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Monday, September 28, 2009

Student Life in France: Cafeteria Food

Recovering from a visit to the oral surgeon. Luckily, I can steal a post from Frugal Son's emails from Nantes. Not exactly on frugality, but a glimpse into French student life. His meals are about 3 euros (obviously, these are subsidized), which means they cost about half of what a meal goes for on an American college campus. So, to continue with my cafeteria theme.....

After the tour it was lunch time and since we were already on campus, we decided to eat at the Restaurant Universitaire for the first time. The line for tickets was HUGE so one of us waited in line to buy a carnet of 10 to split amongst the group. Once we got our tickets we went upstairs to the dining area and I WAS IN HEAVEN. Remember that up until this point I had only been eating two small meals per day, usually bread and cheese, so I was craving a big warm meal. I chose the “Cuisine Traditionelle” line, which featured a pork chop, couscous, and steamed string beans. On the side I had a plate of sliced, dried sausage products, a petit pain, and a little salad. Ohhhh it was so good.

At each meal you are allowed to get bread, two side dishes (like a cheese plate, pate plate, cold salads, fruit, etc.) and a main hot dish. In addition to “Cuisine Traditionelle” there were also lines for Pizza and Pasta, the Grill (steak hachee), Cuisine du Monde, and Poisson. Since my first lunch, I’ve eaten things like ray, paupiettes de saumon, paupiettes de veau, lamb moussaka, gigot d’agneau with couscous, caramel pork, saumon “americaine”, brochette de dinde, and ratatouille to name a few. The side dishes are equally exciting and almost every day I have a little plate of pate de campagne or a cheese plate. The French are obsessed with thinly grated (julienned?) carrots and other vegetables and at first I was confused by this obsession with a seemingly boring item. One day, however, seeing no more exciting side dish options, I took a small plate with julienned carrots, celery (or maybe celery root?), and red cabbage. It was so good and now I eat it almost every day! The carrots are served with no topping but the celery (or celery root) has a sort of mayonnaise sauce mixed on top of it and the shredded red cabbage is in a bit of vinegar.

Continuing in the vein of food, after lunch I went to the little grocery store by my dorm. There I bought a few necessities like cornichons, mustard, bread and chocolate. I found an 86% cocoa chocolate bar here and it’s really good. I already had some meat, cheese, and tomatoes (tomatoes are oddly cheap here, one euro for a kilogram) from my trip to Leclerc the day before so I was all set to make sandwiches.

Bon appetit!


Duchesse said...

How delightful! The carrots rapee are helpful in counteracting, may I say with some delicacy, digestive changes that always hit me in France- but may not affect the young. Sounds like Frugal Son is having a swell time. Cous cous is so much more common there, wonder why it's not on more menus here.

Duchesse said...

Oh and Frugal, hope you feel better, dental work can take it out of you.

Funny about Money said...

LOL! So much better than refectory food at English universities, where one quickly learns to go for the flat things. Flat: edible; mounded: no. Custard on it: many crimes forgiven.

Hope you're back to eating chewable food soon!

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