The Surprising Bread Rule The French Follow

Once again, the French have set a standard in the culinary world. This time, we're not talking about designing the brilliant Croque Madame or Boeuf Bourguignon. We're not even referring to the legendary croissant. No, the major culinary lesson we've now learned from the French has to do with the one thing they know better than anyone else in the world: bread.

In the US, bread wears many hats. We've used it to make a sandwich or toast, as well as breadcrumbs and croutons. And most iconically, we've enjoyed it piled high in a basket at our table when dining out, accompanied by slabs of butter or a shallow bowl of olive oil. But it's this exact bread-before-dinner thing that we Americans have adopted as an integral part of the dining-out experience that the French say is a huge no-no.

You see, in France, bread is special. It's not meant to be wolfed down by hungry, impatient restaurant-goers that simply can't wait for their meal. According to Business Insider, bread in France is meant to be enjoyed with your meal.

In France, bread is to be enjoyed with the meal, not before it

This French etiquette makes sense — seeing as so many traditional recipes are drowning in brothy, salty deliciousness, why wouldn't the French want to eat bread with their meal to soak up all that good juice? Not to mention, the French are downright sophisticated. They don't spoil their appetites by stuffing their faces with an entire pre-meal baguette. They take their time. They enjoy their bread. They treat it as their meal's equal.

If you're not ready to give up the bread-before-dinner tradition, that's fine. We get it. There's nothing quite as satisfying as a piece of hot bread slathered in butter when you're really, really hungry. But maybe we can keep this odd little tradition between us Americans. And if we see you in Paris asking for a basket of bread before your meal, don't be surprised if we pretend we don't know you.