Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vive la France!

Yes, I realize that this is not going to be a popular headline, in this day and age, but … I cannot help myself: I am a foodie! And when someone tickles my food cravings and my food preferences, I can’t help grand gestures …errr … words…

I have traveled on several foreign airlines in my time, anything from the famous Royal Dutch KLM to Czech and Romanian airlines (well, Romanian is not that “foreign” to me, I suppose). I am used to airline food to be a step up maybe from hospital food, but with the same potential to give you a tummy ache.

I never have high expectations about airline food: it’s either “chicken or pasta” or a warm napkin of nothing, inside the US. Oh, or $5 for a coke! But on my last trip from the US to Europe through France, my food standards were about to change.

On the flight from Philadelphia to Paris, we had a menu, and we had choices: yes, still some chicken and wild rice (no mushy potatoes, as usual), or pasta Bolognese, and both were accompanied by a couple of kinds of cheeses (of course) and a couscous salad which was divine! Couscous is a kind of pasta, and I guess this made it a pasta salad on top of a bed of lettuce. It was the most unusual, very stylish, pasta salad I know of. The couscous was sprinkled with a vinaigrette dressing, mixed with black olives, pimientos and bell peppers, and topped with chunks of salmon, in some sort of vinaigrette brine as well. It was so light, and refreshing and delish!

On the flight from Paris to Bucharest, also serviced by Air France, we were served a light mid-day dish of zucchini noodles in mayo (I guess a “healthy version” of frites-and-mayo?!), alongside sautéed scallops. YuMMy!

I guess what they say about the French it’s true: they don’t skimp on luxuries, even during these tough times: they live loud and expensive, because life, as the greatest gift, is meant to be splurged on an enjoyed.

I also read in the in-flight magazine that Air France has a contest going on this year, where they have various cooks offer to cook for the airline, and at the end of the year, the airline officials judge them by the quality of the food they cooked and tray design. Trust me: I did not mind being part of this experiment!

The in-flight tv schedule was like nothing I have seen before, either: not only did we get our own tv, where we had a choice between small screen and big screen programs, but we had at least 20 movies to choose from, some of them as recent and as valuable as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", for instance. We could also, rewind, pause, or fast forward through the movie, at our own pace. I know that this kind of luxury is very much non-existent on American airlines, for the coach tickets, for sure!

Again, as some sort of a testimony of a grand gesture, the Charles de Gaulle airport is amazingly different that anything I have ever seen: it’s modern, and huge, first of all; and it’s more crowded with boutiques and shops than one medium town in the US with strip malls, probably! There were more stores selling perfumes than I have ever seen my whole life, and more stores selling chocolate. Again: a bit of a French myth, but they know their chocolate and their perfumes, I gathered…

I didn’t buy anything, because chocolate and I don’t get along, and I could not find a bottle of perfume I could honestly afford. 25 euros for the smallest bottle which would not have lasted me for more than a couple of weeks just didn’t seem like a good plan. But … I was amazed at the various brands and abundance of it all. I guess it’s true what they say about shopping in Paris. If this was just the airport, I cannot even begin to imagine what the city itself offers, in terms of shops and boutiques. Or foods! I need to stop thinking about that couscous salad! It’s the first thing I want to make when I go back home!

1 comment:

Dawn in NC said...

Oh, I'm so glad that your trip went so wonderfully, in spite of all your worries! ;-)
I hope you're having a great time. Been thinking about you and wondering how it's going! Do you have Patrick in your arms yet?