Merry Mercredi, everyone!
Being a vegetarian in France is usually no big deal. Once I go through the typical script of “No meat. Yes, fish is meat. Yes, other seafood is meat. Yes, bacon is meat. Yes, chicken is also meat. Meat means animal. If it is an animal, I don’t eat it unless it’s a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience. Yes, really.” people usually understand and I do just fine with pasta, veggies, and all sorts of other delicious dishes. At the school cantine, it took several days of saying “Je ne prends que des legumes, s’il vous plait” before the servers caught on to my diet. Now, when the chefs see me coming, the call echoes down the line. “La petite végétarienne arrive!”
As you’ve seen from the past two days, I have no trouble finding enough food at lunchtime and generally am more than satisfied with the many options before me.
The exception to the rule is Wednesdays.
Every Wednesday across this fair country, all elementary schools are closed and high schools have half days. Because most kids are running for home by 11:55 AM, the cafeteria offers a limited menu to the remaining boarding students and teachers, usually made up of leftovers from the previous day. For the few vegetarians and vegans around here, that means plain grains and less-than-filling meals that frequently lack a protein. In fact, I tend to skip the cantine lunch on Wednesdays, but I wanted my dear readers to see the difference.
It’s easy to see the origins of today’s meal: green beans from yesterday’s side and macaroni that was first bought for Monday’s lunch. It might be less than beautifully presented, but these dishes were still surprisingly yummy and relatively filling, though my rumbling belly would have probably been content with sawdust this afternoon. The green beans reminded me of home, even though they weren’t quite as salty as my family would have liked. (That’s probably a good thing.) Having had camembert cheese three times in as many days, I’m starting to hope for a nice chevre or even emmental for tomorrow. The one thing our cafeteria always gets right is the dessert; the gooey chewy melty caramel cake was perfection on a fork.
Do you have any dietary concerns that some people just don’t understand? Gluten-free or vegan people would have a very hard time here in the land of bread and cheese.