For an Asian city mouse like me, adjusting to Fonty’s food situation was initially disastrous. I’m used to 2AM drive-ins at 24/7 fast food joints, scrumptious hawker fare at rock-bottom prices, and groceries at every corner!
Fonty initially felt like a wasteland! Groceries closed at 7:30PM and even had lunch breaks – yegads! They closed by noon on Sundays – who goes supermarket shopping early Sunday morning anyway?
Most restaurants were pricey with very specific opening and closing times. I remember walking into a pizza place and being told they didn’t open until 7PM. But I was famished at 5PM (in Hong Kong they probably would have opened the restaurant just for me to rake in some extra moolah)! And I had to learn just enough French to squeak by ordering “une carafe d’eau”.
After the first month, the charms started to unravel. I learned of a wonderful farmer’s market open Sunday mornings serving fresh produce, seafood, cheeses, and jams (and paella!). I took up cooking on weekends. I did finance cases with a slice of Emmental and a glass of Riesling. And probably the best discovery ever: I went to Picard and chanced upon duck confit for just 3 Euros!
And here’s something INSEAD doesn’t advertise – the canteen in Fonty is AWESOME. I officially scheduled my life around lunch! And as if to prove how much of a devotee I am, I buy their packed leftovers each weekday for dinner. Who in their right mind has ever had veal au jus with a side of gratinated potatoes for less than 4 Euros? Well, I have now.
So city mice – don’t fret! As with most things here at INSEAD, good things come to those who taste.