“Tchin tchin”! These two words are often heard during the aperitif, or more familiarly the aperitif. It is a very nice ritual, many millennia old and much appreciated in different occasions. The vast majority of French people love to participate in this tradition on a regular basis, at home, at work, in an important event, etc. Yes, because it is a real convivial moment. But where does this tradition come from and why is it important for the French?
What is an aperitif?
The word “aperitif” comes from the Latin “apertivus”, itself derived from “aperire”, meaning “to open” in French. It is for this reason that it is served before the meal and used to open the appetite. Usually, the session starts after toasting. It usually includes light meals, such as appetizers with the famous chips, peanuts and pistachios, petits fours, cut fruit, cold cuts, cheese, olives, etc.
Different possibilities are possible. They are accompanied by drinks, usually based on plants that are well known for their aperitif properties (aniseed or gentian), or cocktails. The people who take part in the aperitif take advantage of this convivial moment to discuss before having a delicious meal together.
The origin of the tradition
The birth of the word goes back to the ancient Egyptian times, where the Egyptian people gathered at the end of the day, after work, to share some dates and dried fruits with a good warm beer “heneqet”. Afterwards, the tradition was taken up by the ancient Greeks and then by the Romans during huge banquets.
The habit of toasting the glasses before launching the festivities began in the Middle Ages. At that time, the purpose was to protect oneself from poisoning attempts, which were very common at that time to eliminate enemies. Gin and tonic or pastis were not yet among the leading drinks, wines made from plants with appetite stimulating virtue were used. Some people consume liqueurs to warm up in the cold weather.
In France, the aperitif was born in the 19th century in the mountainous regions. Herbal alcoholic beverages such as anise, gentian, absinthe, etc. were in the spotlight. The concept developed before conquering all countries of the world. The French used to take it in the evening to ease digestion.
The aperitif, a favorite tradition of the French
The aperitif is an unavoidable ritual for the French. Some studies show that the vast majority of them organize an aperitif dinner, even for a classic dinner. All participants have some snacks and wine or other alcoholic beverages before moving on to the meal. This little tradition has several advantages.
A real moment of conviviality
More and more French people enjoy these small pre-dinner gatherings, which are a pleasant moment of conviviality. Everyone gathers in one place to share snacks with a drink in hand. Everyone is free to do whatever they want to relax, improvisation is the rule.
For these descendants of the Gauls, the aperitif is synonymous with leisure, well-being and exchange. Among other things, in the professional context, it is an opportunity to renew relationships with colleagues. It is also the ideal moment to reconnect with family, friends and relatives.
A true moment of discovery
There is no code to the aperitif. It’s an opportunity to taste, or even try out in a fun way, recipes you’ve never tried before: new charcuterie, small homemade cakes, vegetable baskets, or even the unavoidable tartines. The French tradition sometimes puts forward local products, local products, healthy products and original products during aperitifs.