Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bon Dimanche

I can’t state how much joy my Sunday market brings me. But it should be obvious to the readers because I feel like I mention it often. I want to blog about it every Sunday because every Sunday it brings me something refreshing. I am always learning something new, whether it’s about what is in season when, discovering a new food I have never seen before, or having the opportunity and time to practice my French with the Locals. I love that I have vendors who know me and greet me each Sunday- and who notice when I haven’t been around for a while, or comment that I got too much sun the day before (an impossibility here if you ask me.)

This Sunday, nothing out of the ordinary particularly happened, but I want to share my experience – to document it, so that I may never forget the joy it brings to me. Today is a beautiful sunny day. The walk down the cobble stone street that leads to the main market road was sparkled with people carrying baskets of fresh produce back to their flats. The line at the “Coeur de Pain” (Heart of bread) boulangerie was out the door with people waiting to get their baguettes to accompany their family Sunday meal. And on the corner the tabac was filled with men sipping their cafes probably discussing the events of this last week.

My first stop at the market is always the produce stand. Here there is a young French guy who typically helps me, or was the first person I interacted with and he patiently helped me get through the proper pronunciation of French produce. There is an older man with a mustache who is always smiling, and a quaint woman who always walks around to the waiting patrons and offers samples of fruit, “Fresh cantaloupe! 1 euro, Lovely Strawberries 2 euro per kilo.” My next stop is generally to the woman who sells herbs. I like her a lot. Today was the first time we talked past what I actually wanted- my typical order each week is either Basil or Coriander (Cilantro)- however today I stepped out of the box and tried something new.

I am not sure if it because it is summer- the beginning of the new season, but today I discovered many new foods I had never seen before. Not only discovering new foods was part of today’s fun, but also the delight of picturesque colors displayed on all the cherries, strawberries, peaches, and nectarines, they are like a bright floral arrangement of fruit, bursting with flavors of bright colors.

In celebration of the new goods from today, I want to highlight three of my indulgent purchases today. Two are new goodies to try and one is and oldie but a goodie- but tastes more extravagant than ever before. I am so sad I cannot put a sample on my blog for you to try, but can only tempt and tease you through the pictures and writings. Today I bought- some type of exotic Mushrooms, Nectarines, and Coco Haricots- but I have no idea what they would be called in English.



Last week there was an abundance of new mushrooms on display- I was tempted then, but resisted. However this week I went to the market in pursuit of mushrooms. When I made it to my herbs lady who had on display about 5 different types of mushrooms- I asked her what the difference was between them, and she said they were all really different, it depended on what I wanted to make. I explained that I had no idea, this was my first time, but they looked all so beautiful I wanted to try some. She pointed out the mushrooms pictured and said they would be easiest.



They also happened to be the ones I was eyeing last week. She then instructed me how to prepare them and gave me a free bunch of chives to sauté the mushrooms in. I can’t wait to try them- I love the shapes and colors of these- I am interested to see how they change form when cooked, and what aroma they will fill my apartment with.



Last week I bought a half kilo of Nectarines and regretted it all week long. Why in the world would I have deprived myself? These Nectarines are one of the best things I have ever enjoyed in my life. The color of the skin is like a perfect Californian sunset and the flesh inside is as bright as the sun on a clear day. The bursts of flavor overtake your senses and is the purest taste of a perfect summer one could enjoy.



In response to only buying a half kilo of nectarines last week- this week I bought 4 kilos (8 pounds) of nectarines. Obviously I cannot eat 8 pounds of nectarines in a week- but the plan is to chop some up and freeze them to be enjoyed all year long. Genius I know!

And finally- the most exotic award goes to my coco Haricots. I have never seen these before but was intrigued as soon as I saw them. I have no idea what they will taste like or what the texture will consist of? Will it be like a kidney bean or will it be like a snap pea? I initially thought the color of the shell was pretty the gentle wisps of purple color.



But then the guy helping me opened up the shell and inside was 5 pearls of speckled jelly bellies. My friend Andrea was talking about how much creativity God used when giving us food and when I saw this, I thought of Andrea, and am interested to see what this creation will bring to my palate once perfectly prepared. I was told to unshell the jelly belly contents into lightly boiling water for 40 minutes, what I forgot to ask was what I should make with them. But here’s to trying new things.



