--The richer classes take coffee early in the morning, and a meat breakfast at eleven or twelve; their dinner consists of soup, fish, or an entree, one roast dish, one sort of vegetable, served separately, a plat sucre, dessert, and black coffee.
But while this list seems to almost correspond, excepting in the form given to vegetables and coffee, with that of an English family, the difference of cost and preparation is great.
French dishes are always small; the pieces of meat seldom weigh more than three or four pounds, so that scarcely anything remains for the next day, especially as the servants dine after their masters, and eat up what is left.
If anything does stand over it serves for breakfast tomorrow.
This habit of cooking only just enough for daily wants, renders it easy to vary the composition of dinner, for it evades the necessity which exists so cruelly in England
, of ‘"eating up"’ large joints.
The construction of the kitchen fire-places is another facility for variety, the half-dozen little charcoal plates which constitute a French fournean, admitting as many separate saucepans at once, while roasting goes on at special detached fire at the side.
The peculiarly imitative nature of the French
is a further aid, for it enables clumsy peasant girls to become handy cooks after a few months' practice in the towns, and so produce a race of kitchen servants, who, with an ample allowance of all the defects of modern domesticity, have, at all events, the merits of knowing their trade.
The whole system is combined so as to reduce weight and waste, economise fuel, and render variety easy.
It is not, therefore, surprising that, notwithstanding the multiplicity of dishes, the cost of living should be moderate.
Even now, after all the augmentations of cost which have taken place of late years, a family of three or four persons, with two servants, can live really well in Paris
, with good management, for about nine shillings a day, including ordinary wine, kitchen fuel, and all supplementary expenses for food.
Charcoal is included in this average for sixpence, which is what it ought to average.
As, however, the composition of food in Paris
is generally superior to that of the other towns of France
, and is of course far above the general average of the whole country, this cost of nine shillings a day does not give a fair idea of the ordinary expenditure of a French middle class family.
In the provinces, and in towns where the price of food is not increased by active duties, it certainly does not exceed six shillings a day for five or six people.--Bentley's Magazine.