En France I knew I would have a lot of first experiences, and this entry only covers the first of the first. Of course some important firsts are not noted here because a camera was not accessible, or it would have been impolite to take a photograph . I respect the ways of the French, and whole heartedly am attempting to become one.
On my first visit into the city of Paris I was lucky enough to see the Christmas market on the Champs- Elysees. Beautiful twinkle lights glow in the dark around the market, and warm aromatic booths line the streets and promise to comfort you in the chilly weather. It was at one of these booths I tried my first ever Canelle which both delighted and confused me. The outside was firm and caramelized like the texture of the outside of a doughnut. The inside was the texture of a doughy flan, and together it made the perfect sweet bite. The Canelle is a specialty of Bordeaux and is made from five simple ingredients; vanilla, sugar, milk, egg, and rum flavored flour. It is a complex pastry to make, but can be found in many bakeries throughout Paris. The Canelle (or Cannele) can be eaten as a sweet treat alone, but is traditionally eaten with a drink; cocktails or syrupy wines. Usually in France a food item is pared with a special wine so the two can play off of each other’s complex flavors. However, this is not so with the Canelle, the flavor and type of drink does not matter seeing as it goes with both tea and red wine equally as well.
A week after the first visit, I had the opportunity to venture into Paris once again where I had the first French crepe of my current stay. It was at a small cafe, and I was looking only for a meal to satisfy my belly’s moans, and not to satisfy my gourmand cravings. It was a savory buckwheat crepe with cheese, mushrooms and an egg inside. I did not find it to be at the high French-food standard, but nonetheless it filled me.
One of the best charms of France are the street side markets. There is something in the air that makes them feel different from the farmers markets at home. The produce at this time is not at its best because of the weather, but the appeal is still all there. French produce promises a world of color and elegance that while false in its taste, is ever present in the culture.
In order to immerse yourself in the culture of France it is vital to visit a boulangerie frequently. Yes, this comes with the common question “how do the French eat so much bread and stay so trim?” but that question is very complex and will be addressed in depth in another segment. Believe the cosmos when I tell you it is essential to eat frequently at the bakery not only because they are delicious and freshly made, but also because they are an inexpensive way to eat a filling breakfast. I recently was told it is not considered acceptable to buy a pastry at a bakery and then bring it into a cafe to eat it unless you are the only one in the cafe.