Tuesday, 8 April 2014

G is for Goûter

Ok, so most of these posts in my A to Z challenge are turning out to be about food.

It wasn't planned, and maybe it says something either about French culture or my response to it.

Today, I want to tell you about the Goûter. 

Goûter as a verb means to taste or to savour. It is the magic word to use if you want to try some cheese or saucisson in the market, or if the dish you are being offered in someone's home looks ominous and you want to limit your exposure to it.

More importantly, le Goûter, when used as a noun, refers to a particular moment in the day when the French capitulate and allow themselves to eat rubbish food.

It occurs at around 4pm, the hour when the English are putting the kettle on for a brew. It is enshrined in the day of every child, but adults too will guiltily partake. A drink is necessary - juice, water, maybe tea - but the main event is some sort of highly calorific snack.

When we have children staying, I often overlook the Goûter and find myself besieged by wan faces declaring their hunger at 4.10pm. If I have been organised, I offer them home made cakes, flapjacks or biscuits. I try to keep the baking as healthy as possible, with carrots, oats, raw brown sugar and free range eggs.

But as like as not, what the children really want, crave actually, is a slab or two of factory made white bread slathered an inch thick with Nutella. It must be significant too, that there are whole aisles in the supermarkets dedicated to le goûter, their shelves stacked with highly coloured biscuits and sugary snacks.

It is the guilty secret of French cuisine. Le déjeuner (see D is for Déjeuner) is balanced, wholesome and properly cooked. Le Diner too, is usually a healthy, home cooked meal.

The little Goûter sneaks in with its unrefined sugars and hidden saturated fats and demonstrates that underneath their body-conscious elegance, the French are just like the rest of us.


  1. Oh, what a great word! I will remember this when 4:00 comes around and I want to eat goodies.

    Just discovered your blog through the AtoZ list - it's great to meet you. I have a good friend who lives in France but I've never been myself. I love learning more about their culture.

    Untethered Realms

    1. Good to meet you too. Glad you like the blog. I have plenty more lined up (the rest of the alphabet!) including kissing and letterboxes. Stay tuned.

  2. Love it, new word to use. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It is a good word isn't it? And it so describes that moment when kids come home from school and descend like gannets on anything sweet and sugary.
      Are you A to Z ing?

  3. I like gthe food posts. But then I'm also blogging about food.

  4. Awesome! Think this is a great way for me to rationalize snacks! :)