16 September 2009

Smile and Say "Cheese!"

I arrived in Paris 2 years ago not knowing what to expect. All that was certain was that I left a  stable life back home: loving family, childhood friends, awesome career, my dog Popo and all the trifle things which completed a typical, happy and comfortable environment for an independent woman in her late 20's. So why did I leave the picture-perfect home? Simple. I was in love with a French man. Call it cliché, a fairytale romance or whatever but I couldn't believe that I was about to live a dream which I thought would only remain as one in my head.

My first few days as a 'resident' of Paris were a blur since I was recovering from jetlag and sad "goodbyes" at the airport but my husband-to-be fortunately knew me well and whipped out something which would instantly comfort me--food! I distinctly recall the first cheese platter he prepared at home and the sweet thoughts that swept my head seeing that I was finally living in cheese-and-wineland. It was nothing fancy, I remember, but the display of fresh cheese (fromage) like goat(chevre) , ewe--mature female sheep--(brebis), hard &  soft ones paired with pickles (cornichons) and of course red wine(vin rouge) made me smile..BIG!

I tell you, back where I am from, the cheese I grew up with, in other words readily available and afforable, were the industrial ones like Kraft Cheddar or Magnolia Quik Melt and the highly priced imported ones from Europe were normally sold in gourmet stores. It is no hidden fact that the French love their cheese but to be living in a culture where the real cheeses are just as affordable and necessary as it is buying a big 1.5L bottle of water is every foodie's dream! Every supermarket(hypermarché) like Monoprix  will carry a perfect array of cheeses and particularly more charming are the numerous cheese stalls in the Sunday fresh markets (ooh wait for that post).

                                                   types of fromage de chevre

                                                                 Ashed chevre

And thanks to the many cheese platters I have feasted on during cocktail (hour) or apéro, a common word uttered by the French  every 6pm, I soon developed a better palate to know which ones I prefer the most:

 Etorki a Basque--southwestern France--cheese made from pure brebis  which I like to pair with fig or apricot jam(confiture) and Comté a strong-flavored  cow's milk cheese great to sprinkle over warm soups--heavenly combination of the nutty-tasting melted cheese + soup. I can go on endlessly concerning the godliness of cheese in France and its extreme co-dependence with its French consumers and vice-versa but I will save that for another entry.

                        fig jam and brebis cheese platter at restaurant in Corsica
So that was my first happy awakening  in Paris. The city has enough fromage to pair with my different moods as I learn to adapt to the French way of life, living it to the fullest and the cheesiest, of course. hee-hee.


Anonymous said...

Hi I'm big cheese eater tell me more!

How do you pair wine and cheese?



Star said...

Looking forward to more blogs!!!

Great work Anne!