Overall, today’s market experience was a success. I was able to collect a plethora of goodies to be enjoyed throughout the week. I was able to have good conversations in French not only about the food but able to learn more about those who help me week after week, and reconfirming the relationship with my hosts. I am so lucky they are able to share their knowledge and nutritional treasures with me. I am excited to have something new to try to make and taste throughout the week. Hopefully I will follow their instructions properly and have successful stories to share with them next week.

Bon Dimanche! (Happy Sunday!)

She's Headed Home- and Oh So Excited

In one month I will be getting ready to board a plane and headed to the land of the free and free refills! So I have decided to make a list of things I am oh so excited about! So in no particular order….
1. Free refills
2. Family!
3. Friends!
4. Fun
Okay enough F’s already
5. Mexican food!
6. Seeing friends who are pregnant or gotten married in the last year and a half and celebrating with them.
7. Runs on the beach
8. Seeing supporters and sharing with them
9. Spending time with a close family in Texas.
10. Being in my own home
11. Driving on large streets
12. Being able to read AND (wait for it… wait for it…) UNDERSTAND –E-V-E-R-Y-THING!
13. Taco Bell
14. Panikin with Alyssa
15. 24 hour fitness!
16. SUNSHINE!
17. Reading at Vinaka’s
18. Church- oh how I miss my churches
19. Having friends call me.
20. How could I get this far without mentioning my adorable nephew and playing with him! A definite must!
21. Getting a Tan- or soaking up the sun with some SPF
22. Not carrying an umbrella with me wherever I go
23. TARGET!!!!
24. Jalapenos
25. Endless hours of sitting at Barnes and Nobles and browsing through endless stacks of magazines
26. Pedicures!!!
27. The drive between my home and my best friends place.
28. Spending time with the San Diegans I have met here in France but connecting back home.
29. Movies with Nicole
30. Riding bikes on at the beach
31. Hair cuts by Kali- my head is a hot mess right now
32. My dollar being worth a dollar!
33. Not questioning what the right gas is every time I put gas in the car.
34. Not being charged every time I purchase something or withdrawal money.
35. People! I am so so so excited for all the people!
36. Being able to ask questions and really understand the answers. Not just put together pieces of words and have the answers
37. Dad’s BBQ
38. Air Conditioning
39. The smell of the ocean
40. Beach sunsets
41. Stars
42. Having someone else bag my groceries
43. KPFM
44. So You Think You Can Dance as it airs, not all fuzzy, and on a large TV.
45. Chilling with my brother
46. Hanging out at the girls apartment
47. Iced Drinks
48. Not having people question me every time, wondering how my “swipping” credit card works. Or needing to convince them that is does work.
49. California Boys- mmmm
50. Just knowing that there is no place like home, and living in every blessed moment that I am able to have. And to cherish it all while re-experiencing all that is “normal” for me, that I am so fortunate to have in my life.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Slurping Down The Funds

Often it is said living in Paris is so expensive. However, in the end I am unable to give direct concrete examples of why it is so much more expensive to live here other than the typical- “to start off you have the disparity between the value of the euro and the dollar.”

Well that is all fine and well. But… unless you live with that daily disparity you might not fully grasp what this means. But alas, I have found a perfect example of one way living in France is much more expensive than living in the U.S. Or at least the value of cost and product.

The other day in the mall, my roommate had a craving for a slushy. I was convinced these didn’t even exist in France considering how hard I have to fight for a single cube of ice. But she assured me and led the way to the slushy machines.

In front of the slushy machines were the posted prices, just as you would have at your local 7/11 or AM/PM (or whatever gas station you use for your slushy fix). However, the cups were not next to the handles. You were required to first go and pay 2 euros (2.63 dollars this day) and then they handed you a cup where you could have the lady pour you, your slushy. I decided this wasn’t the day to ask her to mix the flavors.

Moi: Um… Can I have layered coke and cherry please? Thanks! That’d be great!

Their would be reaction: Ce n’est pas possible.

After paying the lady pulls out the cup and I thought it must be a joke. But instead I have a joke or riddle for you?

Q: How do you make a small car look big?

A: Put a French Slushy in front of it!


While in the U.S. for 2.50 you would be given a up about this size.



For our bargin of almost 3.00 dollars. Sarah and I were given this dainty thirst quenching size.



