In his book, Joie de Vivre, Robert Arbor devotes a chapter to la pause gourmande, the afternoon break. He points out that here in America, schoolchildren take that pause; it is the after school snack. Children come home from school and have a snack before playing or doing homework. Do you remember this from your childhood? For the French, this pause persists, and Arbor talks about his own afternoon break as an adult, living in New York City.
During the summer in Annecy, we eat a late dinner so we do have an afternoon snack. The boys might have a banana or a Pom'pote, my sister and I will have an afternoon tea and a sweet, my brother-in-law might have an espresso, or a beer and some olives or nuts. Sweet or savory, the pause gourmande is part of the French way of living.
True to my idea of blogging about bringing inexpensive but simple and authentic French touches into one’s life, la pause gourmande is at the top of the list. Truly, this is something that costs nothing. It only requires a shift in attitude, a way of thinking differently about your day. As Arbor says, the idea is to “have a little break that adds to your joie de vivre.”
So what do I do here at home, far away from the leisurely summer days in France? It depends on my schedule, but I might have a coffee when I stop in the bakery to buy bread. Or, I’ll sit down for a snack when I get home, but before I begin dinner. Some days it may only be a cup of tea, some days my son will join me, but everyday I take time to pause. Happily it’s a habit that was easy to establish, and I look forward to it every afternoon.
Small changes make can make a big difference in the way we live. Do you have a favorite way to pause?