Blog Archives

Who knew we needed that?

Hedgehog snacker

When you move to another country and pretty much everything you bring with you fits in 4 suitcases and 2 backpacks, you’re going to have to buy a lot once you arrive and get settled in. We sold our house in the US fully furnished, down to the silverware and plates, so we needed a place here that had everything included. We achieved that during our first year by renting a house normally used by weekly vacationers so everything we left behind was suddenly available to us once again. Because it was a compact (read “small”) place, anything new we bought had to have more than one function since storage was limited. I wrote about it in Double or Nothing and we’ve been able to stick with that ideal for the most part. Then we bought our own house and the rules got relaxed a bit. Read the rest of this entry

Beaune day trip

The hospice well

With a title like “Wine Capital of Burgundy” how could we not visit the city of Beaune (sounds like “bone” in English) especially since it’s only 18 minutes by train from where we were staying in Dijon? In the US we were big fans of public television, PBS, and especially travel videos from Rick Steves which is where we got our first glimpse of what this part of the Côte d’Or region had to offer. Thanks to YouTube, portions of those recordings are still available so with our memories refreshed it was time to see for ourselves why a famous New York City newspaper wrote an article entitled, “Seduced by Beaune in Burgundy”. Read the rest of this entry

Dijon in 2 days

Maille mustard founded in 1747

If you thought of mustard when you read today’s blog post title, you have good reason. It was the ancient Romans who originally brought the seeds to France, leading to kings enjoying it on their dinner tables as early as the 13th century. In 1777 businessmen Maurice Gris (Grey) and August Poupon, in their original factory that still exists today in Dijon are credited with creating and popularizing the condiment. Another well-known brand, Maille, also has its shop in town proudly proclaiming “Founded in 1747”. You might know this area for that hearty stew, bœuf bourguignon, and that bold red Burgundy wine that goes so well with this dish. On our way to northern France we stopped off for a couple of days to see what else the region had to offer. Read the rest of this entry

Happy Valentine’s Day

A flower in chocolate

We’ve just returned from a few days in Burgundy (Bourgogne) well known for their wines by the same name followed by a long celebration weekend a little further north in Nancy. We’d been invited to a birthday party as part of the famille de coeur by our French friends whom we met more than 30 years ago. It was quite touching to be counted in as members of the “family of the heart” and so appropriate for this time of year just prior to February 14. Even the chocolate shop windows were decorated to keep with the theme (or so we pretended) and we’ll share some photos with you now plus much more about our visit to Dijon in the next post. In the meantime we wish you a Joyeuse Saint Valentin! Read the rest of this entry

My first French cookbook

Marmiton best recipes cookbook

It would be more accurate to add the words “in French” to this post’s title since the prize really goes to The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child. It was the companion to her public television series of the same name that ran for several seasons in the 1960s. Many of the recipes seemed way too complicated for me but she was so entertaining it was hard not to tune in every week. When we made the move here 3 years ago, almost everything we owned got left behind, including that book but we did bring the one cookbook that both of us owned when we combined households decades ago: Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. I felt confident that should we grow tired of exotic sounding foods like soupe à l’oignon, coq au vin, or tarte tatin (as if we would) then having a tried-and-true version of beef stew, fried chicken, or apple pie handy would be all the comfort we’d need. There’s only one problem; these recipes were written for an American audience and we don’t live there anymore, so it was time for a change. Read the rest of this entry

Castelnaudary day trip

Windmill moulin de Cugarel

Last November I wrote that although we no longer celebrate Thanksgiving, thanks to the generosity of our neighbors we don’t miss out on any of the warmth associated with that holiday. After reading that post about this area’s comfort food, cassoulet, friends Sally and Larry suggested making a trip to Castelnaudary to try the dish ourselves in one of the restaurants certified by the Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet as serving the authentic meal. Not wanting to miss out on a tasty lunch nor the chance to explore a neighboring town that was once a stop along the ancient Roman road between Narbonne and Toulouse, we readily accepted their invitation. Read the rest of this entry

Bill found the donkey

The tiny porcelain donkey

Tradition plays a significant role in French culture and our neighbors made sure that we didn’t miss out on a tasty one last Sunday. January 6 is when the three wise men were supposed to have arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts on a day now known as Epiphany. The celebration here always includes the Galette des Rois (Kings’ Cake) which is a large, flaky puff pastry filled with almond paste, decorated with an elaborate design, and topped off with a cardboard crown. Baked inside is a tiny porcelain (sometimes plastic) figurine known as a fève which is the French word for “bean” because historically that was the hidden object. Both olives and prunes are grown locally here and seldom come pitted, so we are used to carefully biting into anything that might contain a real “jaw-breaker”. It was that skill that earned Bill his title of King for the Day when he found the âne that you and I might call a donkey. Read the rest of this entry

A new life in Lille

Tales of a Brit who moved to northern France

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

wcs

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

Chez Loulou

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for meaning...in between leg shavings

Post-Industrial Eating

Just another WordPress.com weblog

An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures