- Luckily for me, the Franche-Comté region houses makes of its own artisan cheeses. So far, the Mont D’Or is my fav. It has a “sens” like a Camembert but a different soft… kind of granular? I don’t know, but it’s good and I served it at our first little apartment party on really stale bread I revived in the microwave. A seasonal cheese, it’s best to eat all you can right now! I’ve heard it makes GREAT fondue for bread and potatoes; you just bake it in its little wooden box. This might be the prompt I need to actually buy the required oven. The taste of the Swiss-like Comté becomes stronger as it ages and you choose from 8-, 10-, 12-, or 18-month old batches in the stores. I’ve also tried L’Edel de Cleron, a brie relative, and the wonderfully gooey Cancoillote on pizzas and galettes.
- Bars are not the smoke and rap music-filled dens of uncomfortableness they can sometimes be back home. Think Chelsea’s or the Bulldog (when there’s not 1000 people there).
- I like wine, I know nothing about it, and am therefore quite easy to please. Preferring red, I’ve had my share of cheap Rhone-Alps and Bordeauxs here but the only local-ish wine I’ve gotten to try is one of the Jura whites. (FYI: French wine is named by the region in which it was made and not by the grapes like Italian wines.) I found it way more heady and nutty than the fruity and light white wines I’m used to (haha, listen to me pretending I can talk about wine…) and I can’t quite decide if I like it. I think I’ll wait to try the famed Vin Jaune of the region when Mom comes to visit because she can afford the 22€ a bottle.
- Beer is good. They do serve it cold. (Daddy, we now know that it’s safe for you to come to France.) They also serve each type of beer in its own branded glasses that make very nice souvenirs if your purse is big enough. Last summer I accidently asked for a liter of Stella that cost 10€. My reluctance to try to order creatively and end up with something else ridiculous led me to try the easy-to-say demi-sirops. If you successfully ask the bartender for one, he mixes a pint of the cheaper beer with any of the variety of flavored syrups (peach, raspberry, strawberry, cherry, mint, etc.). All I have to remember is the fruit vocab I hopefully learned in French II at SJA. Totally appealing, but they border on being too sweet, so I’ve moved on to the demi-blanches or demi-blondes (whichever the bartender thinks I’ve said). Plus, one is called Edelweiss, a glass I definitely took home, with Kelly’s help. A genius invention, the giraffe, is like getting a mini-keg for your table, and turns out to be cheaper for everyone involved.
- Street stands sell cheap and quick sandwiches, you just have to find your own place to eat them. Church steps and benches near the river work nicely. Half a baguette stuffed with ham and cornichons, goat cheese and tomatoes (and sometimes salmon if you unknowingly ask for it), or chicken and boiled eggs. For about 3 euros. I’m a fan. Especially the ones with the local cheeses, and have I told you about French mayonnaise? It’s about a 100 times more delicious than Helman’s or Kraft or, God forbid, Miracle Whip.
- A kabob here is a Lebanese gyro. I like it even better than the ones from restaurants at home (sorry, Serop’s). You know that cucumber dressing that you can taste for days? The French have replaced it with the wonderful sauce blanche. Plus, they give you these tiny forks to eat with it. Fun!
- The hamburgers are as big as your face and they eat their fries with mayonnaise (just like we learned in Pulp Fiction). Seriously, given my past brushes with food poisoning, I never though I would be so pro-mayonnaise. But as far as I know they refrigerate it, unlike their eggs, which I know they don’t.
- Almost ordered stomach the other day at a restaurant (you think I would have learned after the andouille affair*) but I got a nice pork ribs plate instead. And the other day for lunch in centreville I got a beef roast/stew thing that was delicious. They know their meat… and their innards, apparently.
- The only thing that outnumbers the pizza places here are the lingerie stores, and the best one we’ve found so far is Macadam (for pizza, not lingerie). At lunchtime, the pizzas are half price and you can taste the fresh toppings and the crust lives up to being a French bread product. Plus, pizza=cheese so I’m happy.
- For some reason I’ve been oddly slow at trying pastries, but I’ve hit the basics: pain au chocolat (like a square croissant with chocolate down the middle), apple tart, and a crazy-difficult-to-eat crepe filled with bananas and Nutella. Three-for-three yummy.
As far as my own forays into French food, I’ve enjoyed being a semi-regular customer at the nearby bakery (where there’s like 6 kinds of baguettes) and have hit up the markets downtown and the one by my school. Every Tuesday during my numerous class breaks (I swear, these children only go four days a week and get two ½ hour recesses and a two-hour lunch break), I can go to the market and stock up. It's a really interesting one too, very multicultural because of the neighborhood and selling food, clothes, bolts of materials, all kinds of things. My first time I bought some tomatoes ( not that bad, they didn't have the supermarket taste for sure, but didn't have much other taste either, definitely not as good as Louisiana) and… artichokes!
A total impulse buy, they were huge and cheap. It wasn't until after I bought he artichokes that I realized I didn't really know how to cook them, or might not have a pot large enough. But I’ve cooked them twice in a little soup pot filled halfway with water with a plate weighted down by a book on top. And have I told you about the greatness of French mayonnaise? Perfect artichoke dip.
If you need some more visuals, please consult the photo album entirely devoted to food. Bon Appétit!
*The “andouille affair” refers to an unfortunate galette incident where I mistook (and led poor Christine with me) the French andouille of pork colon for the delicious, and typically internal organ-free, andouille sausage of South Louisiana. Same name, very different experience, though the etymology of the Cajun word makes sense...