Aero: Emma (Reno) Bondi – France 2015 – Food and Dining


Aero: Emma (Reno) Bondi – France 2015 – Food and Dining
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Aero: Emma (Reno) Bondi – France 2015 – Food and Dining


Reno Bondi

The type of food one encountered at mealtimes all depended on the meal, except for bread. Bread is accessible at all times during the day; it is the staple of the French diet (that and wine, arguably). Breakfast was grain paradise. Bread, bread, and more bread. Though my host student mentioned making eggs when she had the time (and effort), but I never saw the aforementioned eggs. Lunch and dinner usually had similar themes. A variety of meats, seafood, pâte, salads, soups, and so on. If your American palette so desired, it was fairly easy to stick to tried and true meals you’d know you liked. I did have a few instances where I did step out of my carefully chalked box. The first being escargot. Now if you’ve ever existed, you’d be familiar with the cliche that French people eat snails. While that is true, it’s not as prevalent as one may think. And to be honest, they aren’t bad. The seasoning was especially tasty, and the texture and consistency was around that of meat fat. The second instance occurred during our “farewell” dinner with our host students. All of us got together for a last meal, and we had a wonderful time. My friend and I were debating what to get, and I finally settled on Noix de Saint Jacques. As described by one of the French students, it was similar to mussels. Now, I like mussels, but on my last occasion with them (a meal of moules-frites in Paris), I liked them less. I figured whatever it was I was getting, I could muscle through it (that was a poorly placed pun, and subsequent alliteration). It turns out NSJ means scallops, in which I entirely lucked out, because I love scallops. Taking a chance certainly pays off.

While I didn’t spend much time in the kitchen (I was being a recluse instead, such is my nature), the kitchen was a dynamite piece of interior design. But then again, so was the entire house. I digress. I didn’t witness much cooking as it was happening, but the results lead the consumer (which would be me) to believe that whatever was happening was good.

While in Paris and on weekends with the family, breakfast was usually anywhere from eight to nine am. Lunch around the hours of twelve to one pm. Dinner at the earliest seven, latest nine. These are just the start times. The later day meals would typically run about two hours.

My host mom did most of the cooking. On the rare occasion she wouldn’t be home till later, host dad stepped in and took care of feeding us kids. Everyone took turns setting the table, and similarly happened in clean up.

Going out to eat every night in Paris is a rich man’s dream. And from experience, it is the sweetest dream I’ve had the pleasure of dreaming. Everywhere I ate, the food was delicious. I cannot honestly say that for all the American restaurants I have dined at. Not only was the food unbelievably good, the prices were actually reasonable. At one of my now favorite places, Le Vieux Bistrot, I could get an appetizer, main course, and dessert for eleven and a half euros. The portions were moderate but filling. I walked back to the hotel feeling like a balloon nearly every night, a very happy balloon.


ML@FLCC France 2015 Flickr Photo Gallery

Even at the food stalls and small cafes frequented for snacks or a quick lunch, I never felt that I was eating bad food. You know, like McDonalds or Taco Bell, a decision later regretted by both you, your stomach, and your digestive tract (and they don’t forget easily either). Every crêpe or galette I ordered was made right in front of me, batter poured onto the skillet, fried and filled with delicious cheese, fruit, or Nutella. I felt way better about spending four euros on that then say four dollars on a Crunch Wrap Supreme (to whom I owe many a tasty memory).

When it comes to straight up wait service, I prefer the French method to the American. The French philosophy goes something like this, “I’m eating so leave me alone”. In America it’s more, “I’m eating so make sure my every will and desire is filled”. American customers have become needy, wanting desperately to be asked how they are and if everything is okay. This attention is validation they find normal and necessary. French wait staff operate along the lines of, “Call me if you need me, so don’t need me”. Waiters leave you to enjoy your meal. They know that if you have anything wrong, you’ll make a point to notify them. Other than that, everything is fine otherwise.

Emma (Reno) Bondi
LEAF Contributor