One of the most exciting parts of traveling is getting to explore new foods and beverages. From buckwheat crêpes to fermented milk, here are some of the intriguing French treats that made our taste buds tingle:
Digging into a galette with ham, cheese, and cider-braised onions
Of course we had to try crêpes in France, and our first day we did just that! David Lebovitz put Breizh Café’s Breton crêpes in the spotlight when he wrote about them for his blog, calling them some of the best in Paris.They are savory buckwheat crêpes, which are actually known as galettes. The ones we tried came with ham, cheese, and some veggies, and were topped with an egg.
While at Breizh Café we also shared a bottle of bubbly apple cider. This drink is very popular in Brittany and Normandy, and went perfectly with the hearty crêpes. Just like Galician wine is served in bowls, so too was the cider served in the same manner. The sweet cider made for a refreshing treat on a hot day–don’t miss it if you order crêpes!
Lait ribot, a type of buttermilk
Lait ribot, perhaps the oddest item on this list, is a by-product of the butter-making process. It is a fermented milk similar to that of buttermilk and is traditional in the French region of Brittany. While I can’t think of any proponents of drinking buttermilk in the States, this French drink is actually meant to be sipped. It has a frothy, almost bubbly texture, and smells very much like buttermilk. Learn more about this drink here.
Speaking of coffee, check out that awesome demitasse
Of course, there’s coffee to be had in France, too. So far my coffee ranking in Europe reads: Italy, Portugal, Spain. France is not on that list, I’m afraid. At 4 Euros a cup for a coffee with milk, I’d rather put my money towards…
I mentioned our adoration of flaky French pastries in another post, so I’ll keep this description short and sweet. When in France, get thou to a boulangerie! Try the almond croissants, apple puff pastries, classic butter croissants–everything is delicious!
Melons! Check out the orange Charentais melon (above)
A unique fruit that we got to try was the Charentais melon, which is similar to a cantaloupe. When looking for information about it, I came across an ode to the humble melon at a hilarious page entitled “All Hail the Charentais Melon.” I implore you to read this article describing “a fruit that I can live on in rapture and bliss.” Who wouldn’t want to try the fruit after reading this glowing homage?
Mixed platter with falafel, tapendade, hummus, pastrami, kibbeh, fried eggplant, and more
While in Paris we tried Middle Eastern food, as well. The lively Marais district in the 4éme Arrondissement is home to a Jewish neighborhood, and the majority of eateries in this area stay true to its historic roots. We made the trek there specifically to try Chez Marianne, one such establishment. The food was fun to try for something different, but it wasn’t outstanding, either. I know that my own impression of the experience has been dampened by the way the waitress treated us; Marinne herself came out to take our order and ended up chortling at the way we pronounced some of the French words. As if laughing at us weren’t enough, she proceeded to smirk and shake her head while wheezing “Americains!“
We found every other establishment to be very helpful and accommodating when it came to interacting, but not here. If this cuisine piques your interest, I’d recommend getting a falafel to go. That way you pay half the price, plus you have a better chance at avoiding being laughed at for actually attempting to speak the local language (unlike a lot of tourists).
Éclairs (and count-less other sweets)
Finally, we’ve got to mention the éclairs and macaroons. Like the other French sweets, you’ve got to try ‘em. The treat pictured above came from a shop in Versailles, but you can find them anywhere. Unfortunately I don’t have a pictures of the dainty macaroons that we sampled because we ate them so fast. We’ll just have to go back!
Which of these foods would you most like to try? If you’ve been to France, what should we put on our list for next time?