A couple of days ago I was walking through the grocery store with my mom, when I saw canned “spotted dick”. Now don’t be alarmed it is not what you think it is. Spotted dick is a British pudding that soldiers ate during WW2. The only reason I know this is because I bought a wartime recipe book on a whim in Arromanche. Arromanche was one of the towns that was stormed during the Normandy invasion. This is where the Allie forces set up a artificial port. They dropped huge concrete blocks into the water to help break all the waves, around that they towed in bridge parts that were linked together to form a path onto shore. Through this port the Allie troops were able to funnel in supplies and troops into France.
I will probably never cook anything from this book because the recipes are gross, but it will be fun to look through it and laugh about it. Also looking through it will bring back all the memories from Normandy, which was my favorite stop (except for the caves).
Now that it has been over a month since I left my Piette group at the airport, I have finally built up the stamina to write this blog post. When I first got back from the trip I told my mom that I do not remember any of the trip. But of course she begins interrogating me “what did you do the first day?, the second? What happened next?”. I think I managed to get to day four before I got confused as to where we were when.
But now over a month later I now can remember the chronology of the trip and all of the individual stories for each destination. For the past week I have been visiting family in California, they each wanted to know about the trip and I was able to give them a concise review of Piette. Hallelujah! I was able to tell them about the infamous Piette pebble, the beaches in Normandy, the castles and the caves. I told them about some of the jokes we have and how the whole group became really close.
For me personally I have been able to think about and remember the trip and all its glory. I will never forget the bus rides on our massive red coach bus with Christian, the gap yah video after which we all chundahed everywhere or how the faculty and students gelled into one group. Even writing this post now, I am remembering more stories and highlights of the trip. The trip was fabulous.
It has been fun, but I have to work on my food project. See you in the fall…
Last night we ate at a fabulous little restaurant in downtown Sarlat. When we got there we had the choice of sitting outside at separate tables or upstairs and have a table together. Obviously we chose the latter. When we got upstairs we sat down and began reading through the menu. This menu was quite similar to the menu we had the night before, lots of duck and froie gras, and then other down home french classics. Considering the night before I had coq au vin I knew I wanted to have a classic sarlat style meal. Since sarlat is in the region known as Dordogne, duck country, I decided to go for the crispy duck confit.
While my appetizer, goose gizzard salad, was delicious all I could think about was my crispy duck confit. Traditional duck confit is a duck leg cured with salt, garlic, and thyme for ~2 days, after which the salt cure is washed off. Then the duck leg goes into a deep baking dish, with it’s own rendered fat and then it is baked for hours. Typically this is then plated with a salad and sent out to the customer. This is where my dish takes a left turn.
The chef at this restaurant decided to take this slow cooked duck, wrapped it in a phyllo-es que dough and pan fried it. What they brought out was the best thing I have ever eaten.
This photo I took of it only captures the beauty of the dish. It does not show you however how the meat falls off the bone, or how the crispy outer crust contrasts the smooth texture of the duck along with the sticky texture of the onion jam. Or how I did not need to use a knife to cut any part of it. This main course was pure perfection!! Once I had finished eating the complete meal I sat at the table in a food coma replaying the meal in my head. This was probably the best meal I have ever had.
Our new blog assignment is to talk about whether reading about something or looking at a photo is better or worse than being at the actual place or object. I can personally say, first hand, that seeing the actual object is even better than seeing the photo. My second night at the Hôtel Victoria was spent in the lobby with Dr. Blunt, Ashley, Jacob, Camille, Indy, and JT discussing various things in or about the Louvre. Somehow we began discussing the statue of Cupid and Psyche. This is a well known statue, by Antonio Canova, where Cupid is embracing Psyche from behind. I immediatley was attracted to the statue because it was quite delicate looking and had a lot of movement within the two people despite it being stone. Mind you this is all from one single photograph on the Louvre website.
When we got to the museum the following morning Indy and I took off in our own direction, having been to the Louvre before. We decided to skip The Mona Lisa and go straight to the Roman, etruscan, Greek, and Italian sculptures. We began walking through the many rooms when we got to one of the big halls. Indy and I began walking through. We saw tall sculptures of people, gods, pillars etc. but when we got to the end of the room we saw The Sculpture. At this point in the day I had forgotten the piece was in the museum, but when I saw it I had a bit of a freak out. It was a lot bigger than it had looked in the photo. I thought it was going to be small and delicate, but it was large and strong. However despite the size difference, the people had a lot of delicate features. Cupid’s wings were long and beautiful. Psyche and cupid’s arms and legs were smooth and lithe. They looked like they were alive. I enjoyed seeing the sculpture in person much more than looking at a photograph. If I could, I would take the sculpture home with me, but at least I can look at photos and still get some of the thrill of seeing it.
As you know from my earlier post I am exploring the world of food. So far much of the Parisian food I have eaten has lived up to what I read on the internet. We have eaten in a lot of bistros and cafés. Breakfast has been baguettes with butter and jelly, croissants, and juice. But the jelly is not like the loose kind we have, but it is like jello. Most of our dinners have been at the typical french bistro. We have eaten, pork, beef/veal roll ups, sol(fish), with copious amounts of potatoes and breads. The desserts have been delicious!! We have eaten crème brûlée (my personal favorite), chocolate mousse and apple tart.
Today we did some power sight seeing. This morning we went to Montmartre, hotel d’invalide, saw the facade of the cathedral where Napoleon Bonaparte, Eiffel Tower, arc de triomphe, champs élysées, and place de la Concorde. After lunch we took a tour of Versailles. This chateau is wicked! There is a lot of gold and velvet and glass and crystal and marble and paintings and gardens and people.
Considering we are leaving tomorrow evening, I am beginning to feel a bit nervous. I usually am nervous before I travel, so this is nothing new. However I have a new stress this time around. I am not only packing for Piette, but also for a cruise that will follow immediately. I am now, at 11:33pm, frantically trying to make sure I have everything in my suitcase and carry-on. I can only hope that once we get to the airport and take off I will have everything. Despite the fact that I am in a bit of a panic mode, I am super excited for the plane we will taking to France. These planes are massive!!
While we are in France we, the students, are going to be working on individual projects to help enrich our experience. I am going to be exploring the world of food. I have already gotten the broad food cultures in each region we are going to. For instance in Normandy there is high quality seafood, apples and apple products (calvados, cider) and in the Loire Valley there is quality fruits, cherries, melon strawberries. They are also known for their fish and wild game. Food is my jam, so I am super excited.