It seems that every time I land in France, I arrive in a state of utter shambles. Last summer I flew in from Dublin after a blurry night of Havana Club mojitos. This year I didn't sleep a wink on the plane, and have never happier to find a bed.
And each year it's as if France wants to remind me of why I come, and why I put up with such miseries and strife to get here. (Hint – it's always food-related.
This time, this lovely dish greeted me post-flight…
It was a perfectly constructed apple tart, or tarte aux pommes; exactly the homey, apple-y kind of dish you crave in fall. My Delta-dampened spirits were suddenly in much better shape.
Let me quickly tell you about the family I'm staying with; there are the parents and the three girls, aged 12, 16 and 18. They're all so sweet and welcoming, and we have a lot of the same hobbies like tennis, skiing and horse-back riding in common. (Preppy, much?)
Also the parents are very into both food and wine, so needless to say I think I will fit in well.
When I finally pulled myself away from the pie, I walked with the family to my new town, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. While Saint-Germain-en-Laye is technically a suburb of Paris, it's only about a half hour away on the commuter train.
Upon exploring the town, I couldn't help but fall in love with its French village appeal. The town was founded in 1020, and has lots of historical buildings to prove it; there's even a massive chateau right next to the subway.
St. Germain is also known for its very good food. Who couldn't like a town with grade-a salted butter caramel macarons and rotisserie chickens around every corner?
I finished off my first day in France by baking a cheese souffle with the girls for dinner. Making souffle had always intimidate me – what if, god forbid, it were to deflate, like in all the movies?
Luckily it was delicious – I love eating a dish that warms your soul and makes everyone ask for seconds.
And while I realize that not every day in France will be all 700-year old castles and salted butter caramel macarons, I kind of hope it's not true.