Good vittles, love, and kissing…
There are a few things that are harder to find here than at home, and that I find myself pining for every once in a while. A lot of them surprise even me!
- Tex-Mex: One of the few cuisines that is easier to find in the US than in France. (By the way, did you know France has the Lebanese restaurant market pretty much cornered? It’s great for me, a falafel-addict). I need a burrito- STAT.
- Vegan cheese and mayo: France rightly takes a lot of pride in some specific dairy products (i.e. cheese) and any attempt to change it up a bit is SQUASHED. At least i assume that’s why I can find no vegan cheese (or ice cream for that matter). And I guess they’re also pretty partial to traditional mayo methods? I guess they did invent mayonnaise… right? I feel like I learned that from a pirates of the Caribbean blooper. On the other hand, they’re vegan yogurt here is SO MUCH BETTER. Apparently their non-vegan yogurt is also better (I have been told).
- Body oil: I’m on the hunt for some combined body and hair oil, but I haven’t been looking hard enough. Really this is about me missing my big Target/Stop & Shop/ Walgreen’s superstores, where you can find anything under the sun, except under very unflattering fluorescent lights. I think I need a trip to Monoprix.
- Consignment stores: Paris and France in general has great vintage shops, but what I’m really in need of is some bulky lightly used knitwear. Particularly of the turtleneck variety. Having worn through two beige turtlenecks in quick succession, I’m finding the cozy side of my wardrobe uncomfortably diminished. Also consignment is just how I’m used to shopping.
- Some hipster earthy crunchy ingredients: This is probably just because I don’t know how to say nutritional yeast or vital wheat gluten in French.
- Thanksgiving: Instead the French celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau day, which is like this weird wine-Octoberfest. Yeah, I don’t know either.
- Watching the news: Although when my hosts have the French radio is on it is so often about Trump and it’s so cringe-y.
- Saturday Night Live: SNL WHY are your youtube videos NOT AVAILABLE in this COUNTRY!?
And lots more, but that’s all that’s leaping to mind at the moment!
*On a similar note to the very narrow interpretation of certain dairy products, the French are also very specific about the things that you can and can’t do with grapes. Like you can drink wine or you can eat fresh grapes. There are no raisins here. Other dried fruit yes, but no raisins. And no grape jelly. Even though that’s the American staple jelly. But I don’t miss these things because I’m not a big fan of raisins and because I’ve already written about HOW MANY EXCITING JELLIES THERE ARE HERE. Next up: rhubarb.
What’s happening with me right now?
- Reading (book): I’m two days and two chapters into Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve missed reading over the last month. We’ll see how long it lasts.
- Reading (poetry): Weirdly obsessed with Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality right now.
- Watching: I have to admit that I’ve been watching Game of Thrones to tranquilize my brain. I just finished season one.
- Listening: I’ve been playing Aicha by Cheb Khaled pretty much every day on the way to school.
- Eating: For breakfast, the pudding-like French soy yogurt in either pistachio or hazelnut-almond flavors, bread with doing jam, and fruit. For lunch, pesto, vegetables, and couscous. For dinner, vegetables and some protein type thing. Or my squash tofu curry.
Much as I’m loving living in France, there are some things that just aren’t the same and that give me a little ache when I think about them. This variety of homesickness is a lot less all-encompassing than the kind I had to deal with when I turned up at Yale four years ago (couldn’t tell you why), but for whatever reason this transition has felt much easier.
I do of course have thoughts about why, but that’s a topic for another day.
In the meantime, I’ve been finding it interesting to consider what it is I miss most about home (not necessarily America, but my own life there) and how there are some senses that are missing America more than others. Oddly, I feel like what I’m missing most are specific sounds, more than sights or smells or even tastes (though taste is a close second).
- Autumn color. Take it from an entitled North East girl who has spent all of her autumns surrounded by yellows and golds and oranges and reds. You definitely miss it. Leaves turn yellow and brown here- which is quite pretty- and you get the snow-like leaf shedding in the wind that I love so much, but the wonderland created by the other colors is just missing. Sighing for maples.
- Giant supermarkets. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll choose France’s small stores and open air markets over a Costco or Stop&Shop any day, but there is something oddly compelling (and reassuring) about that almost inappropriate abundance.
- Canada geese
- Sirens. The sirens here sound different and much more musical. I miss our sinister alarms.
- Blasting reggaeton. There are not enough people blasting reggaeton from car windows here. Though mercifully there are more than none.
- English. Hearing people speaking your own language as you walk around. You don’t realize how subconsciously comforting it is until everyone around you is speaking French.
- There isn’t anything tactile at home that I can’t as easily palpate in Versailles, except maybe my bed. It’s very easy to miss your bed.
- Not anything really. The thing about perfume school is that your nose gets plenty of exercise and novelty.
- Good lord home-cooked food. I miss it so much. I am cooking for myself here, but not any of the larger and more time-consuming recipes I would undertake at home. Partly because I’m sharing a kitchen with a host family. Partly because vegan ingredients are harder to find in these parts. Like the French don’t do vegan cheese. Why would they? Their cheese is a national treasure. But Dad’s pizza? My banana bread? Chickpea cutlets? Cornbread? So many foods.
And of course I didn’t list anything relating to the people and animals I miss. Beings are amalgamations of so many senses. The feeling of a hug or of soft cat fur. Every person and animal’s individual smell and the sound of their voice…
Apologies for the spurious posting but really in a #sorrynotsorry kind of way because I’m in France living my busiest and #bestlife.
I’ll stop with the hashtags now because I’m quickly losing all self respect.
Heyyy, today’s my first day of grad school at ISIPCA! Who’s panicking? (Low key, me). But it’s a stretch even calling it a day at school. We have an informational meeting at 2:30 and then a big mingle from 5:30 on. Tomorrow is the real deal (taking place from the very reasonable 9:30-5:30, with about an hour break for lunch)(High school break was 28 minutes, 22 if you cut out the three minute passing periods on either side).
This is also the latest in the year that I’ve ever not been in school- for approximately my entire life.
So I’ve been in this beautiful country for about a week and a half and there are so many things to talk about! It’s amazing and beautiful and entirely new!
I’m looking forward to documenting it and writing about it and sharing it, but first I think I’m going to start on a slightly more personal note, which will be a few of my ‘misadventures’ or other weird experiences, thus far. Continue reading “La Vie en Rose #1: Misadventures”
It would have been great if I had managed to get this post up before buying and carrying around my first baguette, because that would have been on the list.
But I took my baguette on its maiden voyage a few hours ago, and in the interest of journalistic integrity I am unwilling to pretend otherwise.
But there are a few other things that seem like essential ‘living in France rites of passage’. Continue reading “Versailles Checklist: Being a French Basic”