France has never taken to the “doggie bag,” the practice born during World War II in the US of bringing leftover scraps home for pets, which evolved into taking uneaten food home for later human consumption.
One poll suggests that 55% of French people have never used a doggy bag before (link in French). But in the fight against food waste, that may now change. France’s main hospitality union has signed a deal with a company called TakeAway to supply restaurants with microwaveable boxes in its quest to “generalize the use of doggie bags.”
This may be easier said that done. Doggie bags are seen as the mark of “boorish Anglo-Saxon diners,” as AFP puts it. French portions are not as enormous as those in many American restaurants, and French culture doesn’t embrace the idea of dinner as a continuous event. One restauranteur in Lyon has said he packs one doggie bag per week at most—out of 500 customers. “They were much more likely to take home what was left in their bottle of wine,” he told the New York Times.
One person, a convert to the doggie bag, told The Local:
Like many French people I was raised with the instruction, ‘You will finish what I put on your plate’. So even now when I go out to eat, no matter the size of the portion, I finish everything even if I’m full. So doggie bags are simply not part of the French way of doing things.
Even if they can shed the stigma in France, there is still one thing left to figure out: What to call them? So far, in the few places they exist, they still go by the Franglais of “le doggie bag.”