Bon AppetitArles, Summer 2012

“If you were given five years to photograph France, what would you take pictures of?”

My photography professor stared at me as if she expected a specific answer.

“Everyday life?” I ventured in my broken French.

She seemed satisfied with my response, but continued around the room nonetheless.

Though my teacher was surprised by one of my classmates’ responses, I think he hit the nail on the head.

“Food. Cafes.”

I wonder why I didn’t give that response. Because that’s exactly what I’ve done.

Granted, I’m not a “photographer” by any stretch of the imagination. And I had five weeks rather than five years. But looking back through my photos, I realize the way I will most vividly remember France is through my taste buds.

Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we have “linguistic lunches” with our professors. IES has spoiled me in that I’ve come to expect a delicious, filling meal followed by dessert and an espresso.

Thanks to these lunches, I dove headfirst into the aspect of French culture that most people find most frightening. I’ve tried so many things whose name I can’t pronounce. I’ve eaten duck liver, rabbit, frogs’ legs, and my personal favorite (but really) bull meat.

Now when I hear the word “sandwich,” I think of cheese and ham squeezed into a baguette. I’ll never look at American “ice cream” again without pining for gelato. I can even kind of tell the difference between a good wine and a cheap one.

There’s one more thing I’ve learned from the linguistic lunches that is “tres Francais:” taking time with your food.

I don’t mean eating slowly. I’ve done that my whole life. I mean using meals as a time to slow down and take it all in.

The food. The atmosphere. The people around you. What other time of the day can you sit and enjoy everything that is going on around you? It doesn’t matter what you’re eating. It just matters that you take the time to appreciate the company and the moment.

The three things I will miss most about France all came together during the linguistic lunches: the people I met, the food and the pace of life.

Despite everything I’ve learned, it would be lying to say I’m not ready to go back to the land of Cheerwine and biscuits.


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1 Comment

  1. Awesome photos, Leslie! I love taking food pictures too. Seems like you’re eating very well in Arles!

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