F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

Food is one thing we can’t live without. There are times when food is good to us – we enjoy it and end up stuffing our faces with it. And then, there are times when food makes us sick. Trust me, even in France, an Américaine can expect to find herself fitting into these two scenarios. Thankfully, the second one is not so often experienced.

The stéréotype exists: Food in France is always what I like to call it: fancy, aka top qualité. Sure, one can find this fancy food at an equally fancy restaurant, but it is likely to be expensive and not always what the French eat on a daily basis.

So, what do the French eat? Well, this is a loaded question. Are we seeking the answer to what do French high-schoolers and young-adults eat? What do French children eat? or What do French adults eat? On the one stéréotypé-hand, they all eat the same thing for dîner: Whatever mom/dad/the adult cooks. Although this is a stéréotype, for the most part, this rings true in most French households.  Typique French home-made food is, in my opinion, fancy…(fancy in this case means DELICIOUS)! I live in the south, though, so I can really only speak for southern French food, spécifiquement the food from the Provence région (because food in France is generally categorized by région, though, for the purposes of this post, I’ve left it as uncomplicated as: north vs. south). Provence has her own recettes that differ from that of the north. For exemple, there’s the Bohémienne (my favorite!), which according to mon chéri‘s grandma, is the version Provençal of Ratatouille.

Le bohémienne.

There’s La Daube, Tapenade (olive spread), La Soupe au Pistou, Le Cassoulet… 

Le cassoulet.

…I could go on and on.

Because of the warm climate in the south, olive oil tends to replace the beurre from the north. Southern chefs also use a lot more lavande and thym in their cuisine. In fact, in Juillet, mon chéri and I went thym picking in the forêt next to his dad’s house. There’s nothing like fresh thymRosé is also often present during lunch and dîner. But, certain things stay the same between the north and the south: fromage and a baguette (or other form of bread – mon chéri and his famille adore the Marius) are always present.

On the other hand, there’s the growing rise in…what I like to call it: faulty food – aka fast-food. During lunch, this stéréotype of eating as a famille changes (with the exception of Sunday – the French still hold famille Sunday lunch to heart). During the school year, primaire children can either 1. Eat whatever the school offers (which is always a well-balanced meal that never forgets the baguette nor the fromage – but, this meal is not considered fancy by any French person I’ve met, though, by Américain standards, it’s fancy). 2. Go home for lunch and eat whatever mom/dad/baby-sitter makes or eat at a Snack (aka a fast-food joint). High-schoolers and young adults have similaires options – except they have more freedom from their parents. So, they generally tend to stay near the school and eat at a Snack.

There’s the stéréotype that fast-food doesn’t existe in France. This is a LIE. For starters, there’s Quick, FLUNCH, Pizza Capri, pizza carts that make pizza from wood-fired ovens located throughout cities, and a centaine Kebab (think gyro meets burrito loaded with fries) joints. And then there’s the Américain marks: McDo, Burger King, KFC… I can go on.

The rise in fast-food joints makes me sad. Don’t get me wrong, I love a kebab every now and then – even though, I don’t normally like fast-food (I’ve never been to Quick nor to FLUNCH).

But, those kebabs are just SO GOOD! Also, the food at the Américain marks is différent than in the U.S. In fact, one time, I was at McDo with some friends (not my choix) and I discovered that they sell pasta! The meat is différent, too. The growth hormone, rGBH is forbidden in France, so, perhaps that has something to do with this différence in taste.

On 14 Juillet 2014, I found myself with mon chéri and some friends at a beach in Marseille. Nearly 80% of the beach goers were overweight. I was as shocked as my friends. In the U.S., we have the idea that all French people are in the best shape and that no one is overweight. This is clearly false. One of the overweight kids (he must’ve been about 7 years old) in front of us on the beach was scarfing down potato chips. I didn’t wonder how he ended up overweight; however, I wondered if France continues in this fashion, what will continue to bring Américains touristes here? As touristes, we like to compare the différences and similarités – if everything’s the same, then what’s the point of spending the money for a trip to France? Américains can get this fast-food at home, so, really, the only other reason to visit France would be for the landscape and the language différences… but even that’s pushing it (I mean, there are 2 mountain ranges in the U.S., plus the grand canyon, the gulf of Mexico, Niagra Falls…). I’m not the only expat who’s noticed this rise, either: Check out this post by my friend and fellow blogueur, Jenny.

