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Column: Agricultural Salon ends in Paris

Though I initially walked into the exposition with mixed feelings, I left with a full stomach and a broader sense of awareness about the French gourmet and cultural landscape.

However, for me, I found the sheer amount of food in this expo awe-inspiring. From the milk bar facing the cow corral to the regional French food section, I had no idea where to start.

Beside me was Gina O’Neill, a fellow Institute of the International Education of Students participant. Idling through the crowd, and simultaneously eyeing the multitude of Alsatian beer stands, we symbolically worked our way through France.

Initially, she said she was surprised by the variation of events.

“I pictured it to be more of a bazaar that offered tons of different products,” she said. “Kind of like a farmer’s market, but for specialty foods from around France.”

However, our first steps into the expo were around an acrid room of cows. That was not as pleasant as we expected. Fortunately, we ducked out quickly and headed to the aforementioned region room.

Booths upon booths of food were available, and signs hung from the ceiling designating which region we were in.

Seeing Germanic décor clinging to booths selling sausage, breads and pretzels, we went straight into the Germany-bordering Alsace region.

Within a small distance I passed through Alsace and curved around the “country” and found myself in the southern section smelling slabs of duck confit searing.

Lastly, in a corner of the room, France’s island territories were represented. There was Caribbean music playing while spices, fruit juice and rum were peddled.

The only bad part about the day was that after tasting so much food and seeing people dressed up festively in traditional garments, a sense of wanderlust was lit within me.

Which is unfortunate since I do not think I will get to see much more of France during my stay here.

So I was glad I got to dedicate a day at the salon and have a little, and literal taste, of what I was missing.

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