When I think about my time here in France, one thing that always comes to mind is the food. I have indulged in some of the best pastries, cheeses, and wine in the world. I have also learned a lot about the culture around food, and how it differs from American food culture.
Last weekend, our fellow intern Sophie took us to her family’s country house in central France. It sits on a hill overlooking the grassy fields and the quiet medieval town. We experienced traditional French meals with Sophie’s family the entire weekend. All the food was prepared by a woman who lives nearby. All of the vegetables were fresh from her garden. We had croissants and pain au chocolat, espresso, and freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast.
Lunch was always around 1pm, and at this time we would sit down for about two hours together and enjoy our meal with multiple courses. The French take their time to eat as a group because more so than in America the meals are considered an opportunity to socialize, not just a means of satisfying hunger. First, the fruit and wine was served (Sophie thinks it’s ridiculous that I often eat fruit with my main meal). Then we ate the main course, with a bread basket in the middle of the table. The veggies and potatoes were so fresh, you could really taste the difference between them and store-bought food. I don’t normally like green beans but I couldn’t get enough of these. Once everyone finished the main course, Sophie’s mom brought out the dessert. One time it was this beautiful ice cream cake from a bakery in town. It had a layer at the bottom that was like a macaron. Then a “cake” layer of ice cream. On top there were scoops of all different flavors of ice cream, with almond cookies between them and a bunch of chocolate decorations. It was almost too beautiful to eat! With dessert we drank espresso (with a bit of sugar).
Before dinner, we had our “apéritif”, which consists of small snacks and drinks. A common drink for the apéritif is a wine called Lillet, which we mixed with champagne and grapefruit juice. The snacks are usually crackers or chips. For dinner we had a similar routine as for lunch, though lunch is the main meal for the French. Dinners in France are later than in America, usually not before 8pm.
The food in France has been so incredible, I never want to leave!