July 2, 2011
Capsaicin? Where are you, my friend?

I’m lying in bed, currently fantasizing about a huge, greasy pizza. The kind that seems like a good idea when you’re ordering (I’m looking at you, Domino’s), less so when you’re plowing through it, and not at all after it’s all down the hatch.

But why, Alma? Aren’t you in France, the gastronomical capital of the world? Well yes, but sometimes, only the bad, cheap food can satisfy a certain craving. Don’t even get me started on Wingnuts and Chik fil A.

Being a student with a limited budget, I don’t exactly eat at the fanciest of places here. Every now and then we’ll allow ourselves to eat at a sit down restaurant when we’re visiting a city such as Paris or Brussels, but for the most part, it’s cheap street food, student restaurants, or the grocery store.

However, grocery stores are a new world to explore all by themselves. Most of my shopping is done at E. Leclerc, which is a huge hypermarket fairly similar to Walmart. Even in this large, “cheap”, highly industrialized store, the food is much higher quality than in the US. Oh yeah, I went there.

The variety and quantity of yogurt available is kind of ridiculous. My first time, I spent at least 30 minutes trying to decide on which kind to buy. I’ve tried several brands, including the “Alsace Lait”, which I assume is based in Alsace, and haven’t been disappointed by any of them. I’ve also tried fromage blanc, but kept myself from buying it every week. I don’t want to go back HEAVIER than when I arrived. We also get yogurt with every meal at the student restaurants. The situation is similar with cheese, but I don’t need to go into the overwhelming amount of cheese here.

Don’t worry mom, I’m getting my calcium.

Living in a land of wonderful dairy products, pastries, and interesting delicacies should give me no room to complain, correct? Sort of. I miss this thing called “spicy”.

Those of you who know me very well know that pretty much every meal I eat back home is spicy. When I have no other options, I reach for the bottle of crushed red pepper and go to town. I use Sriracha sauce so liberally, my food ends up looking like a bloodbath. I would kill a man for good, homemade salsa verde.

As delicious as their food may be, the French aren’t very fond of spicy.

As soon as I get home, I’m seeking out the spiciest Menudo I can find in Atlanta. Oh, and an order of Wingnuts.