While I’ve talked a little bit about food in previous posts, food is such an important and fun subject that I decided to devote an entire post to it! In general, it’s hard to go wrong when choosing what to eat in France, especially after eating dining hall food for the past two and a half years. During the week, I eat breakfast and dinner with my host family. Breakfast is not all that different than in the U.S. I usually eat either toast or oatmeal, but always with a mug of black coffee. For lunch, I either bring leftovers from home, grab a sandwich from a viennoiserie, or buy semi-prepared food at the grocery store. For the remainder of this post, I am going to talk about some new foods I’ve discovered this semester that have become part of my diet. I will also talk about previously unknown food I have only tried once or twice, but that left a lasting taste on my tongue and mind – for better or for worse. Before I dive in, I should explain a few of the terms I mention so as not to confuse you, the heroic reader. A viennoiserie is a bakery that produces yeast-leavened dough products such as croissants. A pâtisserie produces pastries such as éclairs and cakes. A boulangerie makes all different kinds of bread: baguette, brioche, etc. Frequently bakeries are a combination of the three. Got it? Good, now let’s talk about the more interesting stuff!
I could probably eat nothing but kababs for the rest of my life and die with no regrets. For those unfamiliar, a kebab is a pita-bread sandwich made with lamb’s meat and served with sauce. The sauce can be as simple as ketchup or mayo, but my favorite is by far Algerian. It has a nice little kick in terms of spiciness, but doesn’t overwhelm the greasy flavor of the meat. Since discovering this scrumptious sandwich at the beginning of the semester, I have been eating at least one a week. I like to eat it on weekends at the end of the night, and always with fries. It’s a cheap, greasy food, but one that hasn’t really taken hold in the U.S., so I’m going to savor it while I can.
Both specialties of Brittany, these thin-pancakes dishes are a staple in the region. Galettes are made from buckwheat flower and served with an egg, cheese and/or ham. Crêpes are made out of wheat flower and can be served with a wide variety of toppings. My favorite kind is with chocolate and a chopped banana, but I frequently also opt for a drizzling of melted butter with sugar.
Chicken Curry Sandwich
I had eaten chicken curry before coming to France, but never in the form of a sandwich. Being a big fan of both curry and sandwiches, I was pretty excited when I learned that I could combine the two into one immensely satisfying meal. When I buy lunch from a viennoserie or a boulangerie, this is my go-to sandwich.
A specialty of Britanny, I first learned about this heavenly cake while researching Dominique Ansel – the genius pastry chef who invented the cronut – for my gastronomy course. I eagerly purchased my first one from a pâtisserie at Talensac, Nantes’ only covered market. The Kougin-Amann is made a bit like a croissant in the sense that the inside contains dozens of thin, flaky layers. However, the outside is covered with sweet, sticky, caramelized sugar. The size of the cake can be small like in the photo below or large enough to split between many people.
Croissant aux amandes
An almond croissant is made like a regular croissant, but filled with heavenly almond paste and covered in slivered almonds. The paste is potentially the most delicious pastry topping I have ever consumed. It’s sweet, creamy and thick, but not overwhelmingly so. When eaten with the flaky dough and slivered almonds, an equilibrium in texture is reached. The croissant aux amandes is by far my favorite pastry at the viennoiserie, and I don’t buy it often so that I can fully savor it each time I do.
There a plenty of other dishes and treats I've discovered this semester, but the ones above are the most notable. I will miss all of them when I go back to the U.S.!
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<p>Bonjour! My name is Keanan Gleason, I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but currently live in Iowa where I am a third year student at Grinnell College. I am double-majoring in Economics and French, and this spring I will be studying abroad in Nantes, France! I hope to get to know my temporary home by going on lots of runs, eating at various restaurants, and exploring with friends.</p>