Ranskalaista keittiötä parhaimmillaan: etanoita, macaronseja, fondueta ja ankkaa.

Why French Cuisine is the Best – and other stories on culinary travel

I don’t really have one favorite food, but several: good burgers, oysters, snails, crayfish, raw fish, tartar steaks, and anything with cheese, eggplant or avocado, and the list goes on. What I crave for most varies daily. Today, it would be sautéed reindeer with lingonberry jam.

Crêpes in France, a burger in Las Vegas, cheese breakfast buffet in Paris, and spätzle in Luxembourg
Crêpes in France, a burger in Las Vegas, cheese breakfast buffet in Paris, and spätzle in Luxembourg

On vacation, I like to eat in restaurants with table service. I cook so much at home that it doesn’t really feel like a vacation if I’m cooking, although I do make an exception if we’re at a nice cabin with friends, enjoying the evening. For lunch, I’m fine with fast food or street food, but dinner in a local restaurant is an integral part of the travel experience for me. I’m not a fan of buffets either.

Fish&chips in London
Fish&chips in London

I don’t ever remember being disappointed in the local cuisine. Sometimes it’s been pretty simple, and a week-long sailing trip in Turkey will make me swear off kebap, but my deepest disappointments have been on the way to the destination. Yes, I’m talking about the sometimes inedible food on airplanes. And why on earth is Delta’s intercontinental veggie choice always the same tomato pasta?

The best part about business class flights is the starter.
The best part about business class flights is the starter.

I love starters, and if I’m in a buffet, I usually just stick to them. I usually consider ordering a starter in a restaurant even if I’m not that hungry, just for the tastes. Fortunately in the US, the starters are usually made for sharing, and even sharing the main dish is accepted, unlike in Europe, where in some places splitting the plate will cost you extra.

Oysters don't really taste like anything, and still I get a craving for them.
Oysters don’t really taste like anything, and still I get a craving for them.

My favorite pizza is The Works by Backcountry Pizza in Boulder: sausage, ground beef, mushrooms, feta, banana peppers and olives. Usually in an American pizzeria I go for the pepperoni pizza, which reminds me of Fridays in an American school in the 90s: always pizza for lunch. In Europe, I usually go for the pizzas with pineapple, ham and gorgonzola.

Pepperoni pizza and ice tea on a Los Angeles beach
Pepperoni pizza and ice tea on a Los Angeles beach

I’ve taken cooking courses a couple times while traveling – in Hungary and Vietnam – and it’s always been a fun experience. What I like about the courses is when they teach you different techniques, because the ingredient lists I can always look up in a cook book. In Hungary, I was taught the exact moment when squash főzelék is ready – not overcooked, not undercooked – and in Vietnam, I learned the proper technique for rolling summer rolls and how to cut a decorative rose out of a tomato.

When Luxembourg had Open Doors for its companies, I of course headed to a cheese factory.
When Luxembourg had Open Doors for its companies, I of course headed to a cheese factory.

A couple years ago I would have sworn by Indian cuisine, but my stay in Central Europe changed me: French cuisine is the best in the world. The reason lies in its diversity: not just one kitchen but 22, one for each region, all with their own specialties, like galettes in Normandy (salty buckwheat crepes), “garnished” sauercraut in Alsace (where the garnishings are ten different sorts of meat), or snails in Burgundy, one of my favorite starters.

French cuisine at its best: snails, macarons, fondue and duck.
French cuisine at its best: snails, macarons, fondue and duck.

As for the drinks, I really like American craft beers: there are thousands to choose from, they’re made with passion and devotion, and they’re very decently priced on this side of the Atlantic. I especially like IPAs and Pale Ales. The only one that’s usually missing here is gueuze, the Belgian sour lambic, my favorite beer type – but not anymore, since our local brewery Upslope made a batch of it.

Mulled wine with spices from Colorado, Italian-style apero, beer selection in Belgium, and beer in Madrid that comes with a plate of paella
Mulled wine with spices from Colorado, Italian-style apero, beer selection in Belgium, and beer in Madrid that comes with a plate of paella

At home, we eat fairly internationally, thanks to my love of cook books. I love trying out new recipes, and cook books make great souvenirs. My favorite book is the one Iiro brought to me from Malesia many years ago, The Asian Kitchen, from which I cooked an Indonesian dinner a while ago. Most often in use at the moment is Recettes de brasserie that I brought from Paris, to aid in learning both French cooking and French food vocabulary.

Two foods we love making at home: sushi and BBQ
Two foods we love making at home: sushi and BBQ

I never bring food along with me for trips, except maybe for the first leg of the journey. For long train trips from Luxembourg, I usually picked up a baguette or a croissant from the station. In Colorado, we load the car full of water and soda, and if heading to the mountains, we take trail snacks in case we get stuck somewhere.

If I could buy anything I wanted...
If I could buy anything I wanted from the grocery store… but alas, my local grocer doesn’t stock Carelian pies or licorice.

I like to bring home food souvenirs: dijon mustard in different flavors from Burgundy, Napoleon-beer from Waterloo, made by a local brewery that existed already during Napoleon’s times, and apparently his troops drank the same beer, and from Ireland, whiskey-flavored caramels. However, the best souvenirs are from when I visit Finland: salmiak and licorice candies, local Fazer chocolate, dip powder mixes (especially the one we call “American” that you certainly can’t get from America) and rye bread.

If home sickness hits me abroad, I can always go to IKEA.
If home sickness hits me abroad, I can always go to IKEA.

By the way, all the photos on this post are from Instagram. Before I started using it, I thought it was the social media where hipsters posted photos of the food they ate. Of course it’s so much more… but the food’s still there!


This post is part of Instagram Travel Thursday, a celebration of travel photos on Instagram and the stories behind them. You can find me on Instagram as @globecalledhome. The rest of the participants are below.







4 thoughts on “Why French Cuisine is the Best – and other stories on culinary travel”

  1. I’d love to take cooking classes in Vietnam. That cheese closet would be my happy place. Here in Maryland we’ve got some great oysters, I always serve them in the French style ;)

    1. Oysters is really something I miss living in Colorado. Sure, they have them here too, but it’s an awful long way from the shore… Thanks for the comment Lara!

  2. I love your choices in cuisine. Thanks for linking up. I’m in North Carolina which isn’t too far from Georgia. Like you, I”m not a big fan of buffets either.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge