Thursday, May 20, 2010

Being American in Paris...

Let me just tell you, the French have it pretty good.  The climate is almost identical to Portland's, so the same things you'd see in Portland's farmers markets this time of the year are cropping up here.  The slight difference is that not only is the produce from France considered local, but also products coming from Spain, Morocco, Italy and Portugal (think California for us). 
The biggest, brightest strawberries, fava beans, haricot vert, snap peas, green and white asparagus, beets (almost always roasted), carrots, arugula, mache.
And then there's the way the French are able to buy meat.  Whole animals, with organs, head and feet.  Intact and impeccable.  You can look at the fowl or rabbit or lamb and see what it is!  It came as such a revelation to me that this could be a way of life.  It got me so excited, but also a little sad because I know I'll go home, and when I go to the market and buy meat it will already be cut up and packaged for me.  I won't have the option to use the kidneys, liver and lungs, the brain and heart.  I mean, I bought a rabbit that still had an esophagus!!  I never even knew what an esophagus looked like.  Now, I know that most people don't really want to know what one looks like, but that's what I'm talking about.  That's what makes me so sad.  Where we live we're so far removed from where our food comes from that hardly anyone even knows what internal organs look like.  And what makes me really sad is that it's happening in Europe too.  Huge chain stores are becoming increasingly popular.  Packaged convenience foods are becoming the norm, even desirable to busy families.  And European kids are becoming accustomed to foods loaded with unpronounceable and increasingly long ingredient lists.
I've been staying with my aunt, and I know she's going to read this.  I don't want her to think this is me criticizing the way she does things in her house.  It's not.  She's just as busy as anybody, with two ravenous boys and a really picky husband to feed.  She's doing the best she can, and I appreciate her letting me into her home for a few weeks, feeding me, taking care of me when I needed her to, and putting up with me during a hard time in my life.
I just want people to think about their food, and how it connects them to their communities.  I want France to really be what we all imagine it to be:  a mecca for foodies that isn't trying to be, because it already is.
French People!!  You have the earth's bounty at your fingertips!  Taste it!