Greetings from Heathrow International airport!
I left my host family about four hours ago and am currently sitting in Heathrow airport in London, in between flights from Paris to Chicago. I simply can’t reflect right now on what I have just completed— that will come in my next blog post in the coming two weeks after I have had time to think more rationally. It’s always hard to understand the impact of an event on one’s self clearly when they are in the midst of it.
I do want to share a few of my last moments in Paris. Many moments are bittersweet at the end of a sojourn like this. Last night was my last dinner in Paris, and my host family and I had an amazing farewell feast in our cozy dining room. As an entrée we ate foie gras, a french delicacy where you cook goose liver and eat it with a tartine, toast with jam. We accompanied this with a very sweet red wine from Bordeaux, a region in France known for its wine. The intense sweetness was a perfect complement to the savory foie gras. We followed this with the plat principale, the main dish, a white fish with caramelized onions, a sprinkle of lemon, and roasted cherry tomatoes. We ate steamed broccoli and green beans on the side. My host dad went around the table and poured an extremely dry ten-year-old white wine from Alsace into the second, larger wine glass during this course. After this came the third course, the family’s favorite cheeses taken with a third wine, this one red like the first, produced in Burgundy. After a leisurely wine and cheese, we concluded our meal with a house tradition, a whipped chocolate mousse with sweet cookies. Throughout the two hours we talked about everything and brought up many points about this study abroad and the things that happened at that table throughout the semester.
Here in France I have learned that meals are as much for the society of friends and family as they are for the food. Both are highly regarded; French people gather together enjoying great food and endless conversation. In my host home, dinners are the one time of the day when the whole family comes together. The conversations turn to discussions which turn to debates and even after you have finished eating you stay and talk as you please.
It has been an absolute joy eating dinner every night with my French host family. I think we repeated the same meal maybe once or twice in three months. Every night it was home prepared and colorful and flavorful. Occasionally on more special occasions like last night we paired our dishes with wine from all over France and Italy and sometimes Spain. Even when we didn’t pull out the wine from our family’s cellar, I will remember our dinners as moments that defined my everyday Paris experience. Because for an hour and a half each night I spoke more French than I had all day and and I learned about life in France from real Parisians. I learned phrases and expressions that only come up in native conversations, all the while feeling like I was truly a member of a French family. And I was; it makes sense why it was so hard leaving this morning.
I know for a fact that after some time, hopefully soon, these sad feelings will melt away and I will be left with only good memories of my time here. Sans aucune doute- without a doubt- I will return to this city and I will be sure to meet with my host family when I arrive. I’m leaving you with a picture I took earlier in the week. It was a beautiful sunset.
One more blog post to come when I have a bit more bearings about me!
À bientot mes chéris,
Written on December 10th.