Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bonne Cuisine with the Host Family

Sunday, November 22, 2009
I guess it's a little bizarre that I've now spent 3 months in France, and I've only written a single entry about the wonderful meals I eat with my host family. And I was too worried about manners in the first one, anyway!

Gone are the days when I worry about taking too much food or taking too long to eat. I keep my hands on the table throughout the meal. I use my designated piece of baguette to scoop my salad onto the fork and mop up leftover sauce. And I eat fruit after every meal.

I haven't had a bad meal yet. Even though my host mom is a high school teacher and often returns home with little time to make dinner, she always manages to cook up something wonderful. "Complètes" (crêpes with ham, cheese, and an egg) are often a "quick meal," and we only eat pre-frozen food on rare occasions.

Weekend lunches are always guaranteed to be good. Yesterday we had raclettes, which are baked potatoes (sans skin) with thinly sliced meats and then melted cheese poured on top of them.

But this afternoon was probably the best yet - 2 hours later, I'm still stuffed. For an entrée, I finally had the chance to eat escargot - yup, SNAILS! My host mom told me to forget the fact that they're snails, but I was too busy analyzing the unique taste and texture in my mouth: rather chewy and loaded with butter and garlic. The hardest part was pulling them out of the little shells with the tiniest metal pick. But after eating the plate of 12, I was a pro.

And that was only the beginning. Our main course was a pasta with a bounty of of seafood - oysters, clams, and shrimp. Unfortunately for us, my host mother over-calculated the amount to make, and so even with extra-large servings there was plenty leftover. I'm not sure how we managed to eat the brownies she baked this morning, because after all that rich food we were all sitting at the table in silence until my host brother stood up and announced he was going to take a long nap.

Hopefully 3 days is enough to recuperate before our big Thanksgiving feast on Thursday evening. All the IES students, professors, staff, and host family members will celebrate together at a rather fancy restaurant. Stay tuned for more bonne cuisine!


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