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A Spoonful of Sugar

Posted by on Saturday, July 14, 2012 in Food, General Information, Student Life, Summer.

DISCLAIMER: If you are even the slightest bit hungry, continuation of reading this post (a sequel of my enchanting life in France) is not recommended because your stomach will be quite jealous.  Also you might be in danger of salivating.

Those apricots were practically dripping with juice.

Vanderbilt offers a lovely program called Taste of Nashville, which gives you a $200 stipend of Meal Money each semester to sample the different cuisines around town outside of the dining halls.  I believe that some people even ran with this idea for a Mayfield project, where they were given an allowance to critique different cuisines in Nashville restaurants.

One event that we attended was called “Tastes of Aix,” where we sampled different foods along the market, and my palette was awakened to new flavors: of a calisson, goat cheese, wild strawberries, and more!  We learned that Aix-en-Provence was established in 123 B.C. by the Romans.  It was the home for many wealthy friends of the king, and these rich people were oftentimes patrons of the arts, which includes not only the musical but also the culinary.  To earn a Master Baker position, a baker must have attended a four-year culinary institute to learn how to make chocolate, sweets, pastries, and ice cream.

Bechard's is one of the oldest, most well-known bakeries in town.

The food here is exquisite.  There is a fresh food market in a square every morning, but the large one comes around every other day.  Everything is seasonal, because the French like to have fresh food; for instance, one would not have squash in the springtime, because squash is harvested in autumn.  Compared to the people I see in America, people here are much healthier and fitter.  I suppose they eat for quality over quantity, as food is a little bit more expensive but tastes exponentially better.  People enjoy food so much, in fact, that a normal workday will include a two-hour break for lunch!  Even schools will have a two-hour break for lunch, and our guide-to-French-life Alexia, who is a teacher during the year, even said that their cafeteria served oysters!

Chef with his humongous pan of paiya at the market.

One great event that the Music Academie offered was the French cooking class.  We went to a lovely lady’s house and experienced a full course French meal.  We began with the apparatif, an appetizer of crispy bread topped with a choice of three tapenades along with wine;  helped make the dessert, which was a buttery lemon pie; skewered some kabobs which had been marinated by our host; sat down for the meal; savored our main course of melon and prosciutto; enjoyed our grilled kabobs; tried four types of cheese with some fresh bread and wine; and had the most delicious tarte de citron (our homemade lemon pie) next to rosemary ice cream.  That was an incredibly fulfilling night.

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