snapshots of my travels
Let's be honest. Southern France is famous for its fresh food. But if you are anything like me, the thought of eating fish and raw beef is a little bit unappetizing. Even with these two French staples out of the picture, it is still possible to find delicious gastronomic delicacies for even the most picky of eaters.
I can rave about the bread in France for a thousand years, but I don't think it's even possible to understand just how good it is until you take your first bite. French bread is one of those foods where the most simple ingredients are what make it so delicious - common flour, water, and salt! The bread is so soft, so flavorful, and so aromatic - nothing like the "French bread" in the United States.
Atarte tatin is almost like an upside down cake, but also pretty similar to an apple pie because of its crust. It is baked with the fruit at the bottom (usually Gala, Fuji, or Golden Delicious apples), meaning the natural sugars are able to caramelize. While originally created just south of Paris, it is widely available on the menus all throughout the country.
Crepês are considered a cousin of the pancake, though they are much more thin and crispy. The sweet crêpes are typically made from wheat flour and usually served with nutella, caramel, cream, strawberries, syrup, or preserves. In this case, we picked the chocolate and banana crepes.
More often than not, savory crêpes are made with buckwheat flour and filled with a combination of cheese, meat, eggs, or vegetables. I just so happened to findJean's crêpes at the train station in Avignon and couldn't pass up the opportunity to watch my crêpe being made right in front of my eyes. Thirty seconds later, I was gobbling down a freshly made ham and Emmental cheese crêpe for breakfast. This was actually one of my favorite meals in Provence.
French Pressed Coffee
There are many countries that have their own way of making coffee. In the United States, the coffee is pretty watery, yet extremely high in caffeine content. In Vietnam, the coffee is made with sweetened condensed milk. Italian coffee has an unbelievably strong flavor, yet, because the water shoots through the granules at such a fast speed, the caffeine content is pretty low. In France, coffee is pressed. First, the hot water is simply steeped in the coffee grounds, then the filter is pressed, so the water goes through it, before serving.
Duck is one of the staple meals in France. I had never tried it before this, and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. You know how kids say that certain foods "taste like chicken"? Well, in this case, after trying duck for the first time, I exclaimed that it tasted like steak. In fact, I liked it so much, I ordered duck three times during the trip! This plate was covered in a honey sauce, adding the perfect amount of sweetness to balance the meat.
Walk past any boulangerie (bakery/pastry shop) in France and you will find rows and rows of gorgeous little sweets. From perfectly flaky pain au chocolat to madelines, and cream filled eclairs, the amount of decorative little indulgences are endless! Just about any road in Provence has a bakery, so you are bound to find something you like. I absolutely loved this giant chocolate danish on the bottom left - although it was about the size of my face, so i couldn't finish it myself, unfortunately.
French Onion Dip
We have all tried "Dean's French Onion Dip" or the Lipton powder packs that are mixed with sour cream... I grew up on that stuff. Every party or event I ever attended had it. But, coming to France and trying the real, authentic, French onion dip was totally different! This was not made with a powder, but by hand. The spices carefully picked and the onions seared to perfection... I highly recommend you order this as an appetizer.
Provençal Beef Stew
I had been on the search for a nice, hearty stew the entire trip, but it wasn't until the very end that it finally popped up on the menu. I knew I had to order it. Provençal beef stew is made with a tough chuck roast, carrots, onions, black olives, tomato paste, broth, and red wine. While it was delicious, I was quite perplexed as to how to eat it exactly. The meat in this stew came out in one big chunk. Was I supposed to slice it in the bowl? Take it out and slice it on a plate? Perhaps you can give me the answer in the comments below!
Rome’s Campo de' Fiori might be one of the more touristy spots in the city, but it is still worth a visit. It’s the perfect way to soak up the essence of the city. There is often a reason that certain places are magnets for tourists - they are actually really beautiful places! The Campo de' Fiori is no exception - it is truly the most beautiful market in Rome.
The Campo de' Fiori open air market is held every day, from the morning until the early hours of the afternoon. The name in Italian literally translates to “Field of Flowers,” because, during the middle ages, the square was actually a meadow. After that, it was turned into a place where public executions were held... but I’d prefer to remember it by the flowers. Don’t we all?
Since 1869, the Campo de' Fiori has been used as a market, selling everything from fruits, veggies, and fish to espresso cups, exotic spices, and bouquets of roses. You'll find a variety of personalities around the vendors. One time, I ended up buying a spiralizer from a man just because he gave this entertaining little show of all the many ways to shape carrots - the chips, noodle shapes, "hair," etc.
While this market is a wonderful place to people watch, it is not a farmer's market. I do not recommend buying all your produce for an Italian feast here. It's much more pricey than supermarkets nearby. Still, it can't hurt to pick up some fresh Italian basil or olive oil while you're here.
Being the center for commerce, the four streets which lead into the square were named after specific trades. Via dei Cappellari (shown below) was named for the hat makers, while the other three streets are named after coffee makers, key makers, and tailors.
Via dei Giubbonari (pictured below), is named after the tailors, and actually, to this day, has many small clothing shops. It’s a lovely place to window shop.
I got this retro-vintage dress from a vintage-retro clothing store along Portobello Road in London for around 30 pounds. The cat eye sunglasses are from Francesca's, $14.
In the afternoon, the market is taken down and the square is cleaned up by trash men in orange suits. As night falls, the Campo de Fiori seamlessly transforms into a social hub for tourists and locals alike. My favorite place here is called "Magnolia." While I cannot vouch for the quality of the food, Magnolia has some of the best drinks. In fact, they may be one of the only bars that serves frozen drinks like daquiris. They also have shisha, if that's your style.
Unfortunately, though, being a social hub for drunk people tends to lead itself to no good after midnight - so if you do end up having a drink in a nearby cafe, use caution. Don’t get too drunk and don’t leave your valuables in your back pocket!
Campo de’ Fiori Market
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, Roma
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8am – 1:30pm