Go ahead and shovel those leftover morsels of boeuf bourguignon into le gourmet bag. Earlier this month, the French government issued a call for restaurants to offer diners the option of carting their uneaten portions home.
The practice is so uncommon that it was the basis for a confessional-style column in the newspaper Le Monde back in 2014. The French headline translates to, “I feel ashamed to ask for a ‘doggy bag.’” Respondents dished about the request as though it were an indulgence that they rarely allowed themselves—the etiquette equivalent of devilish chocolate lava cake.
“Some restaurants with truly elegant surroundings intimidate me, and I don’t dare to ask,” wrote one woman. She described a fear of eliciting the side-eye from waiters, and a nagging sense that the practice is gauche: “One feels that it’s not a polite thing to do.” To avoid having to ask for a container for leftovers, one family described bringing their own, and pulling off a stealthy under-the-table maneuver when the servers were out of view.