I lived in France for three months in a small city called Montbéliard. My time there wasn't long, and it wasn't very exciting, but I tried to make the most of it by exploring as much French culture as possible...particularly, la cuisine française. The French love their food, there's no doubt about it. They have a real passion for both cooking and tasting – and this passion comes in various forms.
I’d say that something unique about France is its love for bread, cakes and pastries. Bakeries specialised in cakes (‘pâtisseries’), normally merged with regular baker’s shops (‘boulangeries’), are found all over the country. Every morning, for example, the Montbéliard locals would walk to and from their favourite baker’s shop with a paper bag of warm baguettes, just made and ready to eat. I soon adopted this routine and whether I wanted some fresh bread for soup or I felt like something sweet, it didn’t take me much effort to find the nearest pâtisserie, full of delicious cakes and treats – my favourites being croissants, pains au chocolat and tartes aux fraises. But there were also various sandwiches, prepared baguettes and even hot foods like paninis, croque-monsieurs and quiche.
It’s very easy to find sweet treats in France. Sometimes I’d order a chocolate crepe with a coffee; in fact, I lived very close to a crêperie that offered a variety of crepes, both sweet and savoury, for an actual meal or just for desert. But I always chose the crêpe au nutella – which was really good.
Although there weren’t many, I managed to find a few good restaurants in Montbéliard. One night, my friends and I went to La Cocotte, where I ordered a steak, with chips and a large green salad. I had asked for my steak to be rare (‘saignant’), since I was in France, and when it arrived…well, who needs ketchup when you have blood? The steak was very red – more or less raw! But I enjoyed it. Another night, we went to a very typical French restaurant to try some snails (‘escargots’) but I still can’t decide if I liked them or not. They're unusual. But they came in a really nice sauce.
After three months in Montbéliard, I only really experienced a small part of la cuisine français. But I really liked it – even if it was quite expensive. And now that I’m back in Scotland, I'll definitely miss the occasional crêpe au nutella and I’m probably more likely to take my steaks slightly rare now...
Nonetheless, I doubt I’ll be hunting for snails in the garden and cooking them for dinner.
What type of food is well-known in your country? What are the typical dishes?