If only we were at yogurt land and could pay an extra 10 cents for them to “drop it” and quadruple my slushy value.

Monday, June 21, 2010

WROOOOF! WROOOF! WROOOOF!

Every so often in my blog I have referenced Kujo. But I don't believe I have ever formally introduced who Kujo is. Anyone who has seen the movie Cujo movie from the 80's might guess that I am talking about a crazy wild dog- but this has never officially been stated.

Yes Kujo is a crazy wild dog. Wild as in zealous- he has a home, and he loves to protect it. Kujo is not just any crazy wild dog- he is my crazy wild dog. Okay... not mine but my corner neighbors crazy wild dog. He is big, burly, and a beast at best. Upon first meeting Kujo I was walking in front of his home and leapt 20 feet in the air when greeted by his gnarly bark. Though he is quite intimidating, I have found a friend in Kujo. I just don’t think he has found one in me yet.

Kujo defending his turf


While his bark probably petrifies most who walk by ( and honestly still does to me) it’s a familiar sound, and I have come to enjoy this massive beast. I have fun tormenting him and tossing things out my window at him, whispering Kuuuuuujoooooooo in his yard when I walk by late at night, and that he comes back hard with a vicious bark each time. Really were buds.

About a month ago I was looking out of my window and I realized I hadn’t heard Kujo’s bark in a long time and told my roommate, “I think Kujo is gone.” She shrugged not really knowing my history with Kujo, or yet to have the opportunity to bond with the villain. Upon this realization, my heart wished my bud was not really gone. But as days passed I would see my neighbor gardening with the freedom of leaving his gate open, and in the mornings when I would look out my window I would look expectantly to see my friend… only to see his empty kennel and no Kujo in the yard. I gave up hope that I would ever see my taunting amie again.

Today while doing my dance video workout I was blasting the music and had my window open to let in a cool breeze. While mid-pirouette I heard a glorious sound:

WROOOOOOOOOOOOF WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF WROOOOOOOOOOORF!

Feeling like I was the little boy in Homeward bound when he hears Chance bark:
Start video at 4:28 for the touching moment


I leapt from my spot, bounded to the window and yelled out

"KUUUUUUUUJOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! YOU’RE BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!
I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT! If I believed you wouldn't bite me I would run down and hug you! Just like Jaimy does with Chance. But I'm not going to take that chance."

WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF

KUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUJJJOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOF WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF!

I missed you too Kujo! I missed you too!

Wroof!

The French Revolution: World Cup Style

There are riots on the streets of Paris. Okay maybe not actual riots on the streets, but the newspapers are flared up with disgrace and humiliation of the French National Teams “playing” at the world cup.

The melt down of the loyalty to the French team began after the embarrassing 0-2 loss against Mexico last week. (By the way- Mexico had TONS of spirit and fans,- but the Frenchies had stepped it up for this game too). But in the end, the French lost, Mexico won. The next day headlines read “Imposters!” and “Pathetic!” A cheek had defiantly been turned to this team.



Well if that is where the story would end with murmurs of embarrassment that would be sufficient. But when I woke up this morning I realized so much more drama has unfolded. After reading all that has happened I smiled and thought… this is so perfect and so befitting for the French World Cup experience.

A summary of what has taken place: A key French player (Nicolas Anelka) cussed out the coach (which was also a headline) (Raymond Domenech) and thus was kicked off the team and sent back to Paris. In response to losing their team member- the team decides to not practice with the training coach (Robert Duvern) on Sunday. Then the training coach yells at the team captain, which is broken up by the coach. While watching this take place the Teams Director (Jean-Louis Valentin) is furrowing his brow and decides he is fini. He throws his badge to the ground walks off the field and is on the first flight back to Paris. GASP! (Can you feel the drama)? I also imagine now Jean-Louis Valentin being seated next to Nicolas Anelka on the same flight. Buckle up folks, this might be a turbulent flight. Following the disaster unfolding on and off the field in South Africa- the most natural way to solve this problem is to have the French President step in and have his Minister of Sports talk to the team- aka knock some sense in these “Professionals.”

Why to me this is so befittingly French: Because this happens here all the time. I give you my formula in the context that has been so lovely displayed for the world.

- The Angry Catalyst (Nicolas Anelka ): Puph! (sound of the French puffing their lips) You are rude and impolite; I am going tell you exactly what I think because I am not afraid of conflict.

