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The Quintessential French Meal

Paris, France

Enjoy a French meal, with all the tasty courses and clichés (escargot, onion soup, steak tartare, cheese, crème brûlée, and coffee), following the advice of a Frenchman, who would never rush a good meal.

Complete Video Script

I’m taking Arnaud to lunch. Against his advice, I’m eating all the Parisian cuisine clichés — in one meal.

Arnaud: Santé, Rick.
Rick: Santé!
Arnaud: This is a kir, you know? A good, civilized way to start the meal.
Rick: So that’s an aperitif? Tell me about the aperitif.
Arnaud: Aperitif is to open your appetite.
Waiter: Escargot…
Rick: Escargot!
Arnaud: Oh Rick, look that. It looks fabulous.
Rick: This looks very nice.
Arnaud: Merci…soupe d’oignon.
Rick: So, this is the first course?
Arnaud: Yes, this is the entrée, and actually you guys call the “entrée” the main course, when the entrée is the starter in France.
Rick: That makes sense actually. Okay, I have my escargot, and I just use this.
Arnaud: Allors, yes.
Rick: So, you stab it and you twist it out? Oh look at that!
Arnaud: It comes out eventually. It’s very chewy you might say.
Rick: Oh that’s good.
Arnaud: It’s good eh? Garlic, parsley…
Rick: You know, a lot of tourists don’t want the escargot, but I love it.
Rick: What is the history of the onion soup?
Arnaud: Ah, the onion soup is something you eat more in the wintertime. Because, you know, it was to warm up the employees of the central market.
Rick: I eat the onion soup all the year.
Arnaud: I love it! You guys, Americans are eating everything all year round!
Rick: Merci, I think.
Arnaud: This is the main course: plat principal in French.
Rick: Plat principal
Arnaud: Plat principal.
Rick: OK, the “principle plate.”
Arnaud: Absolutely yes.
Rick: Steak tartare — very famous.
Arnaud: Steak tartare yes. Do you know what it is of?
Rick: No.
Arnaud: It’s fresh raw beef.
Rick: This is raw beef?
Arnaud: Raw beef, but very fresh. The spice comes from the Worcestershire sauce, the ketchup, the mustard, the Tabasco, salt and pepper and the yolk of an egg and then you just mix that altogether with the beef.
Rick: Do you like it?
Arnaud: Yes, I love it.
Rick: You’ve introduced me to something new.
Arnaud: This was so good.
Rick: I can’t believe I’m eating raw beef and it tastes good.
Arnaud: It is good, eh?
Rick: Wow, especially with some red wine.
Arnaud: Mmm-hmm! So, we are, you know, having now the cheese course, which is very important. You don’t end up a meal without some cheese. And basically, you know, you order cheese to finish the wine and then you order more wine to finish the cheese!
Rick: It’s a nice cycle.
Arnaud: Oh, it’s vicious circle.
Rick: A vicious cycle!
Arnaud: Ah, this is dessert time, Rick. You’re having crème brûlée and I have a fondant au chocolat. This is sacred, you know, for lunchtime — to stop for at least an hour. We don’t work. Look at these people; they’ve been here forever. Yes, it’s sacred. Enjoy.
Rick: OK!

Rick: So the coffee always comes after all of the food?
Arnaud: After the dessert…always.
Rick: What if you ask for your coffee with the meal?
Arnaud: They’d say “Yes, sure,”…but it would come after the meal. They don’t want to be rude.
Rick: OK…

Rick: What a meal!
Arnaud: Excellent, wasn’t it?
Rick: I’m heading for the Orsay Gallery.
Arnaud: Go ahead; I’m finishing my cognac.
Rick: Au revoir.
Arnaud: Bye-bye Rick!