I'm ashamed to say I haven't been to England in very many years, even though I have family there. I have gone to Paris at least a couple of times a year for the past four years or so, because my daughter lives there with her husband and baby, and I have been to southern France. I have also visited Italy about a half-dozen times. My biggest pleasure when traveling abroad is to cook! My husband and I always try to rent a house or apartment with a kitchen. We once borrowed a friend's ancient manor in Tuscany that had, among many luxuries, an Aga stove. What wonderful chickens I cooked in that stove! We were living in a very small town where no one spoke English, and we spoke no Italian that didn't come from our little guidebook. Still, we did well by pointing to phrases in the book and pointing to items in the markets. A cookbook I found in the house explained the way to cook steaks Italian-style: buy best-quality meat, grill it with no seasonigs whatsover, then brush with fine olive oil and grind fresh black pepper over it. I did this and it was a memorable meal. However, I also recall a soup I improvised with packaged ingredients and a few fresh vegetables, all from the supermarket, and that was delicious too. Perhaps the tiled kitchen and view of the olive grove from the window had something to do with it too...In Paris my husband and I rent apartments, and we tend to have long, large lunches after which we take very long walks home. In the evenings we have a simple meal, and often buy grilled chicken from those streetside vendors whose stores are like closets lined with grills and chickens turning on spits. We have a favorite vendor in Montmartre (where we often stay) who sells roasted potatoes and green beans sauteed in duck fat (at least that's what I suspect) and finely sliced onions. I long to talk to the vendor, who seems friendly, but I don't speak enough French, and he is always busy with customers lined up outside his shop. I do have favorite restaurants in Paris -- many! -- but there is no time or space to list them here. If you are going there, write to me ([email protected]_ and I will be happy to share the names with you. Last, I have to mention that I am a sucker for supermarkets everywhere, in every country. They are all so interesting and so revealing of their culture. In France I buy Fleur de Sel, soap, baking items, spices, candy and cookies, and many more items in addition to food that I plan to cook. In Italy I always look for paper products -- not toilet paper, but stationery. And spices and bread and toiletries and pasta and specialty rices and cheeses...