Vive la food

For the Christmas break, I visited my friend’s family in Amiens, France, which is famous for almond paste macaroons (who knew?), leek cream tarts and the largest gothic cathedral. As an Australian, getting to spend a (potentially white) Christmas in Europe is always an exciting prospect for me. Plus, Christmas is a time for family, food and traditions and I wanted to experience all of this with a real French family.

We all know that anything French is automatically more sexy and sophisticated than the rest us. What I was unprepared for, though, was the role that simple food played in their lives. It wasn’t necessarily all Michelin-star-quality food but it was just so important to them. Every gathering of friends/family was basically an excuse to prepare and consume more food. They slaved away in the kitchen for countless hours to prepare for each other and this didn’t seem to be a burden but rather just a normal way of life.

This is what I found interesting about the French (or at least with my particular group of Froggies):
– Champagne is an absolute necessity for visitors and is pretty much served with the same enthusiasm that Australian would serve iced water.
– Each family is known for a particular champagne which they order every 6 months (presumably in whole palettes, requiring a forklift) for events and dinners throughout the year. I heard a comment like, “Naomi’s champagne used to be great but they switched a few years ago and now we like Lisa’s family’s champagne better.”
– The fridge always has a big tupperware with a myriad of cheeses that religiously finds its way to the table at the end of the meal, before dessert.
– Baguettes and cheese truly are a staple at every meal. Frogs and garlic are almost never seen. Snails, sometimes.
– Butter is spread thick and used to cook everything. Fois gras is eaten in burly slices as thick as the bread slices that they accompany.
– The cheese is consumed atop bread in roughly a 3:1 ratio and people will use the smallest crumb of remaining bread as an excuse for one more huge hunk of cheese.
– People don’t mind eating before others sit down, reaching over each other and requesting things at the table because enjoying the food is more important than being extra polite.
– Nobody cheats and buys pre-made foods. It’s almost all made from scratch at home with the same natural instinct that you or I might doggy paddle. They even make their own croissants. I didn’t see any cronuts.
– Any dish that is not finished is recycled and brought back every lunch or dinner thereafter until it is finished.
– Baby Jesus doesn’t appear in the nativity until Christmas eve and the 3 wise men don’t appear until the 6th of January. We lost track of Jesus for a while and had to substitute a hand-drawn paper sketch for a few hours.
– TV advertisements all seem to use sexually alluring people to sell their products (or perhaps it’s just that I couldn’t translate so I took more notice of the French people who were naturally more sexy than regular people).
– Lingerie is not even a sexy word in France because all underwear is known as lingerie. Or maybe it’s just that French women only wear fancy underwear. It was a difficult topic to bring up and get to the bottom of tactfully.

I also had the chance to cross off a few Francey places from my bucket list including: Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides, Sacre-Coeur Basilica and Napoleon’s Colonne de la Grande Armee at Boulogne. To top off my celebration of the little emperor, I ate a napoleon. As it turns out, a napoleon is the same as a vanilla slice, so I’ve really loved Napoleon since I was a little man myself.

Flight of the Conchords in ‘Foux Du Fafa’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5hrUGFhsXo

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Comments
One Response to “Vive la food”
  1. phildange says:

    Don’t forget that food, as well as many customs, vary a lot between regions . For instance, in the southern half, garlic mixed with parsley is ubiquitous, and butter is not much found in dishes, because oil, and olive oil, are used for cooking . The different tribes that made France always remained different . It ‘s been nearly superhuman to unify and control the whole France in history.

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