As a little girl, France meant 1 thing: Paris. Outside of glowing images of the Eiffel Tower, bustling bistros, and baguette, I’ll admit I knew very little. My horizons were broadened once I began studying French in school and even more so when I spent a semester at the Sorbonne. But only since packing my bags and moving back here after graduation have I truly been able to look beyond the city of lights to the other regions of metropolitan France, each of which boasts a unique character — a “claim to fame,” so to speak.
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.
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.
Despite the sub-freezing temperatures here in France, my apartment smells like a straight-up tropical island because of all the coconut flour I’ve been experimenting with lately.
This grain-free alternative to wheat flour is made by pressing the water and oil out of the coconut meat and grinding what’s left into a slightly yellow and clumpy flour. Because it’s loaded with fiber, protein, and healthy fats, coconut flour keeps you satisfied for longer without wreaking havoc on blood sugar levels like whole wheat or white flours do.
… not much. In fact, after baguette, I would say crêpes are a solid number 2 on the list of classic French foods. (Although, according to BuzzFeed, baked camembert is pretty high up there as well.)
Essentially a thin pancake, crêpes originate from Brittany, a region in the northwest of the country. Nowadays, however, they can be found throughout France, both in small stands lining busy pedestrian streets and larger sit-down restaurants known as crêperies.
However much I’ve tried to deny it, winter is officially in full swing here in France. The temperatures are dropping, Christmas lights are turned on, and the winter coat is making its debut. Sounds wonderful and charming, right? Well, not entirely.
The first time I noticed persimmons I was navigating through an over-crowded outdoor market in Sète on the last day of my late-October vacation. Signs of the off-season were everywhere: windows with navy blue shutters intact, boats docked, and sails wrapped securely around the boom with thick white rope. It was a time when the breeze off the sea held the promise of a slight chill and the south of France should, in theory, have been slowing down. But the market was as alive as ever.