7 Things you are sure to miss once you leave France
I remember when I was a student studying in France. I was aware of what I would be missing once I returned stateside. My year abroad was not a year of indulgences by any means. But there are so many you become accustomed to in such a short time living in France and not having them when you get home can actually bring you to tears
I recall getting a random baggage check at the airport on one trip back from France. I had my bags opened even before the check-in desk – does that happen? The security personnel kept looking at my bag, then me, then my bag again. I had me feeling as if I was in that episode of I Love Lucy, where Lucy pretends that a hunk of gouda cheese was a baby to not have to, may customs. Luckily she zipped the bag back up and let me go. Well, we all know those days are over now. Today pâté is a liquid – yes, pâté. And for some countries, those days have never existed.
But I am not trying to be a party popper. If you are like me, you may still brave the consequences (depending entirely to what country you are returning). You’ll pack your suitcases with care to prolong that love affair with France – even if it will only be for one more meal.
So here is my list of things you will miss when you leave France. See if you agree with me or not. And don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be back in France to enjoy them again one day.
I don’t know what it is about French butter, (well actually I do), but the stuff can be addictive. Once you’ve tried it, it is so hard to go back. I’m not suggesting no one else knows how to make butter but you have to try it to understand what I mean. And I don’t mean ordinary grocery store butter even if some store-bought butter is still better than others I have had. And the French are crazy about butter. Need proof? Read this description of my favourite, “beurre échiré” doux or demi-sel (sweet or half salted). “Ce beurre très délicat avec son petit goût de noisette, exprime un savoir-faire unique, propre à la laiterie d’Échiré.” Translation: This very delicate butter with its slight taste of hazelnut, reflects the unique savoir-faire specific to the dairy industry of Echiré. Echiré is in the Poitou-Charente.
“A Meal without cheese is like a day without sunshine – Brillat Savarin. Smart man. So smart they named a cheese after him.
Unpasteurized cheese. Never had it? Then you have no idea what you are missing then. But if you have, you know what I mean. Come on, admit it, it is to die for, isn’t it? Some claim it has addictive properties of its own. So if you are a certified cheese addict, why remove taste and uniqueness from your cheese when you don’t have to? With over 350 varieties of cheese in France (some pasteurized), you could try a new cheese every day. Keep track of them, like I do, in some of those nifty cheese apps out there. I personally use Fromage and write notes in it when I encounter a cheese I love – particularly useful when you are sitting in on a Cheese & Wine Pairing class and are presented with all that goodness
Well, what were you going to eat all that French cheese with? Crunchy, crispy, freshly-made baguettes. Is your mouth watering yet? Yes, I know you can get French baguettes outside of France but I hardly think you will find it at under 2 euros. A recent trip to New York had me in shock when I saw French baguettes on sale for $2.99 + tax – for a baguette? No way! I chuckled and checked my calendar to remind myself when I would be back in France again. A, “Thank God I live in France moment”.
Better yet, I heard about a baguette vending machine installed somewhere in San Francisco where the baguette costs you $4.99. Now granted the length of the baguette is greater than most we get here but $4.99? Ouch! Another reason my stomach is happy in France – sorry. And please don’t ask for a baguette. Ask for a “baguette tradition” or say “tradition” or “tradi” and they’ll think you’ve gone native.
Thank goodness you can learn how to make baguettes in Paris before heading home. What better way to make the memories last.
When I went to New York on a recent trip with my son, we went packed with a few provisions to share with friends and family. Of course, this included butter (two kinds), cheese (several), and three delicious dried sausages. What’s a picnic without saucisson sec? Not a French picnic at any rate. I treated my fellow picnickers to saucisson de taureau (bull), d’âne (donkey) & sanglier (wild boar). Needless to say, they were very happy to see me, or was it all about my stash . . .
Not as hard to come by outside of France, but I imagine that prices are a bit exaggerated when you leave the hexagon. Herbes de Provence, Fleur de Sel & Piment d’Espelette are all things we sell at the schools’ boutiques. They are always a great addition to your recipe recreations or make a lovely gift for a fellow foodie.
Breakfast pastries or French patisseries of any kind for that matter
I’m not only talking about croissants though. I am talking le Suisse, pain aux raisins and all those luscious viennoiseries that you find in any proper boulangerie/patisserie in France. Buying a mediocre croissant & pain au chocolat for my son in Brooklyn for a whopping $7 curbed that craving. Better learn to make it yourself at those prices. Let’s not forget about the macarons or the choux pastries and eclairs . . . The list goes on.
How could I not cover French wine? Fact: The French are snobs about their wine. Fact: French wine is old! Dating back as far as the 6th century BC. They once said that wine was cheaper than water. You can find yourself a pretty decent bottle of wine for 10 euros. 10 euros! Can you imagine? Some less than that aren’t that bad either. I am not a wine guru. I will enjoy wine when others have ordered it, to be honest, but I have taken a liken to not paying through the nose for a good glass or bottle. Learn all about food & wine pairing with a chef and sommelier in Provence.
So now that I’ve gone through my list of things I would miss when not in France, what do you miss or would you miss? You can always make the memories last a bit longer by taking part in a French cooking class while in France. Maybe you can even recreate some of what you’d miss.
Take your love of France one step further with a French cooking holiday in Provence? Join chef Eric in Uzès for a number of class offerings include, including cheese & wine tasting, bread-making workshops, week-long culinary holiday programs, and half-day classes on French cuisine, dough making, and more.