Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search

Amy Carzo graduated from Tufts University in 1991. She worked at the Priory with the European Center during the summer of 1991 through the Albertville Winter Olympics in 1992, the summer of 1992, and the summer of 1993. She remains deeply connected to our community!

As a staff member of the Tufts University European Center in the early 1990s, I loved doing everyday errands amongst my new French neighbors. To navigate these daily tasks, I quickly saw I had to learn the nuances of these daily, yet important, interactions. Learning the proper way to acknowledge a shop owner when entering (‘Bonjour Madame’) and leaving their store (‘Merci, bonne journée’) was an early lesson that made assimilation just a little bit easier. It was also a way to start building relationships in my new community.

The marché—the outdoor markets in both Talloires and Annecy—exemplified the great respect for food in France. Markets like this were not common in the U.S. at the time, and I quickly learned that this weekly event was to be taken seriously. From the artistic display of artichokes, cheeses, and breads to the exchange between a longtime customer and a farmer about how the strawberries were looking this season, it was immediately clear to me that food was a very important aspect of everyday life.

I remember once asking a fromager (cheese monger) to recommend a cheese to serve at a special dinner I was preparing that night for friends. We discussed the menu, the wine, and whether my guests were local friends or visiting from out of town. Next came the recommendation: tomme de Savoie and reblochon, classics of the Haute Savoie region. The next week, I circled back to the cheese monger and shared that the cheeses were wonderful, and that my guests appreciated the thoughtful local selection. The fromager beamed with pride.

Taking the time to select the best produce, wines, and cheeses was directly connected to the lingering conversations at dinner, which was really about the importance of slowing down to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Understanding this was one more piece of the puzzle that is French culture.

Today, I continue this tradition at home when I cook for friends and family. I take pride and great care in the presentation of the table and the preparation of the food, creating an environment where we share stories and linger at the table much the way I did when I lived in France. These practices honor what I learned from my time in France, and ensure that the traditions live on in my own household, even an ocean away.