In the time it would take to fix a gastronomic meal in France, the average American could fix and eat 6-7 meals. In the time it would take to eat a gastronomic meal in France, the average American could squeeze in watching two average American films.
Now the French don't eat every meal in such a fashion. One of my first meals in Paris was at a sandwich place where you leaned against tables while eating a baguette avec jambon et beurre et fromage. (What they do with ham and butter and cheese is simple yet amazing.) I saw many people dining in the Jardin du Luxembourg at lunchtime, and they didn't take 3 hours. Some of the young people even had McDonald's.
What was nice about the gastronomic meal, based on the lecture I saw on the topic, was that everyone is involved in the preparation of the meal. If you are a guest, you help. If you are a child, you help. Everyone is involved, socially and work-wise.
The French gastronomic meal is about food, and the care and preparation is meticulous. One example from the lecture was a main course where the preparation of the main course started 3 days before the meal. Aperitif, hors d'ouevres, fish course, meat course, cheese course, main dish, dessert, coffee: that is probably not a complete list.
The French gastronomic meal is also about friends, family, and conversation. Topics that might upset digestion are left for a different time, ideally away from food, but particularly at a meal such as this. The gastronomic meal is a feast of food, friends, family, and fun.
Americans eat in their car, on the run, on the train and bus, while dealing with their spouse or kids, in front of the computer, the TV, the smart phone, at their desk, in front of the computer at their desk.
The idea of taking an entire day and preparing such a meal feels foreign. Yes, Thanksgiving is a North American holiday, and don't we have that tradition on Thanksgiving? Besides the fact that it's a once-a-year meal, the courses are all designed to be served at once. Not everyone helps out, if we're being honest. Other than the standard turkey, the preparation isn't as elaborate. And we don't sit around the Thanksgiving table for 3 hours. Football needs to be watched, dishes need to be soaked, people need to nap so they can be awake for the stores to be open at midnight for Christmas shopping.
This isn't to say that Americans should eat like the French. I noted in a follow-up question that a lot of the food in the gastronomic meal has to be served cold or near cold for the concept to work well. (Can't imagine too many microwaves in the French countryside.) This wouldn't be acceptable to a lot of Americans.
But we can borrow some concepts. Invite friends over and have them help in the kitche while the conversation flows. You can make individual pizzas and have each guest put just what they want on the pizza, or set up a taco bar and spend the time with multiple sous chefs.
Come up with cold or room temperature dishes to stretch out a meal to an hour. If/when the weather is warm, make a simple meal and lay out a blanket and enjoy a meal outdoors.
We know most days you will eat like you do with some electronic entertainment. Every so often, break the mold and try something different. Then you can truly say "Bon Appetit."