Warning: Though published in French Newpapers, best not to be translated


- The Instigator (Raymond Domenech): Ha! I have more power than you, I am having the higher ups get rid of you. See ya! Au Revoir!



- The Brotherhood (French Nation Team): Ce N’est pas Juste! That’s not fair.. You can’t take away our hommie- if he goes… We strike! We think you are the mole- We won’t train- You got us into this mess you traitor. I won’t kick any balls for you today!



- The guy in Charge (Jean Louis Valentin): Oh la la la la!!! If you strike- fine! You are a disgrace! I strike too and refuse to work with or for you! And I will throw my whistle as I stomp the yard.



- The Placater (The Government): OHHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOO! S’il Vous Plait Minister of Sports, this is why we have a place for you, it is our job as the government to ensure our team is alive and well down in Africa- Go and make Peace!


At the moment the French National team is in shambles. I am not sure what is going to happen between now and the game they are expected to play tomorrow night against South Africa. But have no fear- the government is on it. Hopefully the players will end their strike tomorrow. And will come together for a possibly redeeming win against South Africa.

I am curious to see how many people watch the game tomorrow- with all the upsets and embarrassments, I am not sure how many will still come out for support. But maybe if they get off the bus and start doing what they are supposed to be doing... This!



Then they might get a few fans back, and even score a goal before exiting the World Cup!

Monday, June 14, 2010

FIFA FAN FEST!

Give me an event where there are thousands of cheering fans and I am one happy person. The cheerleader in me cannot resist the opportunity to scream and shout and cheer on a team with the best of them. I become an instant number one fan of any team and the louder the crowds shout, the more energy I have to thrive upon.

I have been waiting for the world cup to start for a VERY long time. Basicially… since I arrived. I have been waiting to watch the normal contained French become exuberant and wildly passionate about their sport and team of choice. The World Cup officially started on June 11th. I planned to join all the Frenchies in watching the sport and learn what the world loves about “Football,” compared to my love of American Football.

FIFA hosting the world cup has selected 6 cities to host the FIFA Fan Fest where they place a large screen in a major park to gather large crowds together to watch the game. Paris was selected as one of the host cities this year. The location couldn’t be any better. The event takes place right off of the Trocadero. The Trocadero is genereally loved by tourist for an amazing view of you with the Tour Eiffel. Having the World Cup game played for the next month with thousands of football lovers with the Eiffel tower in the back! What more of an experience can you ask for than that?!



If you are in Paris and are able to make it- I suggest arriving early. Pack a picnic come an hour or two early and enjoy the day. We arrived about an hour and a half early and it was perfect. Starting an hour before the game- there was a host who tried to pump up the crowds. Through dances, small competitions, and shoutings of “Allez les Bleus!”

Having fun while waiting for the game to start


The FIFA Fan Fast wass filled with all of the major news broadcasters (we were interviewed- luckily Sarah knows something about soccer), thousands of people, poofs of spontaneous busts of confetti, and music to keep high energy going during the pregame waiting and halftime break.

On the stage they taught an “easy dance” to get the crowd up and moving while they played “This is Africa” one of the songs for the World Cup. When they invited the crowd to join, 5 people out of the 3,000 stood up to join. I wonder if the other three people who stood were just as embarrassed, when no one else stood, and when the music played they did a completely different dance. However, I am not on a mission to learn the moves to “Wavin Flag” and be better prepared, to help set the tone of the match.

The Goal will be go from the 5 of us who stood to getting the response this crowd had.


My favorite part of watching football with the Frenchies is being with them during the singing of their National Anthem, “La Marseillaise.” I appreciate the difference between the normally loud Americans who listen respectful to the “Star Spangled Banner.” To the typically reserved French who proudly sing or chant the first verse of their National Song. We recorded a video of this on Friday. The sound is a bit off, but watch the group of guys who have their arms wrapped around each other in camaraderie. Another one to observe is the guy pumping his fist in support of his nation and team.

video

One other fun difference between Sports in America versus here in France was the dress code. At home when going to a game I always wear a Tee Shirt or Jersey to support the team. At a Chargers game everyone is dressed in Chargers gear. Being that we were going to a Major sports game in France, my roommate and I naturally went to the store- questioned our national loyalty if we bought France National Tee Shirts but decided, “When in France… Wear France!” We bought our shirts and wore them proudly to the game.

