Saturday, 27 October 2012

marmite and mint tea

I managed to go on a quick run today before going out for lunch with Zoe, her parents and Niamh. Running in France is always a bit of a strange experience. Joggers in France aren't as common as in England and I always notice looks of general surprise or humour (one person started to run along next to me with two full bags of shopping today) at the sight of someone exercising in the surrounding estate. Jogging has been transformed into something completely different for me now I'm in France based on the reactions I encounter here. It is just one of the many ways that moving to a different country can be made interesting and exciting but sometimes it can be just plain tiring too. I wouldn't swap being here for anything (even cake) but after being here for two months, I have started craving the little bits of home and normality which I just can't find in France. A few examples...

  • The simplicity (stodge) of English desserts- A friend mentioned in a letter that she had been to afternoon tea with her mother and had eaten a apple and blackcurrant crumble. I just melted a little bit inside. I know that I'm spoilt here with breathtakingly exquisite French patisserie on every corner, resembling more works of art than food. The problem is that dessert here is more of an eating experience, you savour and prolong the moment for as long as possible, taking small forkfuls and generally looking like a lady. I'm ashamed to say I miss the lack of pomp in English desserts, where I don't have to feel guilty about dolloping a great spoonful of custard on top and tucking in. You would never do this in France. Ever. 
  • Crumpets- I lived off these last year, never failing to find new things to top them with: butter, beans, ham, marmite, jam, honey, chocolate spread, egg, mushrooms..I could go on. Needless to say, France doesn't really have crumpets, and the only place I did find them, the price was so high I couldn't justify buying them. Considering how much I miss them though, I might just cave.
  • Marmite- not sure people in France have even heard of it.
  • Meat pie (my dad wrote to me about these and I was completely overcome with jealousy...maybe I should start banning friends and family about writing to me about food)
Anyway, this morning when I went to call in on Zoe and her parents, they had this little bit of heaven waiting for me all the way from the other side of the Channel...

I practically ran to my room to get this on some toast with butter. Happy doesn't even come close to how it felt to be transported back to England for the approximate 3 seconds it took for me to demolish it. Thank goodness for parents, and their understanding of the needs of hungry, every so slightly homesick, English girls in France. This one is going to stay hidden in the cupboard in case anyone else sees!
For lunch, Zoe and I proudly introduced her parents to one our favorite food finds in Aix. A lebanese restaurant where we had a three course meal for 13 euros. To have as much choice as possible, we all chose different starters and main meals and swapped round. Falafels, baba ganoush, arayes, marinated chicken skewers, lamb skewers, and kofta...After never having lebanese cooking before I am definitely a convert.  Zoe let me photograph her dessert again which patisserie with a pistachio crust! My fresh fruit salad with rose syrup was the perfect ending to what was a pretty filling meal. There was an endless of supply of mint tea and conversation to finish and then a long post-lunch wander around Aix. The perfect lazy day to wind down after a long first term. 

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