I’ve been in France for a week now and I have loved every minute of it. I was terribly nervous the night before I left and I slept very poorly, but once I was on my way, I relaxed and let everything just happen.

First days

I arrived in Paris last Wednesday and stayed with my cousin and her boyfriend in their lovely perfect Paris apartment. After settling in, we decided to go out for lunch – little did I know. We sat down out in front of a café. You know, the kind you see in movies with small round tables. I always look for places like that, but they’re so hard to find elsewhere and they’re simply everywhere in Paris! I ordered the lunch dish of the day, a smoked salmon quiche, and we shared a small bottle of rosé. Rosé, you say? If you know me, you know that I don’t like alcohol. Oh, and by the way, I don’t eat cheese. (“Why did you go to France again?”) But I’ve decided that while I’m here, I want to immerse myself fully and appreciate all of culinary culture, so I will try different wines and cheeses and, who knows, maybe by the end of the trip I will actually enjoy them! (I finished the evening with half a glass of sparkling red wine and a sex on the beach…)

Incidentally, my cousin’s boyfriend happens to be a trained patissier and was making a couple of cakes while I was there. So we went to about five different cooking/baking shops where I was surrounded by utensils, stencils, molds, food colors, and much much more! It was so much fun and if my suitcase wasn’t already packed to its limit, I would have bought a bunch of things, but it’s probably best I wait till I learn more anyway.

Although the weather wasn’t magnificent for the rest of my stay in Paris, I still had a good time. Said patissier finished off my last evening by casually making some Paris Brest. I think I have a new favorite dessert. Puff pastry with a praline cream and almonds coated with some powdered sugar. Literally perfect – no picture or words will ever do it justice, you’ve really got to try one. But here is a picture anyway.

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Arrival in Agde

On Saturday, I took a train from Paris to Agde. In Agde, I met the first Gastronomicom participants and some vans were waiting at the train station to take us to our housing. Within seconds, I met some lovely people and the atmosphere was great from then on. Saturday evening a couple of us went to a beach bar to enjoy the sunset and to settle in.

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The next morning, I had to go to the school to make some final arrangements and to get my uniform! It’s definitely much better than I imagined.

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The rest of the day, after getting lost a couple of times, I wandered around the harbor with a few people. We sat down in a café for croissants, bought some olives, and explored the vacation atmosphere.

At last we got to meet everyone on Monday, including our chefs! There are people from all over and people of all levels. Some of the students have been cooking in professional kitchens for several years, while others are like me, having only cooked and baked at home. But nonetheless, everything feels so inclusive and friendly and welcoming.

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Finally, classes began yesterday. I will be taking patisserie classes every day from 9:30 to 12:30 and cooking classes from 1:15 to 4:15. I was slightly nervous, but once we got to doing hands-on work, it was so much fun!!! I had to chop lemon zest into a julienne (thin sticks) and then into a brunoise (tiny dice). I definitely need more practice, but I wasn’t terrible at it, and I can’t believe that I enjoyed chopping so much… Today I learned to clean and filet a fish and I made my first real plated dish. But I forgot to take a picture of it because I’m an idiot.

Both chefs are fantastic at incorporating theory into the practical lessons and I am sure that I will be learning a lot over the next months!

I also joined a gym 😉

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