I’m glad you asked.
The answer is: Food, and lots if it.
By the time dinner time rolls around, which is about 8PM or later over here, I’m quite famished. And hungry. A bit dehydrated. And thirsty.
My go-to meal is pizza.
That’s right, pizza. There might be more Italian restaurants/pizza joints over here than French-food restaurants. There are definitely more pizza places than crepe places. Go figure. Then again, pizza is the single greatest food in the world.
The pizza here is generally quite good to excellent, and I usually have one every third or fourth night. In addition to being affordable, delicious and filling … it’s easy and non-intimidating to order. Whenever possible, I get a salad verte with my pizza. Hey, you gotta eat healthy.
The pizza over here comes with a bottle of “spicy oil.”
It’s a glass bottle filled with all sorts of hot peppers and herbs, and olive oil. They marinate together, creating something pretty tasty you sprinkle on your pizza. The hotness factor varies from place to place, as each chef has their own recipe.
I think they just keep adding more olive oil to the hot peppers and herbs when the bottle is empty. This means some bottles of spicy oil date back decades, centuries, possibly to Roman times.
When you think about it, a crepe isn’t that different than a pizza. It’s a carb/crust foundation onto which you can put just about anything.
The classic crepe is the “complete,” which has cheese, egg and ham. It’s pretty much a perfect combination. And totally satisfying. It would make for a perfect breakfast, but they don’t really have breakfast places/diners here.
Another French classic is Salad Nicoise: tuna, tomatoes, green beans, olives, hard-boiled egg, lettuce and … anchovies.
I know, anchovies! They’re not something I eat very often, and when I see them on the list of ingredients on a pizza … I keep looking. But they work on a Salad Nicoise. Maybe I need to try one on a pizza? Maybe not.
Another French staple is confit de canard, which is duck … and is OK. I really like duck, but the confit de canard I had in St-Emilion was kind of mediocre, and the creamy potato dish in the ramekin was under cooked and disapointing.
So, over here, the big thing at many restaurants, and pretty every French-food-themed restaurant, is the fixed-price menu. You get the appetizer, main course and dessert for a set price, and get to pick from three or four selections each for your appetizer, main course and dessert.
At my hotel in Libourne, the fixed-priced menu was quite reasonable, 19 Euros, and had a nice selection.
Here’s something I’ve learned over the years on French bike trips: When in doubt, get the boeuf. They know how to make a tasty steak over here.
Here’s something else I’ve learned over the years: They don’t really serve many vegetables. Not sure why.
If you’re ever in doubt about what to get for dessert, go with the mousse au chocolate. The version at the restaurant in Libourne was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
I tend to only get dessert when it’s part of the fixed-price menu. Otherwise, I pass and have one of these later. OK, two of these. Three? Well, once. But, they’re really, really good.
I love couscous. It’s a wonderful mixture of a grain (the couscous) with meat and veggies, and a delicious sauce that pulls it all together in a giant bowl of deliciousness that makes your stomach thank you.
When I saw a sign for a couscous place in Libourne, I got really excited, rushed over, salivating, and … it was closed. Not just for the night, but for good. Heartache ensued.
Here in Pauillac, I found a little place, Chez Sally, a take-out place really, with a few tables, that was serving Couscous Royal (chicken, maguez sausage and lamb). The woman working there (Sally?), brought two plastic containers out to my table and walked back inside.
“Well, this is gonna be messy,” I said to myself and started working out the dynamics of how to either transfer the couscous in the one container into the meat, veggie and sauce mixture in the other container with my tiny plastic fork and knife … or the other way around.
I spooned some couscous into the meat/veggie dish, mixed it around, took a few bites … and then the woman came back, with a large bowl and large spoon.
“Merci!” I said, relieved.
Sally’s couscous was very tasty, but there was one issue. The sauce was oily and fatty, from all simmering meat cooked in it. Usually, they cook the vegetables in the sauce … and the meats separately … and there’s no fat is the sauce.
Oh well … I did get to eat couscous.
OK, it’s 7:34 and this post is scheduled to go “live” around 10:PM (France time). I’m gonna head out for dinner, will come back and add a photo of tonight’s main course.
(Later) … Here you go, tonight’s dinner…
I know, I’m so predictable. But writing about pizza earlier this evening, made me think about pizza. And thinking about pizza makes me want to eat pizza. This one had merguez, peppers, onions and olives and was quite tasty.
OK, gotta go … time for a Mars bar.