On the bright side, this rise in fast-food has not yet completely taken over the country. In fact, mon chéri notes that “the number of fast-food restaurants in the U.S. is the same as the number of clothing boutiques in France.” That is to say that there are still more clothing boutiques than fast-food joints in France. So, for now…COME VISIT!

la montagne sainte-victoireAnd enjoy Provençal cuisine while gazing at Montagne Sainte-Victoire. ♦

This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France


La Farce Américaine

This Novembre, mon chéri and I hosted Thanksgiving. This wasn’t my first Thanksgiving abroad; however, this was my first time hosting Thanksgiving. We prepared the entire meal, which was Américain with a French touch. One of the plats was La Farce Américaine, known as Stuffing/Dressing in the US. It was a hit with the French!


*This plat was for 6 people.

Les Ingrédients:

  • 1 1/2 baguettes (day old is better than fresh)
  • 2 carottes
  • 2 cloves of l’ail, or garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 bouillon cubes (or 2 1/2 cups of pot veau)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup l’huile d’olive, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of herbes de Provence (with thyme and lavander)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of aneth, or dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon of ground rose pepper (black pepper will also work)
  • 2 large eggs

Les Consignes (directions):

First, start by pre-heating the oven to about 250 degrees F. Then, cut the baguettes into small, 1 inch squares. Put them on a non-stick baking sheet (or cover the baking sheet with foil or parchment paper to prevent the bread from sticking).

Second, put the baking sheet in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (or until the bread is slightly crispy).

Third, while the baguette pieces are in the oven, start greasing a casserole (or baking) dish. Then, set aside.

Fourth, melt the butter in a medium-sized pot.

Fifth, peel the carottes, shallots, and l’ail. Then, cut the them into small dices. Put them into the pot with the melted butter. Stir on medium heat until the vegetables start to brown. Then, add 1 bouillon cube.

Sixth, when the baguette pieces are finished, put the pieces into a large mixing bowl.

Seventh, add the vegetables (including the sauce) to the large mixing bowl with the baguette pieces. Fold the bread into the vegetables-sauce. Then, stir in the l’huile d’olive, bouillon cube, all of the seasonings, and 2 eggs until the mixture is combined.

Eighth, pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Then, cover loosely with foil and put it in the oven for about 45 minutes. After about 45 minutes, bake uncovered for about 10 minutes (or until the top is browned). Once La Farce Américaine is finished, bon appétit!♦

**This dish can be served immediately or it can be made 1 day in advance (just re-heat in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the baguette pieces are warm and crispy).

Très Cool Thanksgiving

Expats around the world will agree with this statement: Celebrating American holidays away from home is tough. But, do our eyes always swell up with tears and our ears fill with ‘nails-on-a-chalkboard’ pain when the holidays approach? The answer is too obvious to note…

I could go on and on about how fun and awesome Thanksgiving is in America (games galore + a food coma…anyone?!) and how Thanksgiving in France will “Never” be the same; however, I prefer to drink my wine (haha…), not bore you with it, merci. Honestly, this Thanksgiving was très cool! Not only did I celebrate Thanksgiving, but I also celebrated Friendsgiving! (shhh! C’est pas la même chose…or is it?)


Instead of filling my belly with wonderful food and drink with family, I entered into the food coma with other Aixpats and French friends.

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As I stuffed my face with Sweet Potato Soufflé and 3 different types of salad, I knew this Thanksgiving…er… Friendsgiving was going down in history as the best Thanksgiving-with-out-a-Turkey Thanksgiving.


Who knew that a rotisserie chicken would be so much better than a dry turkey? (plus, turkey, chicken… they’re both birds anyway…) Turkeys in France are not as easy to come by as Turkeys in the US. First, you have to pre-order the Turkey directly from a boucher, or butcher. Then, you have to wait until the turkey arrives at the boucher before the turkey is truly yours. After that, you pay for the turkey, and then viola! It’s ready – feathers and all! Thankfully, some bouchers pluck the animal before you take it home. Turkeys can also be pricey. According to the boucher familial, or family butcher, a turkey for about 6 people costs 40€ (~$55). Try feeding 20+… and you’ll opt for the rotisserie chicken (it’s already cooked and ready to go!).


In addition to Friendsgiving, mon chéri and I hosted a Thanksgiving party for some family and my host mom (and her boyfriend).


