when words failed, ratatouille didn’t

The first time I heard the word, “ratatouille,” I was 14 years old and sitting on a cushioned movie theater seat, snug between my mom and my sister, watching the rat Remy come to life as an ambitious Parisian chef. I chose gummy bears a­­nd my sister, popcorn, and we sat next to each other to pass the snacks back and forth, enjoying the salty crunchiness of the popcorn and sweet chewiness of the candy.

Other than the hour or so of Pixar-animated entertainment, the movie didn’t make much of an impression on my young-teen mind. In fact, I barely thought about the story or the food again until six years had passed and I was sitting on a wobbly, white plastic stool in a tiny kitchen in Paris. Continue reading “when words failed, ratatouille didn’t”

a taste of Puglia

Mention Puglia to any Italian, and you’ll likely be greeted with an expression of sheer bewilderment — until, that is, they realize that what you’re actually trying to say (but butchering in exceptional fashion) is poo-lee-a.

But once it’s clear that you’re referencing the sun-drenched heel of Italy, you’ll be hard-pressed to get anyone to stop praising this relatively undiscovered region in the south. Continue reading “a taste of Puglia”

10 things France has taught me about food

If you were to tell me in high school that, after graduating college, I would pack up and move abroad, I would more than likely have laughed in your face. My image of post-graduate life involved hole-in-the-wall NYC apartments and cubicles, not working abroad.

But I suppose life can surprise you when you’d least expect it because, as I write these very words, I’m sitting in an empty apartment in France surrounded by two gigantic suitcases, a boarding pass, and 8 months of pinch-me-this-can’t-be-real kind of experiences.

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a taste of Saint-Malo

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.

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a taste of Provence

They say the Provence region of France is blessed by the gods. I’m inclined to agree.

With sun-soaked hillside villages overlooking sweeping lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards, “charming” is certainly an understatement. In fact, I think “enchanting” is more appropriate.

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a taste of La Rochelle and Ile de Ré

When it comes to coastal cities in France, La Rochelle is a must-see. Commonly referred to as “La Ville Blanche” due to its characteristic limestone facades, this port city sits in the Poitou Charentes region of southwest France, a short 2-hour drive from Bordeaux.

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a taste of Lyon

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.

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a taste of Reims

Although it wasn’t exactly a white Christmas this year, it sure was a bubbly one.

Reims, a city located around 80 miles outside of Paris in the heart of the champagne region, was the perfect holiday getaway. Combining the history and culture of a large metropolitan city with the charm of a smaller village, Reims was a welcome surprise amongst the more well-known tourist destinations in France.

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a taste of persimmons

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.

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