How My Foreign Taste Buds Learned to Love French Food

How My Foreign Taste Buds Learned to Love French Food

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love French food
© Paulie Cogordan

Who doesn’t love French food? I admit I became a French-food lover later in life, when I came to Paris a year ago. I’m a Mexican woman with a Franco-Mexican husband and my move to France changed my life in so many ways. Even though this was not my first time in Paris, being a tourist is not the same as trying to live your life as a local.

The truth is, I arrived with almost no clothes in my luggage but with two big suitcases filled with Mexican food (candies, mole, tortillas, horchata, chiles, sauces, beans and more), hoping I could find more in my new home.

Suitcase filled with Mexican food. Photo courtesy of author
Suitcase filled with Mexican food. Photo courtesy of author

Problems began the moment we arrived…

Food Glorious French Food

France has stores for everything! Pâtisseries, boulangeries, torréfacteurs, boucheries, charcuteries, fromageries. There are so many products and ingredients, I almost cried at the sight of this big city full of food.

I remember my first time at the supermarket. This was a whole new world for me and almost a paradise for my celiac problems, because back in Mexico, it’s not possible to find a lot of gluten-free, organic, sugar-free food. I think I spent hours reading every label and in my mind, everyone was laughing at me.

Also at the supermarket, I found some “tex-mex” food, but for Mexicans, that’s NOT authentic at all. So, quickly I realized I needed to ration the Mexican food I brought in order to survive.

Mexican ingredients. Photo courtesy of author
Mexican ingredients. Photo courtesy of author

Culture Shock

No plastic bags at the supermarket? This was a new continent, a new country and a new city, but for me it was a new planet. Really, adapting myself to the differences was a big deal. Later, I saw and understood that everyone carries reusable shopping bags, an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags.

Who would have thought lunchtime would upset my habits so much? In Mexico, we have lunch at 3pm not at 12:30pm like in France. At the beginning, this was really complicated, but now I love this new schedule. It makes me feel healthier.

Photo courtesy of author
Photo courtesy of author

What a Difference a Year Makes

For me, there were also amazing things to discover. So, let’s talk about fromageries. This is one of my very favorite stores in France. You’ll find every kind of cheese you could imagine, from raw to pasteurized, fresh to aged, sharp to mild, sheep to goat, hard to soft. Almost all cheeses in Mexico are made from cow’s milk and a few from goat’s milk. Mexican cheeses are made at home, in small farms or ranches and they are not as strong as the great stinky French cheese. In truth, I have a love-hate relationship with French cheese, because I love eating it, but I hate the stinky smell in my fridge. But deep-down, I’m a cheese lover! So, if I can’t find Mexican food, I can live on cheese.

Photo courtesy of author
Photo courtesy of author

Also, falling in love with French pâtisseries was the easiest thing ever. On every corner, you can find a new sweet spot and each baker has their own specialty. The problem is that sometimes they look too pretty to eat! Croissants are a totally different world over here, the kouign-amann was my addiction during my Erasmus exchange in Brest, the mille-feuille is a delightful cake for a nice afternoon, and for the coffee and chocolate lovers, L’Opéra is a heaven on Earth. But, what about weight gain? Well, I wrote a post on my blog: “This time I’m not going to be fat in France”, which states that moderation is the key to combatting that!

I told you about my celiac problems, well Naturalia and Bio C’ Bon became my favorite shops. The big difference between Mexico and France is that in Paris I can find everything gluten-free, organic or sugar-free. This was a really big event for me! And thanks to my mom’s visit, I realized that Naturalia is more than just a food store. I found Eucalyptus Tea and Echinacea, both really good for a cold.

Photo courtesy of author
Photo courtesy of author

After nearly one long year, I am adapting to my new French lifestyle. I still miss Mexican food, even though I found some good Mexican restaurants such as Itacate Saveurs du Mexique and Azteca Restaurant Mexicain. If you’re an expat like me used to certain foods cooked a certain way, I can tell you that French cuisine is delicious. Try to be open-minded and taste everything from escargots, foie gras, coq au vin to macarons, éclairs, crème brûlée, crêpes and more. If you’re looking for a restaurant for a special occasion, I recommend the Michelin Guides. It’s the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide, and you can trust its recommendations.

I’m quite sure this won’t be the last time you read about my passion for food. My appetite for new foods grows by the day and I want to share my discoveries with everyone!

Paulie Cogordan
Paulie Cogordan was born and raised in Mexico City but after her wedding to a franco-mexican, she moved to the 'City of Love' to start a new chapter in her life. Paulie is a passionate traveler waiting for her next adventure, aN addictive runner in the Bois de Vincennes and a foodie trying to survive without Mexican foodbut falling in love with French cuisine at the same time. After almost one year, her heart is divided ibetween two countries, two cultures and two types of cuisine. You can find more of her expat experiences on her blog at www.paulielovesfood.com

15 COMMENTS

  1. Very interesting Paulie !!! Maybe you could recommend some places in Mexico where to find real french food, that way we can have your guidance and the experience at the same time of all that you are wonderfully describing 🙂

  2. Very interesting Paulie !!! Maybe you could recommend some places in Mexico where to find real french food, that way we can have your guidance and the experience at the sane time of all that you are wonderfully describing 🙂

  3. I also spent half a year in France and the biggest question for me was how the hell they stay so skinny with all these sweet shops at every corner!:) and how they manage to bring home a whole freshly baked baguette without taking a bite. Paulie its nice to read your blogs and see you transforming into real french lady – maybe you can give me the answers;)

    • I know… I can’t believe how they manage to bring home the delicious baguette without eating it! I’m really crazy about baguettes and pâtisserie here but I think if you try to balance exercise and good food, you can survive in France! 🙂 Thanks for your lovely comment!!

  4. French cuisine is definitely an acquired taste, specially for Mexicans whose dishes are quite different. However, it looks like you’ve really mingled with the culture and now you can enjoy those differences. Sooner than later you’ll be having cheese for dessert (I personally still find that french custom baffling).

    Your article also got me thinking about how broad the label “Mexican food” is, specially because Mexico is quite big. I wonder if the the same can be stated about “french food”. That being said, I think it would be nice to have an article about the diverse “styles” of French cuisine and the similarities and differences with famous Mexican dishes.

    • Thanks a lot for your comment, Alan! I think “french cuisine” is really big, maybe not like mexican food but this would be a nice excercise to work on it. I hope I can write an article about that 🙂 Any ideas would help me!

  5. Awesome read Paulie as always, can I just say that you give me hope for my future of food and just settling in general here in France. Thanks girl keep the articles coming

  6. Think how much better for you all that fresh French food is, instead of your pre-packaged Mexican rations, Pau! Love reading your stories.

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