Today Matthias and some friends from Nimes had a scuba diving class just outside Montpellier, so we all piled in the car and tagged along for some beach time. That was twice in one week for me! (I went on Thursday with my friends from the Secours Populaire, where I volunteer). The ocean of course was great, although it was really windy, which made spending time on the sand pretty miserable. I had fun swimming and taking pictures of the baby, but we only stayed a couple hours. The highlight of the day was actually a potluck BBQ they had at the dive school after their dive. I kept telling Holly that this is what I came to France for! It was so fun to be a part of their culture. I feel that people think barbecuing is a truly American experience, but we’ve got nothing on them. I loved that something as informal as a BBQ is still a reflection of French eating.
They started off by setting out drinks and aperitifs. The drinks were mostly wine and other alcoholic drinks, but they also had orange juice, water and syro, which is a concentrated fruit/sugar syrup that you add to water. I actually like some of the fruitier ones with the sparkling mineral water, but I put so little in that it’s similar to drinking water with lemon or essential oils. The aperitifs were just chips and nuts.
They brought out salads next, and then the meat started coming of the grill. That’s when the volume suddenly doubled. Oh, and I must mention that for some reason there wasn’t any bread at the start of the meal, and you would have thought we’d forgotten the grill or something. There was a lot of panicking. But someone went and bought two bags of fresh baguettes, and all was well. There were a few kabobs of chicken and steak, and some of duck heart, which was surprisingly very delicious. I was worried about the texture, but it just seemed like regular meat, except with that rich duck flavor. The main meat was sausage. I think there were at least 4 different types, and it just kept coming. They even had one that was stuffed with roquefort cheese. It was ok, but that’s one of the stronger cheeses, and I couldn’t eat very much of it. The absolute best part was the next round when they brought out the cheeses. They had put them on the grill after the meat, and melted them. Wow. Melted Camembert. It was divine. It’s also a fairly strong cheese, but not as much as Roquefort, and I loved it. I ate two pieces of bread and cheese, and now I’m a bloated mess, but it was worth it! The cheese course also included fruit and an apple tart. One dessert. As in one tart for about 20 people. They cut it into little slices, and I’m sure not everyone had one because cheese and fruit are also dessert. And you don’t eat everything, like at an American BBQ. I absolutely love eating in courses. I fell in love with it in Spain, and always want to eat that way, but then when I get home I just return to my American ways and throw everything on my plate at once.
Another big difference is that this whole process of eating lasts about 3 hours. At home it seems to take forever to get all the food together, everyone is starving waiting for the meat to finish grilling, kids are crying, etc. When it’s finally done everyone piles massive amounts of food on giant plates, and inhales it all in about 10 minutes. And then you do that all over again for dessert. Other than the occasional green salad, and healthy meat, most of the food is junk. Eating in courses means that you can pick at things while the meat grills, so everyone is happy. The food is almost all good for you, and you just enjoy conversation along with every course individually on your little plate, and before you know it 3 hours have gone by. Who’s up for a French BBQ this summer? ;)
The Camambert. Amazing.
This looks huge, but it's a little appetizer plate. That's the duck heart.
Note Holly's sandals, almost completely buried. With he wind that happened in minutes.
Baby footprints. So so cute. He didn't love his first beach experience, but we had fun with him.