“How do you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the sound of the crust. Listen, oh symphony of crackle. Only great bread sound this way. The only way to get the best produce is to have first pick of the day, and there are only two way to get first pick. Grow it yourself, or bribe a grower. Voilà! The best restaurant get first pick. People think haute cuisine is snooty. So chef must also be snooty. But no so…” -Colette
See, I had to make this about food, somehow. But there’s more to this than the quote and pretty pictures. I aspire to go back to France. There’s so many things that I did not experience because of the overly tourist-y way I was there. Sure, while there, I got to cook at a Culinary school with my fellow trip-goers, and I remember it brilliantly, but that was a “culture activity”. Or, the dishes we ate, they weren’t overtly French. One night we ate at this fancy-pants restaurant and were served Soupe a l’ongion (Onion Soup) and this absolutely brilliant beef dish. It was braised beef tips with an incredible wine sauce and frites (fries). The server was a snooty jerk. What more French culture could a girl want? I got most of it that day according to American ideas of France.
Yet, I didn’t. I want to go back and sit outside a cafe in the morning, watching people. Which, they’re unafraid to do. One night while walking to a restaurant that was blocks away from where we were staying, I observed so many people just staring over their papers, or while drinking whatever it was they were drinking. It didn’t bother me any, as I do the very same when I’m at places like Panera or Atlanta bread. I don’t mind sipping my cafe mocha and watching other people around me. To “American” standards, it’s incredibly rude to do so, yet, I find it the easiest way to muse ideas for posts like this.
Another night, while in a town outside of Paris and by the water, we had cheese with dinner. It was it’s own course, served with warm baguette (and for the adults, who still weren’t supposed to drink because ahem, it was a school trip) and wine. It’s supposed to refresh your palette before dessert, yet so many people on the trip turned their noses up at it. Culture shock. I heard it enough before leaving, but it was so true, and people were afraid to eat something that smelled odd (because yes, the cheese, one or two of them out of the many, were rather pungent). I had the Camembert, best described as pungent and great on bread. It’s got a… funky texture that makes it spreadable.
I don’t want to go back for the Tourist-y aspects. The Eiffel was great, but now that I have it on my foot, permanent, I could care less if I see the Eiffel tower again. Actually, not true. One night after going to dinner, I realised I’d forgotten my camera and my teacher was adamant that no, I could not find a way back to the hotel and get it before we went up the Eiffel. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased. So, I do need to go back to the Eiffel, if only to get pictures from the top of the surrounding buildings. But preferably, I would much rather go back for the Louvre, where there was so much undiscovered by my friends and I because we managed to get lost and were rushed. I would like to wander the Latin-quartier where Notre Dame is and get to go up into the famed bell towers where Hunchback of Notre Dame takes place.I want to wander the gardens of Versailles again, this time spending the whole afternoon if I must, not having to worry about rushing back to the bus. And when I’ve had my fill of Paris? I wish to go back to Loire Valley again due to the amazing sandwich shop we happened upon while visiting Chartres.
Is it so much to ask? Perhaps. I want to live the French culture for as long as I need to experience it in full and not get chopped bits of it while running from place to place worried about being behind schedule and getting run ragged from barely any sleep. Is that too much to ask for?