When I think of Paris, I imagine cast-iron balustrades bordering the Métropolitan signs of the subways stations, wrought iron balconies, elegant cream-colored stonework, and wide boulevards lined with independent bookshops, cafés, and boulangeries.
Picture this: someone blows up a pig intestine like a balloon until it takes the shape of a sausage casing. Then he/she stuffs said casing with more chopped up (and very well rinsed) intestines before tying up both ends with string, cooking it, slathering on some mustard sauce, and calling it andouillette.
Now picture this: Jacqueline (me) doesn’t know what andouillette is but thinks — what the hec I’m gonna be adventurous YOLO, am I right? — and decides to order it. And eat it. And subsequently google it because, you know, it didn’t taste exactly like normal sausage. In fact, it was oddly pink and chewy.
SURPRISE! Never thought you would have intestines in your intestines, did you? Well, there’s a first time for everything.
I bought buckwheat flour for the first time to make galettes, otherwise known as savory crepes. After all, I have been living in France for close to 6 months now, so it was about time I made this iconic dish. From ratatouille to leeks to the classic ham/cheese/egg trio, I’ve filled these thin pancakes with just about anything I could think of. I even tried a sweet potato, zucchini, cauliflower, and herb combination when I was trying to clean out my refrigerator a few weeks ago.
However much I love the versatility of the buckwheat galette, there’s only so many I can eat before I’m itching to throw on my apron and experiment with something new. This weekend, I found myself staring at the remaining half a bag of buckwheat flour, wracking my brain for some recipe inspiration.
And then it came to me…. pizza.
I’ll get to the oh-so-delicious food I ate in Annecy in a sec (and if you’re here just for that, feel free to scroll down). But first, allow me a moment of non-food commentary. Because I just traveled solo for the first time, and it’s worth a paragraph or two, don’t you think?
There’s nothing glorious about root vegetables. In fact, they’re often deformed-looking, intimidating, and tough objects that don’t possess nearly the same charm as plump, deep red summer tomatoes or crisp granny smith apples. When I see celeriac, parsnips, or turnips at the market, I’m not overwhelmed with an urge to devour them like I am with, say, a bowl of blueberries. I don’t start conjuring up recipes or salivating at the thought of the earthy aroma they would create in my kitchen. Besides the more common ones (i.e. carrots, potatoes, onions, and yams), I ignored root vegetables for a long time. 22 years, to be exact.
However, as the winter months came around here in France and temperatures dipped, locally grown root vegetables started taking center stage at the market. Remaining steadfast in my commitment to eat in tune with the seasons, I abruptly ended what was a root vegetable-free life.
Last week, I had leftover almond flour I wanted to use before it went bad. In other words, I needed an excuse to make cookies on a Tuesday. Upon realizing that I only had about half the amount of flour I needed, I decided to throw in some gluten-free oats. Although not sure how the combination of nutty flour and grainy oats would taste, I was crossing my fingers that the results wouldn’t be catastrophic.
When it comes to food, the French know what they’re doing. No surprise there. La gastronomie of France, in all its seasonal, locally-sourced, fresh-from-the-market brilliance, was one of the main reasons I wanted to move back here for an extended period of time after college. And since arriving, I’ve been doing my best to absorb everything about French culture (minus their horrendous smoking habits) from the food to the literature to the undeniable and permeating joie de vivre. It’s a spirit that invites elegance into the mundane of daily life, a language whose romanticism is crushingly beautiful, and a gastronomic culture whose vibrancy will make you wonder why it took you so long to decide to move to France in the first place.
Despite all of this, there is one thing I haven’t come to terms with, and I’m not sure I ever will. Because however much I love France, its utter disregard for the amazing meal that is breakfast burns a SERIOUS hole in our relationship.