It’s not often that you get a truly authentic cross-cultural experience. This past weekend we had it though. There’s too much to tell in one post, so it’ll be three parts this time. In short, it was a perfect French day. This weekend we stayed with friends in Toulouse – Laurent & Sharla. He’s French, she’s Iowan. His parents live in town, and his father (Jean Pierre) gave us the true French experience on Saturday. We began the day heading into the mountains (Pyrenees), just about 1.5 hours out of town. The goal of the day: go to market, shop for lunch, go to country house, prepare lunch, eat, be French, buy cheese, come home.
Part 1: We started by going to a French market in a little town, Saint-Girons, where all the “mountain people” come out of hiding (as was told to us), and sell what they make. Here we bought everything from eggplant and zucchini to special cepes mushrooms…pounds and pounds of them! Now, I dont know much about mushrooms…lets just say they’re not my favorite thing to eat…but these were special. They only grow if the conditions are right, at the right time of year, so some years they aren’t even available. But this was the time. We bought bags of them. And made them for lunch. And then when lunch was over, on our drive home, we bought even more. Man, the French love their mushrooms.
After the market, we walked back through town to our car, stopping twice. Our first stop was the meat shop. “The best meat shop in all of France!” Here we bought sausage – plain, and with roquefort cheese in it. Another thing the French love: stinky cheese. Not just stinky…but invade your mouth, throat and insides, so all you can taste for the next couple hours is stinky cheese. Well, roquefort is especially strong, and if you’re not used to it, it’s a bit much to take. I tried it, and maybe someday will grow a taste for it, but I mostly stuck to the plain sausage. We also bought duck for lunch (yum!) and blood sausage (boudin noir) – scary for most Americans but was surprisingly tasty!
The second stop was for dessert at the patisserie. Oh man, do the French know how to do desserts. That’s all I’ll say for now. Although I see a recurring theme: the French know their food. Anyway, the pictures recap the day nicely. I’ll tell more about lunch and the rest of the day another time. It was a great day.