Notice all those surrownding us and their lack of any thing resembling team spirit in their clothes.


And we were the ONLY ones proudly wearing these shirts to the game. I thought for sure I would see several people wearing my basic shirt. But no. Everyone else was wearing their regular clothes. There were a few who wore the French flag and painted their face – as in two people. And if I would have talked to them, they might have actually been American- who also made the mistake of dressing for a major sport event the same way we would back home.

But to give the French more credit than their lack of Blue attire, they did have many waving flags in support of their team. (I wonder if they sell American Flags here?) And you can see in the video of their national anthem they wave them proudly throughout the game.

While I was one of two people (the other my roommate) wearing a shirt in support of France, I think I will keep this small part of my All Americanism while watching the World Cup this year. Hopefully we can help inspire a whole new level of support and Spirit for the French National Team.

I loved the FIFA Fan Fest, I loved watching the World Cup with the French in support of their National Team, and I love that there is a whole month of football ahead to roar up a nation, and rally people together in support of something fun.


Allez Les Bleus!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Coupe du Monde 2010



Today begins the 2010 World Cup. Tonight France will be playing and I am very excited to go and watch with all the Frenchies!



Best of luck to the Frenchies (and of course the Americans!!!)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cheese Please

This week my fridge was completely barren. About half way through the week my roommate and I decided to do something about it and make a grocery list. I started the list and then handed it to her to fill in the missing list.

My list:
- Oranges
- Milk
- Eggs
- Tomatoes
- Zucchini
- Bananas
- Yogurt

When the list returned to me it looked something like this:

- Cucumber
- Apples (a few)
- Red/green pepper
- Hand soap
- Lettuce
- Cheese

Pause…

Cheese?



I hand the list back to my roommate and say,

“Iowian… do you know what country we are in?”

Iowian: “um… France?”

Me: “Yes! Exactly! Look at this list, You want me to buy Cheese? What kind of cheese lady? There are over 400 types of cheese! Do you want to buy one of every kind? Our fridge would reek.”

We shared a good laugh and then decided we wanted Brie, Camembert, Feta, and Emmental, for this weeks cheese selection. This way when we walked down the two full aisles of cheese in the super market we didn't have to pretend we were on supermarket sweep and clear all of the cheese out of the aisle- but leave a bit for the vrai frenchies to enjoy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free no more

When I arrived in France I was greeted with the wonderful youthful, energetic, buoyant, age of 24.


And now I am the old seasoned, grape dehydrated turned raisin age of 26.


Had I been in the US of A, in the land of the Free, and the land of Free refills; during this age of transition, this thought might not be so tragic or a transition at all. But because I am in the land of the free, if you are under 26- my cost of living just went up significantly.

See there is this beautiful fact in France that pretty much everything is cheaper when you are 25 or under. Free museums, discounted metro tickets, cheaper movie passes, lower priced gym memberships (the whopping bargain of 52 euros a month), and these are just to name a few. This was especially beneficial when the friends and family come to visit and I would go play tourguide for the touristos and touristas. I greatly appreicated not having to pay full price to see the same things several times. To me it helped even it out.

But alas… the joy of freeloading off the benefits of being young in Paris have dissipated. My time of gallivanting around for free or on the cheap has come to an end. I now must join the rest of the population over 25 and do the unthinkable… but to pay the Adult price.

Ugh.

They can take away my youthful discounts, but they can never take away my yooooooouth!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another Birthday Away

On May 31st I threw myself into a mini pity party. A wallow of self-depravity that I am so capable of doing when I am tired and missing my friends. This was spurred by my 15 days of constant work and travel. And then encouraged by that fact of knowing that in a few short hours I would be turning another year older, in a foreign country another year without my friends and family around. Yes I have new friends here, but when events like my birthday arrive- I naturally pull to wanting to be stateside.

However- yesterday was an wonderful day! I never cease to be amazed at how many people take the time to wish you a happy birthday when you are away from home. And the extra effort people here make to make you feel like you are at home. I had a simple day- but filled with many facebook greetings of Happy Birthdays, a few cards from loved ones at home, and an amazing dinner with people I have come to know here.

Thank you for all who made not just my birthday special but every other day in between. That’s the greatest gift a girl could wish for.