Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Food and Dining
Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Food and Dining
Two given staples on all dining tables were carafes of water and endless bread. The French are definitely not shy of their cheese and butter either. I will say that the food was fantastic. It simply could have been the aura of being in France why the food was so good, or that it really was. I think it was a little bit of both. Three meals a day is standard, and it took awhile to get through each one. When it is time to eat, it is time to eat. It is an endless stream of food. Which usually ends with different cheeses as the dessert course.
Each morning, breakfast consisted of coffee, croissants or crepes, an oat cereal and a sweeter breakfast item. The day was started early enough to sit and enjoy the meal. There very seldom were items that were eaten in transport aside from a baguette. Coffee was to be consumed at home or in a café. I did not see travel mugs. The French take their food very seriously and make it known. Eating is almost an art form to them. Many hours of each day are devoted to eating. The portion size is small in comparison though. We, as a society, are continually influenced through the media. Bigger is better. We even have television shows dedicated to the biggest meals in all of America. The one glaring difference is that although it takes a long time to get through a meal in France, the quantity of food consumed is far less.
Savory crepes or galettes were commonly eaten at all points throughout the day. Butter was the favorite item to use when cooking. Everything was cooked in butter. The butter was delicious too, as it was made with sea salt. We are taught that butter and carbohydrates like bread are bad for you. Has anyone seen the size of most French people? What I did notice which makes a world of difference is the fact that most people buy fresh ingredients. There was a supermarket across the street from the flat, where I stayed in Rennes. Professor Rosmade would purchase his produce from vendors at the market. Most of these items looked like they were harvested that morning. Aside from purchasing fresh fish, all meals were prepared at home. The convenience items and quantity of processed foods was extremely low. There has to be something said for cooking fresh local ingredients and limiting processed items from our diet.
I often tried to assist in preparing meals while in Rennes. I was told every time that I was not to help, and simply sit and relax. He would take care of it. It was uncommon as a chef, to be told not to assist in the kitchen. It is their culture. When you are a guest in their house, you are a guest, and you are not there to work. It was rather nice having someone cook for me for a change. I was very appreciative and the food was delicious.
The price of wine was very affordable, whether we were in restaurant or in a supermarket. The supermarkets in France could sell: beer, wine and liquor. This caught me off guard. I am used to being able to only purchase beer in a supermarket. It was more affordable to purchase a bottle of wine as compared to a bottle of soda, or pop depending on where you are from. This could be another reason most French people are lean. It was extremely rare that I saw anyone consuming soda. As I ventured around town a few days, this town had many, many bars. Most of the morning’s people would like the tables with a nice glass of Chardonnay or Riesling to go alongside their croissant. Of course there were some random people drinking beer at that hour. Also, it was very common for people to occupy the tables at bars/restaurants all day long. The majority of their tables were outside as the actual storefronts were small. There could be dozens and dozens of tables associated with one establishment. This was the case in Rennes. In Paris, there was outdoor seating for most restaurants/cafes. The one thing that I did notice was that all of the chairs face forward. Parisians like to people watch. You were the center of attention when you walked by any restaurant. I am sure that it was immediately apparent that I was American. Most of the restaurants had little heaters that were suspended above the outdoor seating. I really enjoyed these. The server would immediately come over and light it as soon as you sat down. They generated some serious warmth too. Nice and toasty while enjoying a café and journal writing.
Every morning, the city crews would come around and take care of the trash and sweep the sidewalks and gutters. They were continually sweeping cigarette butts off the ground, as smoking is almost the national sport. The city was very clean, and did not smell like a city whatsoever. There was traffic for sure, but nowhere near what one of our cities is like. Most people used public transportation. I did not see in all of France, a pickup truck. This must be truly American. Most of the vehicles were small, sub compact small. The transmissions were all manual. I was surprised, even on the van we took while traveling around was standard. Manual transmissions are better on gas, and gas was expensive, and sold by the liter.
After traveling for a few days, you could reach anywhere you wanted to go if you could read a metro map. Paris was busy in comparison to Rennes, even though it seemed as if there were more automobiles in Rennes. It’s the different culture that seemed to slow things down. We as Americans go too fast all of the time and do not take time to enjoy things, which is a problem.