France #2: Discovering French Cuisine

Mac ’25, discovers the joy of French cuisine and culture.

Despite my host family’s dog waking me up at midnight, I was able to get up around 7:30 and eat breakfast with Simon, my 12-year-old host brother. We had leftover pasta, some yogurt, and some milk. Then Natalie, my host-mother, and Candice, my 5-year-old host sister, walked with me from their home to Arles À La Carte, our new school. After arriving, Mdm. Thornton started the day with some general planning and information about our stay at Arles and divided us into two groups for a city walk. My group included Sammy, Elizabeth, Lillian, Toler, and myself and we were led by Emilie, a colleague of Mdm. Thornton. We visited several spots in the city. First, we went into a librarie (in French, library is biobliothèque, book store is librarie) that has countless beautiful bandes dessinées (French comics). Each French comic has a distinct style of art and main idea. Then, we visited L’espace Van Gogh, a garden dedicated to the legacy of the well-known painter, Vincent Van Gogh. It was relaxing to see various kinds of charming plants, flowers, and a pretty fountain in the middle of the garden. During the city walk, there was a lot of cool graffiti that expressed people’s opinions in an artistic way.

After that, we went to a local restaurant for lunch, and I tried tartare de bœuf for the first time. Tartare de bœuf is a dish of fresh raw ground beef with a raw egg on the top. I mixed the raw ground beef and egg with Worcestershire sauce and other seasonings. During that first bite, I mistook it for sushi because of its similar texture. However, I immediately realized it was beef due to the firm muscle tissues. With the help of seasonings, le tartare de bœuf tastes silky, but also flavorful. For now, my favorite French dish has to be le tartare de bœuf. I also had une mousse au chocolat (chocolate mousse) for dessert. Unlike the mousse I’ve had before, this mousse is more dense and tastes more like ice cream at room temperature. To sum up this meal, it was a miracle. Dining in France is a dream.

After lunch, the two groups gathered together and visited le musée départemental Arles antique. This museum possesses many Ancient Roman collections, and like any other museum that has anything to do with Ancient Rome, there is a head of Julius Caesar. One thing I learned from this museum is that the head of the statue is generally removable, which means that Ancient Romans could replace the head of Julius Caesar with other heads based on the reigning emperor.

After the museum visit, I walked back home and enjoyed dinner with my host family. The meal included artichokes, a vegetable that we peeled off and ate to the core, and la tartiflette, a dish of cheesy potato slices. It is always enjoyable to have family dinner, not because of the fancy food, but because of the genuine connection between family members. Love brings this family together and shows up on the dinner table, which is a critical part of French culture. To finish off the day, I played some board games and chess with the kids. Before going to bed, I will polish the French rap Si Julius Caesar Rappe (If Julius Caesar raps) with Sammy. I am sure it will be a hit today, as it would have been 2,500 years ago.