French Food and Me
David Doran

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.

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