Terra: Bon Appétit – France
What comes to mind when you think of France? It’s the history, perhaps? Or is it the language? Maybe you think of the culture. Personally, I think of a very specific part of French culture that is dear to both my heart and stomach. You guessed it – food.
Let’s begin by discussing the croissant- a light doughy, flaky French treat. Croissant is the French word for crescent, which explains the shape of this delicious pastry. I wasn’t introduced to croissants for the first time when I traveled to France, and it’s not hard to guess why. Of course other cultures would adopt a food this good! However, the lack in popularity of Pain au chocolat in United States puzzles me. Pain au chocolat is much like a croissant, except that the dough is given a flatter shape, and the middle is filled with rich chocolate. Nearly every eatery I went to in Paris, this seemed to be available at.
Next to talk about is foie gras. This rich, creamy, and crumbly food is made from a fattened duck or goose liver. When I first tried foie Gras, I was at diner-like restaurant in a small town in Normandie. Nearly everyone else in my group had ordered oysters, a specialty in that region. I, however, was especially happy with my choice.
Luckily, that wasn’t the last chance I was given to try seafood in France. While staying in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie on the Atlantic with my French host family, I tasted the local specialty- sardines!
If I told you about the best thing I’ve eaten in France, you might be surprised. In fact, most wouldn’t think of this food as being “French” at all. When I was in Nice, a city on the Mediterranean, and only a few hours from Italy, I was able to visit a wonderful market where everything from flowers to pastries to magazines were being sold. From the market, I purchased some fresh made pizza, and then, sat down to enjoy it in the warm southern sun. The tastes of fresh dough, sauce, and sausage resonate with me still.
Now, let’s get back to talking about dessert. Two of the most famous (and my most favorite) French desserts are mousse au chocolat, or “chocolate mousse” in English, and crème brûlée. I was fortunate enough to try each of these delicacies on my first trip. If you live in the United States, you may very well have tasted either of these, since they have both become respectably popular. Among mousse au chocolat‘s ingredients are cocoa, sugar (of course), eggs, and heavy cream. The result is a light and fluffy, yet smooth and rich dessert that can be dolloped into a bowl for enjoying after a hearty dinner. Crème brûlée is a dessert with a creamy custard base and a caramel shell that is prepared using a small torch. When I tried this, I was at a little café located by Notre Dame. Ordering this was the first time I tried ordering anything in French! To be honest, my French teacher, who was sitting across from me, had to help me out and I could tell that I was barely understood. However, there’s a first time for everything. I know that if I never had the courage to take those first few steps, my progression in speaking French would not have come as easily.
Food is first thing that comes to mind when I think of France, because it is dear to both my heart and my stomach. French food can not only taste wonderful, but it can bring back some of the wonderful memories one has from visiting the country.
Marcella Del Plato