While French cuisine is famous (so famous it was recognized by UNESCO as such), not everyone living in France gets to eat like Louis XIV everyday. In fact, most of my friends here don’t really know how to cook, since they, like me, have grown up with two working parents and a microwave. I’m a bit lucky because I spent five years working in Ottawa restaurants before I finished university, and therefore I know a little: how to use a knife, de-glazing a pan, seasoning, etc. When I first visited my girlfriend here, I was surprised at how most of her friends ate ready-made meals. For example, at a New Year’s Eve dinner party, we were served overdone duck breast and tater tots (delicious, but not what I expected). In fact, it was difficult to find a restaurant that served home-made french fries and fresh vegetables. At one beautiful place in the Loire valley, I could tell that my “frites et légumes maison” weren’t actually made in house, but more likely made by McCain frozen foods.
They love their yogurt over here. In the supermarket, there are two whole aisles of yogurts and puddings, in little 125g portions. In Canada, those are only for children who take their lunches to school, but here everybody buys them out of convenience. I couldn’t even find a one-litre tub, like those I bought in Canada to save money (and
to give myself a bigger portion). Frozen pizzas are even more popular here, and come in even more flavours: some have crème fraiche on top, or Chorizo sausage. I was spoiled in Canada by all the fresh vegetables in the supermarket. The broccoli here is terrible, and they don’t even have green onions. Most people here go to a “primeur” which specializes in fruits and vegetables but even then there’s no guarantee. This summer most of the strawberries were white inside and flavourless, and went bad very quickly, since they probably came from Morocco or Spain. It made me appreciate all the wonderful stuff I got from Foodland Ontario.
That being said, living in France gives me the opportunity to taste the best bread in the world. Having good baguette every day is really something I’ve gotten used to. Also, people in France really love their cheese. Comparing the cheese section in Loblaws to one here is like night and day. There are SO MANY different types of good, local, fresh cheeses that it boggles the mind. When inviting friends over, it is customary to put out some good cheese, to go with some wine for the “apéro”. This wins me over every time, even if the main course comes out of the freezer, or from a can.