Because classes ended so early in Akureyri (but I’m due back there in late December) I decided to seize the opportunity of being so close to mainland Europe and see what some of it has to offer.My first stop was France. Paris, to be exact. Now, my travel companions and I got A LOT of Parisian ground covered, but first, I really need to dedicate a blog post to the food.
Icelandic food is good… If you like flavorless and fish. So coming to France I had nearly forgotten what variety of cuisine was like (even though my roommates and I had been lamenting this predicament for months). France was a revelation. Here are some of the greater hits:
After a long day of exploring approximately half of the Louvre (not an exaggeration), we stopped by a street vendor for a crepe filled with dark chocolate. I truly believe that it saved my life and allowed us to continue walking around Paris that day. Street crepes are like street tacos: magic.
My mom and I didn’t exactly mean to go to a French market, but damn am I glad we did. It was straight out of a fairy tale. After being in Iceland the first thing I noticed was the piles of colorful, fresh produce. A rainbow of fruits and vegetables was a dream come true after months of fish and snow. In the non edible department, the aromas of fresh flowers and fresh cut greenery made for an interesting, pleasant aroma.
Slightly more shocking were the butcher’s stalls. There were turkeys that were only missing their lives and their feathers, there were suckling pigs (not a thing I realized you could acquire without special order), and all manner of meats. And like every cartoon of France ever, there was a cheese vendor with wheels of cheese stacked high on tables.
The most foreign stall however, was the seafood vendor. We have seafood markets in Monterey, but not like this. There were fish, yes, and lobsters on ice, which is fairly typical But there were also crabs cut in half, in their shells, scallops still in half shells, and sea urchins. It was amazing and oddly enchanting.
The highlight of the market, however was the honey vendor. He had for sale jars of various honeys, candies made with honey, and other deserts sweetened and flavored with his wares. My mom and I tried some of his rose honey candies and then bought him out of that flavor. Moral of the story: even in the deep of December, France runs the food game.
One of the best meals I had in France was a crepe. It was filled with sautéed onions, seasoned chicken, sour cream, and drizzled with honey. I’m not totally sure how to describe this crepe, except that it was really, really delicious. It was a wonderful marriage of salty, and sage, and complex sweetness. So, if you’re ever in Paris, I recommend you go to Creperie Cat’Man near Notre Dame Cathedral.
My mom and I also had a fun time exploring all the bakeries and pastry shops in the neighborhood we stayed in. France is, of course, littered with shops the size of shoe boxes that are full of wonderful smells and enticing displays. We sampled many.
Finally, the icing on the culinary element of our adventure was a visit to La Maison du Chou. We learned about this place via this video by Tastemade: A Cream Puff Romance which you should watch… Anyway. They make traditional French cream puffs. Most cream puffs that you find in the US are filled either with whipped cream or something like vanilla pudding. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but in France, the most basic filling is made of whipped cream and a soft, white cheese. It’s not unlike a lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting, and It. Is. Awesome. As it says in the video “They are filled with cream, and I am filled with joy”.
By the way, it was still pretty cold in France, but there was sunshine!!