As I wrote in my last blog post, I recently attended the Southern Food Writers…
The Importance of Food to Travel and Place
I’m a little behind on some of my projects – I’ve been working this week to try to finish up a photo book from our trip to France. We were in France at the end of June 2009.
Any travel to France is certainly going to feature some fantastic food. But it is amazing how when we travel the food and drink of the place plays such a central role in the trip. I took along a blank notebook and at the end of everyday, I would sit down with Carly and she would dictate what she thought was important about the day. I’ve been reading back through for the first time in 6 years to get information to add some notes to the photo book. I have been amazed at the impact of food along the way. Everyday, she had me write down what we had for breakfast, lunch, dinner and more importantly, snacks. Every since the trip, she hasn’t looked at chocolate croissants and Nutella the same.
I took lots of pictures, but I wasn’t writing a food blog back then, so I didn’t take hardly any pictures of the actual food – we were too enamored with eating it.
We had a number of stops around food – a goat cheese farm in Provence, a nougat factory in Montélimar, and of course, we did a walking food tour in Paris.
As I’ve been reading Carly’s notes on our trip, I am amazed at some of the things she tried (and liked) that she might not even try today. Of course, she found lots of great treats that she still loves. Some of these are: chocolate croissant (basically breakfast EVERY day), duck, paté, crepes with Nutella, chevre and aged goat cheese, foie gras, variety of cheeses and many, many snacks from bakeries, ice cream and gelato shops.
I had several revelations – I had always seen “rosé” wine as cheap and not very good (Sorry to offend here, but White Zinfandel anyone????). On our first day in Provence, we took a picnic lunch and went to the Pont Du Gard. Besides being an amazing site to see to really appreciate the reach of the Roman Empire, it was also a great picnic spot. Our guide’s boyfriend is a vintner just across the border in the Languedoc. She grabbed a bottle of wine on her way out – it didn’t even have a label on it yet. I wasn’t sure about a rosé, but this was unlike anything I had drank before. It was a dry wine with nice fruit flavor and matched with the tomato salad, duck pate, cheese and bread we had for that picnic. Since, I have come to appreciate the summer blush wines of Southern France.
As you travel, you find dishes that are eponymous with the locations – Beef Bourguignon in Beaune for example. We had meals feature “simple” food like Roast Chicken where the flavors are nothing like at home. Places like Montélimar known for a specialty like nougat and we found multiple places selling and making it and claiming to be the “original” Montélimar nougat. On our walking tour of Paris – stopping at the bakery that has won the competitions for making the best croissants in Paris or the small supplier making their own Fois Gras.
While there is a lot of commercialization, France celebrates the small focused producers. We’re seeing it shift a little back towards local producers here in the US.
The opportunity to travel is the opportunity to glimpse and gain a little understanding of other fellow travelers on this globe. We have been fortunate to experience a variety of cultures and people and have been able to introduce our daughter to other lands, Germany when she was 5 and France when she was 9. She also learned kids are kids everywhere – at a Park in Paris where she and another little girl made friends and played together, “kid” food like chicken nuggets (or Kinder Schnitzel in Germany) and hamburgers that are familiar, yet still have a sense of place. I look forward to the opportunity to see, experience and share more experiences through travel in the future.
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