It's rather nice I think.
In both Italy and France, pre-made sandwiches await the lunch crowd.  All kinds of sandwiches and if you prefer a hot sandwich, they are plopped into a panini machine.  

I always am fascinated by the number of Parisians 
who walk during lunchtime and eating their 
long sandwiches.  I'm intrigued how one can walk 
and eat at the same time but I guess I'm from the 
George Bush Sr.'s era where chewing gum and 
walking at the same time was a challenge.

Also contrary to popular belief, French women eat .... 
I couldn't believe how many Paris girls were merrily chomping away at these foot long sandwiches.  
Maybe the trick is to keep walking when eating???
This shop was in a small hill town in Tuscany and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a fully cooked pig 
sitting in their case.  The lady would just hack off 
a piece of the pork and make the sandwiches 
right in front of you.  

Driving through Tuscany, I saw a number of pigs in 
the farms and you wouldn't believe the size of them.  
They looked like small hippos but they certainly 
looked happier wallowing in the pig pen area 
than our pigs that are more manufactured.  
Natural food is a given in both countries.
There are cheese shops like this throughout Tuscany.  
I love the little rounds of hard cheeses and 
who doesn't love parmesan cheese?
This was our attempt at lunch in the park in Paris.  
What a beautiful day it was with Les Invalides in the background. We had such fun shopping 
for all the cheeses, salads, fruits, a baguette 
and of course, a bottle of wine.  
The celery root remoulade 
which is ithe foreground was so delicious.  

We enjoyed quite an offering of delicious food and 
I was so excited to taste everything that I forgot 
to take the picture.  This is what was left, 
sorry to say.  
But, it was a great lunch!

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