I expect to dine alone occasionally while in Paris and don’t expect to be able to finish that wonderful cheese course! Do I dare request a doggy bag or should I just bid adieu to those beautiful cheeses (after taking small tastes)?
Yes it is rather gauche. Let's say there are three common kinds of cheese course. Even as part of a prix-fixe menu, the cheese course is often optional.
1) Optional - Skip it and buy cheese for your picnic lunch when you're hungrier.
2) Single-serving - One to three pre-portioned varieties on a plate for you. If you have a wrapper in your purse, you could slip some in.
3) Multiple varieties - Either served to you from a board/trolley, or even better, they could leave the board on your table! Just take what you can eat. No doggy bag!!
Thanks so much Laura! Just the kind of expert advice I was looking for!
If you actually call it a "doggy bag" then yes because you are calling their food dog food. If you ask for the remainder of your meal to be packed up to take away, not so much. Restaurant may not agree to do it, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
No longer gauche at all. In fact the city is now asking restaurants to honor all such requests in an effort to save the amount of food being wasted and thrown away daily.
It's unlikely that you'll need to as portions won't be of the American size although saying that I recall a hotdog my son once ordered being about 2' long!
It's been maybe 5-8 years since I've been to Paris, I think things may be changing and it's a little more acceptable now than it used to be, at least in casual or moderate places. However, do not use the phrase "doggy bag"! Even in the US that term is considered gauche by some! I don't speak French - there's probably a phrase for asking for your leftovers to be packed (often the local term for take-away or to-go is sufficient).
I agree that it would not be a problem in Paris (or elsewhere in France), with the exception of the cheese part if it's a cheese board or trolley.
Thanks to everyone! Will be sure not to say “sac de chien”! ;)
The French will understand the term doggy bag. No need to translate.
In the last century, say 20 years ago and before, I think it would have been considered gauche to ask for a doggy bag in Paris. But now, well, nobody cares, not even the Parisians, and they used to be so picky, but now they have low expectations of tourists from N. America (but not including Canadians!).
A emporter=To take out.
Evidently "gauche" is my middle name -- I carry sandwich-size Ziploc bags in my copious cross-body bag, and pack up wonderful extras. As discreetly as possible. (As you may have guessed, we do NOT usually frequent Michelin-starred restaurants.)
To clarify, if I have eaten part of something good, I will take the rest. I generally do NOT empty out the bread basket ... nor snag the leftovers from the next table. And much as I love mousse au chocolat, it doesn't go home in a baggie.
In my experience it is not gauche anymore. It once was frowned upon and waiters would be surprised and a bit scandalized at such a request; but not now.
I would not do it in Paris myself, however, but not because it might make me look overly frugal, but because eating wonderful foods in Paris is one of the main reasons I keep returning to the city. I want to do that as much as I can. Eating the dregs of last night's meal would only serve to spoil my appetite for the next lovely meal.
To put it more bluntly, I will be damned if I will go to Paris to eat leftovers!
It's only gauche on the Rive Gauche.........bad, bad, bad I know.
Something like pizza or a sandwich I would definitely ask to take as those are good leftovers.
When you ask for a petit morceau of cheese to take with you, be cautious in choosing an Epoisses de Bourgogne, even though it is my favorite of all cheeses, as it was Napoleon's. I have heard it is the only cheese one is forbidden to carry on the Metro because of the aroma. The French say, "It may smell like feet, but it is the feet of Angels!".
Last summer in Brittany we over ordered on the pizza. We (ma pa and 2 teenagers) debated over taking it back to the apartment with us or not (some thought it would make a good breakfast). We asked the waiter and he was very helpful. It was not a problem. It seems in 2016 tbey passed a law that favored the use of "doggy' bags. The main focus was on stopping food from being wasted.
There is a new proposed law that will make it easier to take home leftovers.
Wasting food is not politically correct nor progressive thinking.
