1. Old men playing pétanque in the park.
There is a group of old men who get together every afternoon and play pétanque in a park I pass on my way home from work. They all have impressive beer bellies (though they're probably more like wine bellies) and they take their game very seriously. I've seen them get into numerous light hearted arguments about the game. They're just so darn cute and I am going to have to take a picture of them if I ever remember to take my camera out of the house.
2. Their love of animals
Something interesting about the French that I never knew before was that they love animals. So many of the people here in Paris have dogs and everyone seems to enjoy them. They're even allowed into restaurants. It isn't an official "ok" but apparently other patrons and the owners look the other way if someone brings their dog into a restaurant or cafe. I've even seen people sitting across their table from their own dogs, the dog sitting in its chair and acting like a perfect guest. In one place in Lyon there was even a cat that lived in the restaurant. I miss my own animals so much that I was more than excited about this beautiful young cat wandering between the tables. I chummed it with some of my saucisson and he came and sat on my lap and happily shared my meal with me. This fact about the French honestly makes me think about moving here because then I could have my cat and dog at work with me every day.
3. The bread
It's no secret that the French love bread or that they make damn good bread. What I didn't know before coming here, though, was that they take it so seriously that there is actually a law which states that not all the bakeries in a village, town, or city, can be closed on the same day. At least one place has to be open so that the people can go and get fresh bread for the day. Every day I pass numerous Parisians with their baguettes under their arms, or sticking out of a bag on the back of their scooters. There are just about as many bakeries here as there are Starbucks in America. I have yet to find one nearby that will become my standard but so far all of them are pretty darn good.
4. The children
While I may not be a huge fan of the french language at work I do find it wonderful to listen to outside of the kitchen, especially when little kids are speaking it. They must be so darn smart to know how to speak this crazy foreign language! They sound very cute and it doesn't hurt that they are often dressed up in adorable french outfits.
5. Men in pink
Real men wear pink and while I find a lot of French men to be a bit frail and sissy for me, I do love that so many of them wear pink. I saw at least three gorgeous French men wearing the wonderful color today. One of them even had pink pants on, another a pink bow tie.
6. The buildings
Being an American I'm not very used to all this beautiful old architecture. Everything here is historic and bewitching which makes every day a bit brighter just because the atmosphere is so pleasant.
7. Outside seating
Pretty much every place here has somewhere outside to sit. The cafes and brasseries will even put just a line of chairs along the side of their building on the sidewalk with tiny tables in front of them if there isn't room for actual seating all around a table. This could be partially because of how many people in France smoke, but I think it's also just one of those things that they do here and that everyone expects and enjoys.
8. The drivers
I may be the only one who feels this way but I absolutely love how French people drive. There's no fussing about they just get in the car and go go go! They drive fast, they honk regularly, and they only use the fast lane on highways for passing.
Passionfruit is one of my favorite fruits. I absolutely love how it tastes and I will order anything if it has passionfruit in it. It's not something you find all that much in the states. But here they seem to love it just as much as I do. Most ice cream places have passionfruit sorbet. Almost every pastry shop has something with passionfruit in it. You can find juice with passionfruit in it in every grocery store. I am definitely going to bring back this mindset when I come back to the states and plan on working on a lot of passionfruit recipes.
10. Tonka bean
I had never heard of tonka bean, let alone tasted it, before I came to France. It is, however, my favorite flavor. It is reminiscent of vanilla but so much better than that. The beans look like weird shriveled black almonds and you grate them like you would a nutmeg. The smell is incredible. They are, for whatever reason, illegal in the United States. I don't know what the FDA has against them but apparently they decided that since eating five pounds of straight tonka beans could kill you somewhere down the road they aren't allowed in food. But here in France where they have much more strict rules on food colorings and preservatives, they have tonka all over the place. At my patisserie they make a tonka rice pudding and I have fallen madly in love with it. For all of you lawbreakers out there, you can actually find it in the states because it's used in voodoo and perfumes and so if you'd like to test it out in the safety of your own home you can. I am taking on a personal mission of discovering a way to mimic tonka bean within my own pastry shop because it really is just that darn good.
to be continued...