I’m a firm believer that food is sacred.
Nothing can quite unite people like sitting around a table and sharing some food. Food mends broken hearts (blame freshly-dumped girls eating ice cream in movies for that hackneyed phrase) , breaks the ice and improves one’s mood.
One thing about studying abroad is that sooner or later you’ll miss homemade food. You might have all the ingredients to cook your mamma’s food but nothing will come close or do it justice. So defeated, you just jump into an unhealthy routine of fries, steaks and pasta while just sprinkling paprika or playing ‘permutation and combination’ with the spices at hand.
I’ll admit, I’m a walking piece of human paradox. It’s funny how I can take forever before trying something new yet when it comes to food, I just like tasting whatever weird thing that comes my way. Lucky for me, I happen to be in Paris! *That’s the moment where foodies are supposed to hear a chorus of angels.* After six months and a few additional pounds, I can finally boast about having eaten ( and eaten again- you can never have too much), the delicacies of French gastronomy (most of)!
I clearly remember the advent of winter. It was my first real winter with its zero temperatures and frostbites but what struck me was the consensual word that was on everyone’s lips: La Raclette. Needless to say that I did not understand the hype at first. What could be so special about potatoes, ham and Raclette cheese?! Well, if I had to describe it in the shortest sentence ever I’d say this. La Raclette is like a warm hug. The melted cheese dripping down the soft and warm potatoes, make the layers of ham of ambient temperature taste heavenly. Mouth-watering. I was also very lucky to discover la Tartiflette, a dish from Savoy. One bite of the reblochon, lardons, onions and potatoes and I was already teleported in the Alps! For the calorie-conscious, a word of advice though: Yes, those dishes taste amazing but a visit to the gym is highly recommended afterwards!
Other highlights of my culinary adventure include the signature “pot-au-feu” which is basically a beef stew that will get you scraping your bowl clean, la Ratatouille, a sort of vegetable stew originated from Nice and the “foie gras et son pain d’épices”! My taste buds have been impressed every time! This list would however be incomplete without the mention of the“Escargots de Bourgogne”, that is snails from Burgundy, marinated in a fragrant bouquet of herbs and “Cuisses de grenouilles” literally crunchy frog legs accompanied usually by equally delectable potatoes. I can already sense some of you frowning or thinking that these must be repugnant. Do not make hasty deductions my friends! Snails taste like periwinkles ( edible whelks/ sea snails) and frog legs can be mistaken for chicken ,were it not for the fried-fish-like crunch of the skin.
Anyway, I cannot wait to see what else there is out there that I haven’t tasted yet! My fridge now looks like it has got the dual nationality (lil’ shoutout to the french system)! I have my stock of emmental cheese, parmesan, jambon cru juxtaposed to my piles of Tupperwares filled with mauritian currys and appetisers from my sunny home.
That’s the beauty of being abroad. It teaches you to cherish your roots and dare brave another culture; and in most cases, you end up finding your own space in both worlds.
– Tessa Lalljee (Guest Writer)