Dinner started out très Français: there was the apéritif – saucisson (dried saussage) and tomatoes with caramel; then, there was the salade Américain and guacamole (with tortilla chips). Once the main course came; however, dinner turned très Américain.

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Mon chéri and I made Stuffing (la Farce Américaine), Sweet Potato Soufflé, châtains, or roasted chestnuts, and côtelettes de dinde, or thinly carved turkey breast. For dessert, there was chocolat and Apple turnovers in the form of Stockings. Our thanksgiving dinner for 6 in our studio appartement (27m2) turned out perfect.

5 Reasons Why Thanksgiving is cooler in France :

  1. Fresh ingrédients. Most of the marchés in the Chicagoland area are already closed by the end of November, so, fresh ingrédients aren’t even an option. In Aix, the marché is always in its comfortable nook in the Place Richelme everyday, in the Place Romée-de-Villeneuve every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and in the Places de la Madeleine des Prêcheurs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Not only are the fruits and légumes, or vegetables, fresh, but also the meat is fresh! Who wants to pluck the Turkey?
  2. No work at midnight! In the US, I worked in retail… Thus, I sympathyze with all of you Black Friday employees that start at 8:00pm on Thursday. Not having Black Friday in France is certainly one thing to be thankful for! That, and being able to drink several glassses of vin, or wine… This Thanksgiving was rather liberating!
  3. (Speaking of vin…) Vin, vin, and VIN! The French guests always show up with at least 1 bottle of wine… and then, there’s the Americans expats that just can’t get enough of it, either (it’s so cheap!), and I can’t forget to include the other international guests… how many bottles did we end up with? I’ll never know, but I know that they were all empty by the end of the night. I’m not even going to mention the guy who brought the beer… VIN (it’s France, buddy).
  4. Frangermspanlais. There were a mix of cultures gathered around the salon, so, how did we communicate? Well, for me, it was English, Français, or Franglais. It was nice being able to speak to everyone – whether it was speaking Français with Germans (unfortunately, I don’t speak German), English with Irish and Spanish (unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish), and Franglais with Americans (hey, it happens). We got our points across in some form or other.15
  5. Cultural melting pot. Friendsgiving as an expat is the best way to mélange or mix several cultures. By mixing our cultures together, we created a très bon menu! There were typical Américain ingrédients like gravy and mac & cheese…

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…and then there was haggis, french cheeses of varying kinds, Fried Jamaican cod fritters, and tortillas de patatas. This expanded menu enabled everyone to appreciate one another even more than ‘normal’ because we took part in other each other’s cultural experiences. In fact, being appreciative for those around you is what Thanksgiving is all about. It’s not about the Turkey or the green-bean casserole, instead, it’s about the people you appreciate in your life (add skype and you can expand the melting pot to include your family back home).

I’ll always treasure the ‘normal’ Thanksgiving celebration in the US, but it’s comforting to note that celebrating Thanksgiving can be enjoyable everywhere. ♦


Aujourd’hui, I finally tried a recette that I’ve been yearning to attempt ever since I took that first forkful of Mamie‘s recette.

It was a breezy, clear summer evening with the sun starting its descent into dreamland. We watched the sunset at Parc de la Torse. At Parc de la Torse, mon chéri and I made ourselves comfortable among the 20 or so American and Canadian study abroad students and their French host families. It was the last pot-luck pic-nic before most of these students were to return back to the US. His grandma, Mamie, loaded a paper plate full of home-made goodies and handed it to me. Needless to say, I was in heaven. I took a bite of her version of Taboulé and I was hooked. I’ve had other store-bought versions; however, as with everything Mamie makes, her version was by far the best.  I was determined to try the recette.

It took a couple of months before I dared to try it. I put it off for so long because I thought it would be very time consuming. Thankfully, I was wrong. In fact, the recette took about 25 minutes. Taboulé is a very convenient dish because it can be simple or complex. It’s a dish that enables the chef to use ingrédients he/she already has available (which is good if you don’t have a lot of time or money to buy tons of ingrédients) or to buy ingrédients. Also, there’s usually enough for 4 meals. A relaxed liste d’ingrédients  + 4 meals = on budget for this happy AIXpat.


*In general, I cook for 2 – unless otherwise noted.

