Friday, October 28, 2011

Notes from les Vacances

Here's what has been happening this week:

1. As I said before, it's the "holidays," which are really just for the schoolchildren. Holidays are obviously the opposite for the parents. Anyway, it hasn't been too terrible, although yesterday both l'enfant and I were terribly whiny in the afternoon, and there was definitely a moment when I thought I was going to lose it. He definitely has some sort of OCD, which the mom readily admits is from her. Well, he hates it when his toys don't all fit on the rug in his room, and freaks out. So that's always fun. And then later we were out with his slippers on. Luckily he told us before we got on the bus. Yikes! I blamed it on lack of caffeine.

2. The weather here has gotten nicer. It's been generally 40s at night, high 50s/low 60s during the day. Pleasant, fall weather. Oddly enough, it seems as though yesterday all the leaves started changing. There's still a ton of green around, and I know the leaves don't look like they do in the states even when they do change, but it finally feels like mid-autumn.

3. I started doing "real errands" this week. I had to buy shampoo and conditioner, which was tricky, since advertising words are generally not in my everyday vocab. I did find the right stuff, but then I needed new face wash, and I definitely didn't buy what I wanted. It had the word "lait," which means milk, on the bottle and it was "bio" (organic), so I thought it was made with milk? But no, it's like...milky, so it doesn't foam or scrub the way I wanted it to. Live and learn.

4. I also just got my carte bleue from my new bank. Here the debit/credit situation is always together, so I can start spending money right away, and then it gets taken out of my account the following month. You can also have "authorized overdrafts." I just need to REALLY pay attention to this, because I am not especially good at budgeting. Taking copious notes.

5. Starting to plan out my travels. Going to visit Britain at the end of November, and also planning a trip to Brussels for a day on November 12. Brussels is only an hour and a half away, so we're going to do first train out, last train back, and save ourselves the hostel cost. Had a night this week where my host parents plied me with cheese and told me everywhere to go. Now my list includes: Bretange, Normandie (Mont-St-Michel), Rennes (in Champagne), la Cote d'Azur (which is apparently the Florida of France, to the French), Madrid, Barcelona, Roma, Florence (they think I should skip Venice this time around), Amsterdam....etc.

6. Still haven't found a cheese I dislike. On the aforementioned evening, there were 5 cheeses involved:
-Neufchâtel: completely unlike its American counterpart, Neufchâtel is made in Normandie, and it's a very old cheese (not aged, but has been around for a long time). It's shaped like a heart, and is more Brie-like in its consistency, but also very salty. Yum.
-Gouda: a 2-year-old, bright orange Gouda. It was nothing like the smoked Gouda in the States. It was very hard and dry, and the rind looked like a rock. It was more like a dry sharp cheddar, and it was baller. I preferred it without baguette.
-Brie de Melun: considered one of the best Bries, it's made in Paris and is like the "granddaddy" of all Bries. It's delicious and funky and wow.
-Comté: this is like, basic French cheese, but we got this kind that had been aged and then cut into thin thin pieces and was shaped like flowers. It was gorgeous, and delicate, and soooo delicious.
-Chevre: but it wasn't the chevre from the States, again. It was pyramid shaped, with a flat top, and it was greenish. Inside it was almost flaky and so mild. Very delicious with the bread.

7. I bought a pumpkin from the primeur, which is the fruit/veg shop that gets shipments every day from farmers. It's the best for when you can't get to a market. Anyway, it's pretty, and it was 6 euros, which is comparable to pumpkins in Brooklyn (though not in the real USA). Sunday I'm going to carve it with friends, and we're going to attempt to cook the seeds using the stove, since almost no one has a real oven. Also, I'm debating making caramel dip for apples. Party.

That's enough updates for now. I have a break because grandparents are here, and so I'm chilling. Going to go eat some lunch, and then my little apartment is messy as all get-out, due to me being lazy. It's airing right now, with the big windows open. My room gets stuffy after a day with the radiator on and me gone. Gross.

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