It's definitely not common like in the US. I've seen people ask dozens of times. Sometimes the waiter looks like he just got acid reflux but complies with the request. Other times it's treated as no big deal. I don't believe I've ever seen a local ask for a to go (emporter) or doggy bag even though their dog is sitting under the table.
I've ordered pizza in France and had it brought to the table in a pizza box, along with a plate a silver-ware. They expected me not to eat the whole thing - and anticipated the need.
If you're worried about appearing couth, I'd skip the request for a take home container and focus on enjoying the meal.
Togard's rely is absolutely correct.. "No longer gauche at all. In fact the city is now asking restaurants to honor all such requests in an effort to save the amount of food being wasted and thrown away daily.'
This has been honored for a few years now. We've had some of our best next day lunches by taking our left overs from dinners home.
If the cheese course is an individual service just for you, then I would certainly ask to take it. but not if it was meant to serve other tables too.
By the way, if you get to Vienna and order schnitzel (the one that hangs over the side of the plate) it's almost expected that you will want to take the extras home.
What is frowned upon more in Paris...Asking for a doggy bag OR bringing food to your hotel room? I think they are equally looked down on but only in finer establishments.
I have read 'doggy bag' meaning the bags used for picking up after your dog. It is time to wean that from your restaurant conversation.
In France, it's Le Doggy Bag as in this article.
The French do not even have their own term for the concept, instead referring to “le doggy bag”.
Merci 75020 for the link to the article. I’m glad I posted the question, but didn’t need to request “le doggy bag”, as I found the portion size wonderful and absolutely perfect. It’s great to know that food wastage is being addressed, but I hope this doesn’t lead to biggie-sizing everything!
Interesting that gauche is French for left, and English uses it as a synonym for crass.
I carry a few ziplock bags in my purse for that reason. A few times, I have ordered a salad that had so much meat and cheese I could not eat all of it. Some meat & cheese came home to my appartement with me. It was great for breakfast! This was not a fancy restaurant at all. I do this at home too,
Nothing wrong with not wasting food or taking food you cannot eat home with you in Paris. I, however, would never do so. Eating wonderful freshly prepared food is one of the primary reasons I go to France. To save a few pennies by eating leftovers the nest day seems to me to defeat the purpose of the trip.
Agreed, nukesafe! And un euro saved in one place can be well-spent in another!
We cook in most nights in Paris with the wonderful foods from the markets and shops and only go out occasionally. There is rarely leftover food as the portions in the splurge restaurants are modest, but if we did have a huge amount of meat left over, it would be a perfect ingredient in the next day's stew or omelette or cassoulet. It is not the done thing in Paris, but if they start upsizing portions as occurs in the US, I imagine it will be. We once took home most of a magnificent pork chop in Florence. After the wonderful soup course I was not hungry enough to eat it. That restaurant did a lot of neighborhood catering and so were prepared with take out materials; I was reluctant to ask but it was no problem and it became the meat in a lovely pasta dish I made for dinner the next day.
When we were in Beaune, France last fall, we ate at one of Ricks recommended restaurants that specialized in various pork/pig meat. We had our Chocolate Lab with us, and the chef and owner asked if we wanted a doggie bag (my leftover sausages for the dog). We not only got mine, but probably a pound of leftovers from other diners also. Clearly, if Barley ate all that in one sitting, the end result would have not have been pretty.
Most places it wouldn’t be appropriate; some places it is — I got a to-go container for the rest of my focaccia sandwich at a pizzeria just last week and they were happy to do it for me — but the idea of collecting up all the cheese from the cheese course and stuffing it in one’s purse is definitely gauche and makes me cringe.
Ahem, stuffing them into my purse?
I kinda like the idea of having a few zip lock bags for a half eaten sandwich or something like that. I wouldn't put salad or spaghetti in there lol. Also, I'd probably try to do this as clandestinely as possible to avoid embarrassment. I hate wasting food.