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.
This week is my first vacation from perfumery school at ISIPCA, and it feels somewhat undeserved but I’ll take it. Especially because Lily is visiting me from the states.
We’re back in Versailles now, but over the weekend we explored Normandy/the North coast of France.
Including: Rouen (with the cathedral made famous by Claude Monet, also location of the trial and execution of Jeanne d’Arc- did you know the tower where her trial was held is now an escape room?), Omaha Beach, Mont-St-Michel, and, on the way back, Giverny (absolutely beautiful in Autumn- we were lucky enough to get there during one of the last few days of the season, and the day before the first hard frost).
And I’m realizing I’m super into traveling. Because I’m in Europe and not only am I super close to Paris, but I’m also super close to all of these places I haven’t been before.
Also inspired by seeing the photos from the travels of my fellow students, who are spread around in the south of France (Marseille and elsewhere), Luxembourg, London, Burgundy, and Florence.
Destinations appealing to me?
- Morocco: Morocco (along with India) has been one of my top destinations for years. It’s particularly on my mind now because a) it’s closer and b) Hyun just visited and it’s beautiful with colors and camels and sand.
- So many more places in Italy: I would love to see Milan, Rome, Florence, Pisa, and more of Tuscany. Even in spite of the tourist-ness I fell in love with the magic that was Venice. Can you imagine staying in Tuscany and doing work during harvest time? I had a friend do that. So cool.
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Amsterdam, Netherlands: Because I need another association other than our luggage being lost there during a layover when I was eight. (We got it back eventually). Also the tulip fields, once the season is right.
- Switzerland: Particularly the Alps. Can I just say how into the Bernina Express train journey I would be? So into it.
- Spain: I may visit my grandparents soon, who live near Madrid. I haven’t visited them in Spain since I was seven. Other places in Spain I want to see? Barcelona, Valencia, and Andalusia. Also wherever it is that has the most dangerous hiking trail in the world.
- Malta: Warm-ish islands.
- Budapest, Hungary
- Galway, Ireland
- Elsewhere in France: The chateaux, Nice, Toulouse, Cannes, Grasse, Lyon, and Marseille.
Lily and I are in the north of France!
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…
I spent yesterday in Paris and I have to say that it was truly one of the best days I have had on four hours of sleep (the other one being that time our flight to Florida was delayed but we still spent the whole next day at MGM/Disney Studios Hollywood/whatever they’re calling it now).
So the agenda was as follows:
- I went in around 11:30 am, got in a bit after noon and went to the Grand Palais to see the Irving Penn photography exhibit that I missed when it was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was really excellent and I’m very glad that I went. I kind of glided over the photography I was less interested in (the close up portraits of cigarette butts, for example) but I was really into the portraits of artists (Colette! Joan Didion! Always DTF Truman Capote!) and the beautiful nudes (which Facebook subsequently made me take down (free the nipple)).
- After about an hour and a half with Irving Penn, I met Luis (a fellow ISIPCA student) and had a very refreshing Perrier while he had lunch.
- And then we went to the Le Grand Musee du Parfum, which was super cool and overlapped a lot with things we’re learning in school- particularly the historical aspects. It helps that the professor who went through perfume history with us is on the artistic board/board of directors/I’m not sure what for the museum.
- The gift shop had some lovely smelling opportunities, which were continued when we visited Jovoy, a niche-oriented perfume shop that wasn’t too far away. Another student (Oliver) met up with us there. (My favorite thing I tried was Romanza by Masque Milano, but I already new I’m very into it, so no big new discoveries.
- We went back to Gare St Lazare, stopped at Jo Malone on the way to try to get Luis a sample or Orris & Sandalwood, failed, and then made the trip home to Versailles.
I did something kind of dumb- which is, having never had a Tinder in America, I created a profile when I got to France.
It’s been a good way to practice French, truthfully, but also I’m learning (and noticing) some odd things. Fill me in- what’s normal for Tinder and which of these are weird specific to a 40 km radius of Versailles?
- I’ve learned a lot of great but not widely applicable/appropriate words and phrases. Some favorites:
Enculer- to ass fuck
Je te mange le cul- I can eat your ass.
- A guy named Adrien who looks weirdly like Adrien Brody.
I do not mind.
- A lot of Yankees hats.
I DO mind.
- A good number who are mutual friends with friends of mine from college and even high school. It’s a small world after all.
- The stereotypical douchebag look (lots of squinting, a fair amount of pouty lips and duck face, etc.) is alive and well across the Atlantic.
- Someone who said their favorite things are penguins and waffles. Am ready to marry.
- Too much facial hair. Although I do understand this is a matter of opinion.
- A lot of people from this Middle East. I think because I am closer to the Middle East here.
- A lot of guys giving health advice in there profiles. Like “Eat healthfully and live well, strawberries are good for the stomach.”
- So much smoking. So much for living healthfully and strawberries.
- A lot of guys named Quentin…?
- Speaking of names… I never realized there were so many Thibaults. I dig it.
- Also a lot of Mehdis.