Having spent the previous year in France, I encountered many less-than-appetizing looking dishes. One that particularly stuck out in my memory was a salad, but not just any salad. This was an exploded pigeon-gut salad. As I reached for my fork, I surveyed my platter with disgust. How could anybody eat this? As I scanned the room, however, I noticed everyone was happily tucking in to their delicious pigeon-gut salad. I cringed.

France is famous for many things, and it is those things that entice us to visit and experience this explosion of culture. When asked what three things she associated with France, freshman Brooklyn Venturella responded with the Eiffel Tower, wine and – you guessed it – food.

But is this famed nourishment really as good as we all claim it to be, especially when half the delicacies are things most Americans would turn up their noses at? Such things as foie gras (duck or goose liver) and frog legs are on menus in most refined restaurants.

Many students intend to participate in a study abroad program and a choice destination is France. Will these studious youngsters accustomed to their run-of-the-mill steak and fries experience culture shock as they delve into a lovely fish-eye soup? Fortunately, nobody has to do this alone. Here are some guidelines to aid with the adjustment:

  1. Be prepared for something out of your comfort zone.
  2. Don’t judge it before you have taken a bite.
  3. People typically don’t die from French food. (After consuming 26 garden snails in one sitting, I am a testament to this).
  4. There are many things to pick from the menu and they’re not all bizarre.

Above all, expand your mindset. Open it to the possibility that fish-eye soup might actually taste fantastic. Don’t let the fear of eating bizarre foods stop you from visiting this vast cultural jungle. And remember, there is always the option to say no.

By the way, that pigeon-gut salad turned out to be delicious.