Friday, March 8, 2013

Better late than never: Alsace

How do you not OD on cheese in France? We have OD'd on cheese, but we are pressing on and not giving it up now. We did have a couple of cheese mishaps but if we didn't accidentally order the wrong thing in France at least once, what would the fun be?

The cheese of Alsace is Munster, which is not quite as boring in France as it is at home, but still tends toward the milder. So, when in a cheese shop, we asked for a cheese that was "plus fort," and we were offered the strongest Munster. The thing stank up our fridge and then when the door was opened the whole apartment began to stink as well. I began to think we had gone a bit too far. We both tasted it and agreed it didn't taste nearly as bad as it smelled, but we couldn't figure out how to keep it without stinking up the place. So out it went. Cheese 1, us 0 for that round. But we have had many others that have been divine, so we think we still win.

I had heard (and the internet backs me up) that doggy bags are more common in France now. But that's definitely not true everywhere. I asked for my leftovers last night and the waitress said she'd check on that. She came back stammering something about sanitation and security. Oh well.

At the same meal we had French onion soup. Come to find out there was no cheese in it, you crumble your own toast into it, it includes a dollop of creme fraiche and it's more brothy than ours at home. Definitely different from what we're used to, but we liked it.

A common bar snack is a salami on a board with a serrated knife. Pay 3-5 euros for this and get a quality salami for which you'd easily pay twice that in a grocery store at home.

French people ride their bikes on the sidewalk and tend to not wear helmets. Pedestrians who get in the way get dirty looks. However, I saw plenty of French getting dirty looks, not just us.

The way it seems to work is the American tries to speak coherently in French and the French person plays along until the American begins to make no sense and then the French person switches to English. Since I always begin in French I have never experienced a French person pretending to not understand English as some Americans say. But maybe that's because I always try in French first.

Written on November 24, 2012