Hi from here
This is the view from my room here in Paris. I took this photo on the Sunday afternoon I arrived here, when I was jetlagged, happy, overwhelmed, and in a post-anxiety-ridden shock caused by the realization that I had indeed been received by what I know to be the nicest family in France.
Things have, since then, settled down, but obviously not enough so for me to not slip in an update here on this blog for the past 5 weeks. If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t allowed even my mom and dad to fare much better; my kind payment to them after all their help in preparing me for France has been the random four sentence email or photo sent from my phone about once or twice a week.
And so here we are, with tomorrow marking the day that I’ll have been in France for exactly one month. I hardly know where to start in deciding what to share or in what order to share it.
But maybe I’ll start with some brief and most likely biased observations on the food here, just because it’s something that’s been making me really happy and, you know, this is a food-related blog after all. Hopefully everything else will start seeping out somewhat naturally over the next few posts.
I don’t think I’m with a particularly foodie family here in Paris, seeing as the parents both work a lot and neither particularly enjoy planning and preparing meals. And yet, lunch and dinner lasts for a good hour or so and they often spend their meals talking about the way they like to eat tomatoes, or how good the featured tart is, or what restaurant they will go out to the following night. It seems to be that in France food and meals are central to one’s life, no matter what type of life that person leads. It is the universal theme that gathers people together and directs the movement of their days.
Breakfast starts with slices of baguette or brioche slathered with (to my relative terms) a lot of butter and either honey or some confitures of some sort. It’s all really good stuff—fig jam, chunky apricot preserves and the like. This gets eaten alongside a bowl of coffee or tea, with the bread getting dipped in to the hot liquid. Then déjeuner arrives, about 5 hours later, and then dinner, maybe 6 or 7 hours after that. Things are often served in courses: first comes some starters, like big slices of melon with charcuterie or mixed vegetables in a vinaigrette. Everything is served alongside slices of baguette (oh, the bread here! I could go on about it for a long time. But I’ll save that for later). Next comes the bigger stuff: sometimes heavy things like steak and frites, pan-seared pork chops, or cold chicken with mayonnaise, but also lighter things (usually on the hotter days) like big, cold mixed salads with little potatoes, green beans, and tuna. Then comes the after-dinner things—a round of cheese, if people are still hungry enough, a round of yogurt and fresh fruit like apricots, peaches, grapes and plums; and sometimes, but not always, a round of dessert like ice cream or a shared pâtisserie or gâteau follows. I’m always full and extremely content when I finish a meal and am deliciously hungry by the time the next one comes around. It’s really nice.
Oh right, and then there’s the whole lovely aperitif culture, which I am slightly bitter that I have missed out on in my life up until this point. While I end up ordering a Perrier or an orangina along with the 4- and 5-year-olds because I am so embarrassingly illiterate with mixed drinks, the adults are all sorts of nice, sophisticated looking things. It seems that French kids are groomed with the manners and knowledge of this sort just from constantly being brought to a lot of the cafes and restaurants that their parents go to. Little do they know how lucky they have it. I think I’ll have to do a post dedicated to this topic sometime in the future when I’m a little better accustomed to it.
Anyway, not a day goes by that I don’t eat butter, cream, and cheese. And, lest you think my newfound lifestyle has some nasty compromises to it like say getting fat, I’ll just say that since arriving in France I haven’t gained any weight and have instead lost a few pounds, if anything. So there!
I’ll be back soon (real soon this time, promise!) with a couple more posts with my ever-striving-to-be-brief reflections of les vacances in the French Riviera, Corsica, and Noirmoutier. Not quite sure yet how I’ll break it up, if I do. If you’re not quite into these diary posts of mine (ugh hate the word diary but I guess this whole blog is a diary of sorts so no avoiding it), I will be back with some food… sometime. Ha. For now, let me gratefully appease my parents by sending out some words and photos of my life as of lately.
The night I arrived in Paris was also the night that celebrated the finale of the 100th Tour de France at the Arc de Triomphe. Nice timing, right? Anyway, even in my bleary state, getting to see the speed-mob that was the cyclists zoom by with everyone so happily, excitedly cheering was pretty special. Also, the military jets that flew overhead spurting red, white and blue in their tails was pretty amazing. Afterwards they had this digital presentation thing on the Arc—supposedly breaking from what used to be a fireworks show in the past. Kind of weird, but eh, it’s the Arc of Triomphe. I’ll take it.