Jane Bradley: French lunch goes fast and furious

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QUELLE horreur! A report has revealed that France – that nation of gastronomes – now eats half of all restaurant meals at fast food establishments.

According to a report by food consultancy firm Gira Conseil, this makes the country the world’s second-biggest consumer of fast food after the US.

The reason, the study claims, is the shrinking French lunchbreak. While just a few years ago, our friends across the Channel indulged in an 80 minute sit-down lunchtime feast, either at home or in a full-service restaurant, now the typical break is just 22 minutes – making fast food so much more… well, fast… and therefore appealing.

While all of this is quite incroyable, I have never understood how, on the Continent, so many people managed to keep up the regular attendance of this heavy midday meal for so long.

Did they all work within a ten-minute walk of their homes? With their children at school just around the corner so they could all dine en famille every lunchtime?

My theory is that this was an urban myth, perpetuated by the delightfully Gallic existence of Martine Dhome and her family in school text book Tricolore. Off good old Martine went, tripping about La Rochelle on her daily business – and always ending up at home avec Mere and Pere for a tasty three-course feed.

So, if the poor time-strapped French want to grab a quick snack on the hoof, then maybe we should leave them alone – and quit expecting them to scarf down boeuf bourguignon and French onion soup every day just to fulfil our outdated French fantasies.

• I have been scared out of my complacency about the internet by news that online crime costs consumers and businesses in Scotland £5 billion every year.

Ahead of an eCrime conference in Edinburgh on 28 May, the Scottish Business Crime Centre’s Gary Ritchie warns that internet users need to ensure that their passwords and PIN numbers are secure. I’m off to give my online security a serious overhaul.