Les ingrédients:

  • 1 poivron rouge, or red pepper
  • 1 poivron vert, or green pepper
  • 1 echalote, or shallot (you can substitute 1 oignon)
  • 2 cloves of l’ail, or garlic
  • 1 cup of menthe, or mint
  • 1 tomate
  • 1 can of petit pois, or peas
  • 1 carotte
  • 1 concombre
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 2 table spoons d’huile d’olive, or olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon de sel, or salt
  • ½ teaspoon d’aneth, or dillweed
  • ½ teaspoon de poivre, or ground pepper (black pepper or white pepper work fine)
  • 2 tablespoons of jus de citron, or lemon juice
  • 150-200 grams of couscous

Les Consignes (directions):

First, start by filling a pot with couscous and water. If you are using couscous from a box, follow the instructions on the box. It usually takes couscous about 5 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done when you use a fork to see if it moves easily or if it sticks together. The latter one signifies that it’s not quite done yet, while the first one tells you that it’s done.

Second, while the couscous is cooking, start dicing the vegetables and then place them in another pot. Put huile d’olive in the same pot. Cook the vegetables for 5-10 minutes or until they start becoming a little bit soft. *Note: it is important that you choose vegetables that pair well together. Also, I used what I found in the fridge, but you don’t have to use that many vegetables. The two most important things are: the couscous and the menthe.

Third, once the couscous is finished, place it in a large mixing bowl.

Lastly, once the vegetables are finished, place them in the same mixing bowl as the couscous. Then, add the sel, poivre, aneth, and jus de citron. Mix well. After it’s been mixed, place in the refrigerator for about 3 hours to let the juices mix into the couscous. After that, bon appétit!

**For added protein, dice turkey, chicken, or porc. Then, cook it. Once it’s finished mix it in with the couscous and the vegetables. ♦

Côtelettes d’agneau au cari

Aujourd’hui, I tried another “new” recette. That is to say, I tried a recette that I’ve never attempted before. It’s called, Côtelettes d’agneau au cari, aka lamb chops with curry. The recette took about 45 minutes to complete.


*In general, I cook for 2 – unless otherwise noted.

Les ingrédients:

  • 4 lamb chops (4 were more than enough to feed 2 people)
  • 2 table spoons d’huile d’olive, or olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons de poudre de cari, or curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon de sel, or salt
  • ½ teaspoon de poivre, or ground pepper (black pepper or white pepper work fine)

Les Consignes (directions):

First, put 1 table spoon d’huile d’olive in a Cocotte Minute, or pressure cooker. If you don’t have a Cocotte Minute, a pot with a lid will also work.

Second, mix 1 table spoon d’huile d’olive, 1.5 teaspoons de poudre de cari, ½ teaspoon de sel, and ½ teaspoon de poivre in a bowl. Then, add the côtelettes d’agneau and mix well. Make sure the seasoning covers the côtelettes d’agneau.

Lastly, put the côtelettes d’agneau in the Cocotte Minute. Cook for about 15 minutes (based on côtelettes d’agneau from the fridge) or until the côtelettes d’agneau are no longer red on the outside and the juices are light pink. If you prefer your lamb well done, then cook it until the juices are clear. This website offers the ‘safe-to-eat’ temperatures of meat including côtelettes d’agneau: http://www.beefandlamb.com.au/Learn/Cooking_tips/Preparation_tips/How_to_tell_when_meat_is_ready_or_done. theAIXpatAIXperience is not affiliated with this website.

**A sauce that goes well with côtelettes d’agneau, or lamb chops is Raïta, an Indian sauce consisting of yogurt and vegetables/fruit. See raïta au melon et au concombre for the recette for the Raïta that I paired with these côtelettes d’agneau.

I pride myself on making recettes work on a budget; however, when I decided to switch up the meat and try this recette….well, I was in for a not-so-pleasant surprise. Who knew côtelettes d’agneau would be This expensive? I went to the local butcherie, which is cheaper than the supermarché, to buy 4 côtelettes d’agneau (had I been rich, I probably would’ve left with 8 côtelettes d’agneau); they rang up at 12€. On the surface, that’s not a bad price for côtelettes d’agneau; however, it’s not exactly the price an assistant de langue should be paying for meat for 1 meal. I felt only slightly guilty for this expenditure because it exceeded my expectations. This was my first time cooking côtelettes d’agneau, so, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Who knew that côtelettes d’agneau are incredibly easy to cook? Needless to say, those côtelettes d’agneau were worth 12€; however, I won’t be buying l’agneau, or lamb again for a while… For assistants de langue or others on a tight budget, this recette is a great once-a-month luxury. ♦