While my life has hardly been dull recently, I had a difficult time choosing a topic to write about this week. True, I went to church for the first time since I’ve been in Europe (that is, an actual church service; I’ve spent plenty of time in churches, but I went to an Anglican service with a Scottish priest, and it was excellent), as well as popped in and out of museums and landmarks. I finished Sense and Sensibility. I actually prayed the rosary. But those are experiences that still feel too open-ended, too underprocessed.
So instead, I’ll tell you about something close to my heart and fully digested: food. My host dad is a farmer, vintner, and the cook of the house, so between the magnificent meals we have for lunch and the few meals I’ve treated myself to on the weekends, my diet has been a thing of beauty. Here are a few highlights from the last week.
- Cheese. I’m already sad, thinking about returning to America and pasteurization and whatnot. Could some of this cheese kind of punch you in the face? Maybe, but only when you first try it. Once you’re used to it—wow. There’s one cheese, whose name I forget (though I think it’s a cow cheese), and it’s my absolute favorite. It has a lovely herbed rind, so the actual cheese is creamy and strong but with a lovely, infused rosemary flavor. And with a little bread or oil? Life-changing.
- Pâté. Pâté, which is an uncooked meat patty, is, in fact, amazing. I tend towards fish pâté myself, because 1) I love fish, 2) I’m very used to eating raw fish (love you, late-night sushi runs!), and 3) the idea of eating other kinds of raw meats still feels a little odd. Of course, by other kinds of raw meats, I really only mean beef, but still! I had an especially lovely salmon pâté on Sunday at this adorable restaurant called Brasserie Lipp. It was a place kind of hidden—you had to go up a hill in Geneva and then down this staircase to find it—but I sat at a white-linened table under the cream white umbrellas, tout seul, and enjoyed rather fancier meal than I usually have. (There were multiple garnishes!) A summer storm threatened overhead, and I was delighted to watch the family across from me and the young couple kitty-corner and maybe read a few pages of Sense and Sensibility.
- I should note that beef pâté is, in fact, very good. I tried a bit when my host dad ordered it, and while eating an entire serving of beef pâté, as it is usually served, would be a little overwhelming, the dish is very pleasant.
- Mussels! I’d never had them before, but my host dad made them for lunch (the largest meal of the day here) and I was very excited, if for no other reason that I could eat them with my hands in polite company. (I’ve yet to recover from the amused shock of watching a hamburger be eaten with a fork and knife.) My excitement was well-founded, though: he cooked them in white-wine and cream and scallions and they were absolutely delicious. Of course, I love seafood in general, but these were a delight unto themselves. Even the girls, who can be difficult eaters sometimes, were happy to dig in. And these is something very satisfying about slurping little bits of meat from their shells and then mixing the leftover sauce with pasta.
And these were only a few of my favorite things I’ve eaten recently—note that they’re all things I’d almost certainly not get at home. Honorable mentions include some amazing sets of ribs (my host dad could give Texas a run for its money, actually), lamb shank, and a custard-y apricot cake.
So, on that note: santé and bon appetit!