As I have mentioned in class once before, I
went on an exchange to France during my sophomore year of high
school. I learned a great deal about the culture there, especially
the part of the culture dealing with food. One of the stops we
made was at the Hard Rock Café in Paris. The waitress spoke
English rather well, which was refreshing. As we were ordering
our food, she tried to warn us that in France, meat is not cooked
as thoroughly as in America. When I got my burger, I saw that
she was very right. I ordered a cheeseburger cooked medium-well
and it came out pink and dripping. The bun was soggy from the
meat juices before it got to me. The lesson I learned there: when
it comes to meat, medium-well means halfway pink and still bloody.
Walking through the streets in a small town,
we come to a street vendor selling warm sandwiches. One of my
classmates orders a chevre sandwich, not knowing what it is. He
takes one bite and decides that he will not be eating any more
of it. After consulting our teacher, we learned a helpful piece
of information: chevre is goat cheese.
I also encountered some of the French cuisine
culture in the home of my host family. Firstly, the definition
of desserts is much more broad than in the States. Fruit, cheese
and yogurt are all served after the main meal because they are
considered to be dessert. Such foods could constitute lunch in
America. Also, the French, and other Europeans, I believe, do
not bother trading their fork between hands while they eat. After
cutting food with the fork in the left hand and knife in the right
hand, it is perfectly acceptable to place the food in one's mouth
with the fork still in the left hand, instead of switching the
fork into the right hand. Similarly, it is not uncommon for someone
to scoop the food onto the back of the fork using the knife and
eat it that way.
The final lesson I learned in France came after an hour and a half at a wine tasting festival: cream of cognac is good.