It’s generally known that the French aren’t bad when it comes to food. After all, they’ve left their mark on the world of gastronomy as the founders of haute cuisine, hors d’oeuvres, sous chefs, foie gras, crème brûlée, champagne, and macarons. But, believe it or not, there’s one area of food that they haven’t quite mastered yet; junk food. Call me a philistine, but I would say junk food is an essential part of the modern world. Especially if you’re a student with little to no cooking skills. Don’t get me wrong, I like fancy food as much as the next person, but most of the time I just want to sit in a grubby old hoody and eat greasy food out of a box. I have no shame in admitting that, it’s what I’ve done on a weekly basis for the last 3 years of my university career. Time and money well spent.
So, what’s the problem with French junk food? Well, when you come from a country renowned for its chippies and chicken shops, fast food from another land doesn’t quite cut it. Avignon is a small town, so you face the problem of being limited with your takeaway options. Picture the scene: it’s a Friday night, you’re inevitably hungover from last night’s outing (student night is on Thursdays here. I know, I find it strange too), there’s no food in the house and all you want to do is to curl up in a blanket with a Chinese chicken curry. So, you order a Chinese, right? No you don’t. I’ve made this mistake several times, and each time I regretted it. France, or Avignon at least, doesn’t have any good Chinese takeaways. As someone who has a passion for Chinese food, you need to trust me on this.
Ok, so Chinese is out. Pizza? This is a fairly safe option. I mean, pizza is essentially some bread covered in tomato purée and cheese. How bad could it be? But if it’s not a Domino’s then is it really worth it? Alas, Avignon doesn’t have a Domino’s. No Indian takeaways either, not to my knowledge. There’s a McDonald’s, though. Of course there is. At home, I’m never really bothered about McDonald’s. I’d rather pay double the price and have a Burger King but have it less often. But, you make do with what you’re given, so McDonald’s is a frequent stop for us Avignonnais students.
There is one takeaway that is definitely worth going to. It’s an African ethnic food place. Not your typical fast food but it’s really good. Probably the only fast food place worth trying here. Apart from that, the only way of avoiding cooking is to eat out at a restaurant. I love doing this. I’ve had some lovely Italian food, been to a charming little Greek restaurant, and had some pretty decent sushi. Where are the frogs legs and snails, you ask? I can’t say I’ve really experienced any proper French delicacies yet. I’m not entirely sure where to find them. But with my time left here running out, it’s on my bucket list to at least try some escargot.
In terms of other, more common, French delicacies, I’ve become quite a wine aficionado during my time here, and I’ve also broadened my horizons in the world of cheese. Wine and cheese nights with friends are a lot of fun, and make you feel very typically French. I know I’ve moaned about the lack of any decent fast food here, but that’s only one part of my food experience. I can guarantee that your year abroad in France will be one long line of good grub. You try passing a patisserie and resisting the sweet smell of freshly baked goods! It’s a different culture, so embrace the different foods. It just means that you’ll enjoy your jumbo sausage and chips all the more when you come back home.