January 3, 2024
I promised we'd get to the food part, but since Orientation Day isn't until tomorrow (Jan 4) and class starts on Friday, I'm limited to only what I've been able to source up while I get my feet under me. When's the last time you had to stock a fridge and pantry from scratch? I'm discovering it's a challenge.
First, I arrived midday the 30th and my host family generously invited me to lunch with them so I could unpack and get my bearings (normally I've elected the option via the homestay agency to prepare all my own meals). It was great! We had butternut squash soup to start, and a main dish from Bretagne that the daughters decided NOT to tell me what it consisted of, for fear I might back out. I've done some sleuthing, looks like it was "Boudin noir poêlé aux pommes" which is blood sausage and cooked apples. All in all, not bad, definitely a new one for me, and the texture was unexpectedly soft.
I waited too long to grocery shop and ran into the problem of Jan 1 being a bank holiday, which the French take very seriously, and I was hard pressed to find anywhere open. I went on a mission to find my school, and saw one tiny market the size of a postage stamp that sold me a box of pasta and some sauce. Honestly, I thought these would be macaroni sized but it turned out to be macaroni for ants. I should've known, small market = small pasta. Jk, it was still good though!
*Finally.* I went grocery shopping yesterday (Jan 2). Here's the haul:
Eggs, cheese, bread, raspberry jelly, a packet of noodles, soy sauce, apple juice, butter, one avocado, I think some chicken breast sliced up (aiguillette?), rice, one single carrot, one head of broccoli, four tiny potatoes, a slap of mousse de canard, and yogurt. Let me show you a photo of the yogurt aisle because someone else needs to experience this with me, and the little old man perusing at the other end of the row doesn't count.
I spent the most amount of time in front of the yogurts just trying to find a normal, plain pack. I left the store 30 min later feeling a little hassled (they don't tell you in French class that you're supposed to weigh your carrot before you bring it to the register) and I don't know if you're supposed to help yourself to a grocery bag or not, but she didn't offer me one so I tried to shove everything in the vegetable bag and put the eggs in my coat pocket.
My host mother found me in the kitchen a little while later staring at an empty frying pan, unenthusiastically contemplating stir fry and offered me a frozen box of chicken curry with rice instead. I abandoned the stir fry for another meal and ate that. It came from a store called Picard, which is basically only Trader Joes' frozen section but bigger, so I will be making another trip out but I think one was enough for the day. (Also, don't be fooled by the pic, it was delicious and I saved half for another night).
Fed and ready, I ventured back out into the rain and MAJOR wind (think delayed flights and Mary Poppins) for coffee* with a friend from school. Obviously I don't have an umbrella. I left it in LA where it's never seen the light of day.
On the way to coffee I bought a bag of petit madeleines (my favorite in any size) and stopped in the Mariage Frères for tea at a colleague's recommendation.
Had to make my own tea bags with a packet of filters they gave me.
Bonus dog photo. He's rarely interested in me, but became my best friend tonight when I made duck-mousse-on-toast. Pictured below: my avocado with soy sauce for breakfast.
Tomorrow is orientation! Hopefully by next week I'll have some more ideas for what to make, or I'll have been to Picard's so I don't have to think about it.
*I don't actually drink coffee, so tea for me.