Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fancy French Food and Faux pas du jour

Because I'm not a foodie, I failed to take my own pictures of the food we ate. So, all of these photos have been hijacked from other food sources, found by the way of Google images. I hope you, my readers, will visit the Food network and other great sites if you want real food information.

So, I decided to only report on the foods that I found distinctly different than what we, in the U.S., have as a regular cuisine.

So, there's FOIS GRAS pronounced like (fwa-graw). It is the round thing on the plate below. Fois gras is a liver pate' made from goose liver. They can shape it in a tube and serve little slices of it. It's smooth tasting and fairly good. I would spread it on the little toasts or bread. Ours was served as an appetizer.

Margarite de canard: breast of duck in English. One night, we went out for dinner, and Will made me try duck. The taste is quite good, even though it was served medium rare. I didn't worry about this too much at the time. Almost all of our meals were served with fried potatoes.
The potatoes were fried in something that did not sit well with me... rendered duck fat? Either way, I'm not fond of fried foods, so this meal was a lot of rich food. We found ourselves watching the U.S. Open in the middle of the night, fighting off naseau. But it passed quickly without much fanfare, so I'm guessing our little American bodies that live on beans and rice had had just enough rich food to explode.

A beef filet: This, of course, is not so unusual for us, except that we rarely indulge in red meat--except moose! So, I enjoyed it. One difference is the ordering. We always ordered "medium well"--thinking a little pink, and then it would come looking like this:
So, even though I said earlier that I'm not a fan of wine, I found that it really helped getting all of the raw meats down. I think I was quite adventurous in the meat department, but now I'm wondering if I'm swimming with parasites? So far, no symptoms... (sorry to be a paranoid wreck in front of the whole world!)

Cheese course: After the main course, there was a cheese platter. All through out the meal, you could get that good, crusty French bread. I do not recall the names of all of the cheeses. In a general sense, you could categorize the cheeses as "strong and stinky". I mean that in the best possible way. (The food editors are flocking to me at this very hour for my delicate food vocabulary...)
Another thing that alluded me was the fromage blanc. In all honesty, I could get used to this product. It had a great texture and reminded me of yogurt. As you can see from the photo below, they make it in Vermont. Has anyone ever seen this in grocery stores in the states?
And of course, the final (and best) course is the dessert course. And I'm not one that eats desserts every day at home. Generally, I'll just have a piece of dark chocolate with a cup of tea and call it good. But in France, we tried to get something different each time. We ordered: tiramisu, profiteroles, chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, eclairs, etc. at various times. As with everything we ate, we split the entire meal.

Thankfully, Will is not a big eater, and I was not particularly starving most of the time, so it worked well for us. The restaurants were nice enough to let us split our meals and even served them on separate plates, usually without a splitting fee! (yeah!)

So, during one meal in a fairly nice restaurant, I happened to do the unthinkable. Are you ready for this? I ordered a cup of tea after the main course, before the cheese! I know. I know. What havoc! It just is not done here. If you order tea or coffee, you are saying that you are finished with the meal. I was just saying, "O.K. I survived the raw salmon appetizer and the raw beef; now I need a cup of tea in order to proceed.." So, we finally cleared up the confusion and got the rest of the meal. Oh, I'm such an embarrassment to my country...

During another meal, we had vegetarian pizza. I thought it was lovely. The pizza parlor was sort of a pub style of restaurant with the little tables close together. When we sat down to eat, they separated our table from the one next to us by about.. four inches. I was kind of surprised to find that they placed another couple right in with us. Since we were so snuggled in there, we got to know this lovely couple from the U.K. and enjoyed a great meal with English (the queen's English, no less) conversation. Delightful!

On another dining occasion, we met a neat couple from the states and joined our tables together and shared our various experiences.

Speaking of meeting people, you know me.. I can't go anywhere without meeting people. We were inside of a castle (I'm going to give the full castle report in the next post, so don't get upset that I'm not giving you the pictures yet), and anyway.. we were inside this castle, and I was looking at the paintings on the wall and I made a goofy comment about this picture of a woman who was so broad in the shoulders that I said, "I think she could bench press 200" loud enough for this one English guy to overhear.

He instantly attached himself to us, even though he was traveling with his wife and another couple. I could tell by his comments that he "needed some fresh air" from his traveling party and was willing to tour the castle with us rather than endure five more minutes with the entourage. So, we had fun entertaining this guy and let him take pictures of us all around the castle. (generous, huh?) So, you'll be seeing some of those in a few. We had a great symbiotic relationship for a little space of time. His last words to us were: Now you MUST visit the castle in ... ? (somewhere about an hour from London) Like we're professional castle chasers or something! Either way, it was a fun time.

So, that's my food in France. Yes, it is great food, but I must admit, I love my own cooking just fine. I like my fruits and vegetables in abundance. I like beans (which I didn't even see one bean) and rice (no rice either). I think I've had enough cheese for the month. And I like whole grains in bread. But it's always so good to take risks and try new things, and I think we conquered that goal just fine.


sara said...

This was so much fun to read. If I weren't lying down nursing the baby I'd give a fuller comment but for now just know that I am loving your writing.

Becky said...

I like my meat medium rare, but now that I've seen your post I'll know not to order like that if I ever get the chane to go to France. I can't imagine how it would turn out! You did much better with the stinky cheese that I would have.

Mrs. Parunak said...

What a fun report! You've been blogging up a storm. My kids have been sick, and I haven't had much computer time. Now I'm sitting down to catch up.

Rébecca said...

I don't mean to make fun of you, but I thought calling "Magret de Canard" Margerite (name of a flower) was just too cute ! Also, Foie Gras is spelt with a e at the end. The word pronounced "faw" can be spelt a lot of different ways and mean different things : fois (as in "une fois") means "one time", foie is liver, Foix is a city, and foi is faith. So you always have to be careful how you end that word because it might mean something totally different ! There is a little children's rhym that goes like this :
"Il était une fois,
Une marchande de foie,
Qui vendait du foie,
Dans la ville de Foix...
Elle se dit ma foi,
C'est la première fois
Et la dernière fois,
Que je vends du foie,
Dans la ville de Foix"