Things to do in the Languedoc: Food: Regional Specialities: Coffee and other Drinks
A couple of things you need to know about coffee:
First, if you ask for a café you will be given
a small strong black coffee. This is not a bizarre
eccentricity. It is the traditional way to drink coffee.
If you come from the Anglo-Saxon world, you might
well prefer a large milky white coffee. If you want
one in the morning you should ask for a café
au lait - this will be regarded is perfectly reasonable.
If you want one at any other time you should ask for
a café crême - if you do this after meals
you may well be treated with a sort of condescending
tolerance due to foreign barbarians who cannot be
expected to know better.
Incidentally, the people of the Languedoc are entirely
unaware of the delights of real milk or cream. Your
white coffe will almost certainly be made with UHT
milk, so don't expect to enjoy it.
Another thing you need to know is that most French people
regard tea as disgusting. This is not unreasonable as all
French tea (until very recently) has been disgusting. For
resons that are not at all obvious, firms like Liptons only
supply the most appalling rubbish to France - with the inevitable
result that everyone shuns it. (If anyone can suggest why
Liptons should do this, the webmaster would be intested to
Many locals drink tissanes, various kinds of herbal tea. Tipically you pick
a few fresh herbs, put them in a teapot, pour hot water over
them, leave for a couple of minutes, then strain off. As so
often, the locals have clearly got it right: not only do your
own fresh herbs cost nothing, they are free of caffein and
other poisons, taste delicious, and often promote good health.
Beware that you can't do this with any old herbs - (there are heaps of Occitan
sayings about the unfortunate effects of making tissanes with
the wrong herbs). If you are in a restaurant, you are sife
enough ordering any tissanes on the menu. Similarly you are
safe enough with anything offered by a local. If you want
to try making tissane yourself, start with sage (good for
the digestion) or vervain (helps you sleep).
Click on the following link for recommended
books on Languedoc food, eating and regional specialities
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