My host mom has made some fantastic dishes for dinner since I've been here. Literally, I wolf everything down because it is so good. And also because we usually don't eat until 9pm (21h), which is late even by French standards.

Fun fact: a French term for this is vivent comme un espagnol or living like a Spaniard

We sit down to have dinner every night (except Saturdays. I must fend for myself.) and that is when I get the majority of my French practice in. We talk about what happened that day, and usually end up on some general topic, like travel, family, differences between America and France, funny stories, TV and movies, or weekend plans.

Some of the traditional (homemade!) provençal food I've enjoyed so far includes la soupe aux pistou which is a broth with beans, veggies, and pesto. I don't know the names of anything else, which is unfortunate, but it's always so good, I've eaten it all before I had a chance to think about it! And I rarely ask "What's in it?" because 1) I don't know how to phrase that politely in French and 2) I don't care! As long as olives and lamb are out of the picture (someday, Dad) I will gladly eat it! I even tried a weird sausage that I'm pretty sure was liver, but was still quite tasty.

Of course, there has been a plethora of cheese, too. I don't think my stomach is reacting well to all the heavy cream, though :( Goat cheese, chevre, is extremely popular here; different from camembert that was everywhere in Caen (Normandy). My mère d'accueil also bought a milder cheese that tastes somewhere between cheddar and brie - I've got to find out the name, it's good!

Baguettes are bought on the daily. There is a bakery down the street that must be baking around the clock because it always smells amazing when I walk by. I bought a baguette from there once to snack on and it was still warm! One of the greatest moments ever. And don't ever try to eat day-old bread in France. It is just not done, and they will practically smack your hand off! Also, when eating bread with a meal, you always keep the bread off your plate, separate. Not sure why, that's just how it's done.

Pastries abound as well. My favourite has lately been a tartlette aux rhubarbes from the chain bakery Paul. Crêpes are easy to find, but the best are at an underground (literally) place called Crêpes A Go-Go, which sounds silly, but they have by far the best crêpes in Aix. I've had Nutella (obvi); citron et sucre (lemon and sugar), which is the more French way to go; and also mushrooms, cheese, and eggs which was just as filling and delicious as it sounds.

With all these amazing treats, you'll be surprised to hear that tonight I had the first meal that fell absolutely flat. Je ne l'aimais pas.

My mère d'accueil started off the meal with a great soupe épaisse, which was a cross between a chowder and a "cream-of" soup. The dictionary says it could also be a stew. I think it was made from some sort of squash like pumpkin or butternut. Anyway - delish!

When she brought out the second part, I was excited at first because I was super hungry and ready to dig in. When I saw it was pasta and meatballs, I was even more excited because this would really fill me up! However, the French should just not try to make Italian food... That is what Italy is for.

The tomato sauce was too spicy; and the meatballs were not beef, they were something else weird that I did not appreciate. They also were straight meat, not done the Italian way that my aunt always tells me about, with breadcrumbs and herbs and other goodies that I don't know about (I'm only 1/4 Italian, ok?).

I'm going to let this one repas (meal) slide at being subpar because it isn't French cuisine. But no more freebies, France! Your amazing cuisine is world famous, so don't you slight me!

On another note, I can't believe I hadn't written about French food until this point! Shame on me...



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