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French Food Review

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French Food Review

Emily Sherman, Editor

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This year over winter break, my family took a trip to Paris, France.  Basing my expectations on a prior trip to Europe, I was curious to see how the food was.  It was really good, but I found that the experience that goes along with eating the food was an accurate representation of French culture.  The experience that accompanies a meal is just as important as the meal itself.  It’s almost like in France the expectation is meal time, world off.  No one rushes through meals here; individuals enjoy the experience of eating good food and being surrounded by people that matter.  It was interesting to see the striking difference in culture where people prioritize experience.  Instead of running out of Starbucks with a drink in hand, on the phone, and running late- one might slowly enjoy a coffee with a friend and stay a little extra just because.

My family never ventured out of the hotel for breakfast, so this remained pretty consistent throughout the trip.

Some notes on breakfast:

  • French yogurt is superior to all others- the strawberry one was my favorite.  It is stored in little glass jars that allow for the enjoyment of more than just one.  The most popular flavors I saw were strawberry, apricot, banana, and plain.
  • Anything that is in pastry form is guaranteed to be amazing.  My favorite “dessert-type” breakfast items included a raspberry croissant and Madeleine cookies.  Don’t worry- if you were expecting crêpes, those come later.  On every street corner I found either a crêpe cart or roasted chestnuts.  Crêpes are more of a commodity and serve as a snack rather than part of a meal.
  • Scrambled eggs are not a thing in France.
  • If you order coffee, go with either an expresso or cappucino.  Drip-coffee is not as popular here, so it won’t taste as good.

Between breakfast and lunch, there are plenty of food stands selling crêpes, hot chocolate, and chestnuts.  Needless to say, the streets smell really good.  Any food I bought on the street also tasted really good.  I recommend the Nutella crêpe, but according to the opinions of my family, the raspberry and apricot versions provided tough competition.  Also, the French fries are amazing here.  In December, there are Christmas markets propped up around Parisian landmarks that are basically a concentrated, smaller version of Parisian streets.

I was also surprised to discover that baguettes can be found at every bakery and go for only €1.  Based on the experiences of the people who live there, people bring home fresh bread everyday to prevent the forbidden occurrence of stale bread.

Nutella crêpe with banana

Lunch mainly consisted of sandwiches and salads.  Parisian cafés are usually bustling with people, and many people choose to sit back, relax, and forget about the time.  I found there to be a certain vibe to these enclosed spaces where the world suddenly slows down.  I noticed that people here really know how to enjoy life- which provided a questionable contradiction to the in-and-out speedy culture of American coffeehouses.

Veggie burger with salad

If you pride yourself with dessert, I recommend going to Angelina’s tea house.  They take hot chocolate seriously. Compared to the milky version that’s common in the United States, this hot chocolate has a higher viscosity- focusing more on the chocolate part than diluting it with other liquids.  Since it’s more concentrated, the portion is smaller and it is served in a tiny cup.  I won’t say that I prefer it over the American version with milk and marshmallows, but it was really good.

Angelina’s Hot Chocolate (credit to Pinterest)

When we visited Montmartre, a hilltop district once inhabited by former artists like Picasso and Dalí, my family walked into a macaron shop unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  There were basic flavors, like chocolate, vanilla, and hazelnut, but there were also unusual flavors like lavender, cherry & chili, and pineapple.  It’s amazing how talented pastry chefs are to be able to make a lavender cookie taste like dessert.  Montmartre was also my favorite place I visited in Paris.  There are these long, winding streets that light up at night, and the homes of world-class artists reside on virtually every street corner.

Macarons

More dessert…

Tarts

Visiting France was a really cool experience that allowed me to immerse myself in a new culture through something as versatile as food.
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