Taking walks is a huge part of the culture here, in France. It’s the cutest thing to see all of the old people on their walks, or biking with their significant others. Everyone drives in Seattle, but here no one seems to mind taking the longer distance. I’m not sure that I’m onboard with the idea of two walks per day (I love walks, but maybe not that much), but I love grabbing my camera and taking some shots with the kids while we’re out and about.
Yesterday was the first day that I watched the kids, alone. All three of them. It was pretty hectic, I’m not going to lie. They are all extremely high energy, and the semi-barrier of language made communicating with them a little hard, all around. But aside from them trying to kill each other over UNO and rugby tackling during soccer, it was fun to be able to paint, play some soccer (aka football) and get out of the house.
My favorite part of yesterday was stopping to find time to look some insects. I know it sounds frightfully interesting, of course. But I definitely took some videos of flys (which allow you to get SO CLOSE, here) and some photos, also. After we went to the park, we also found a little flower garden where there were tons of bumble bees (an American name which the kids thought was HILARIOUS), and as the kids found the biggest ones, I hopped around on my camera trying to get the best shots of the fearless insects. Here are some of the fruits of this labor, and some other adventures from yesterday:
Like any given Sunday in the life of moi, this morning I went to church. Being a Christian, and it being Sunday, that fact is a fairly unexciting statistic. But, what made today different, was that “going to church” meant going into a gigantic medieval style stone structure filled marble carved statues (we’re talking 8-10 feet high, including a skeleton reaper which is #hellapunk) in a small French town. Oh, and that it was Catholic. Which I am not.
Now you may think there would be some cultural differences for an American Protestant girl who ducked her way into a party where no one speaks her exact verbal or spiritual language, and you would be right. But overall I felt incredibly refreshed by the experience. The reason I was there in the first place was because it’s the only church within 30 miles of where I live. Not gonna lie – the lack of options is kind of a bummer.
The church service was as traditional and conservative as you could probably find anywhere, complete with a pipe organ and higher than usual pitched singing. It reminded me of church coronations/marriage scenes from Elizabeth or Ever After. But, overall I loved the service. It was pieced together with biblical scriptures and interval hymns (In French, of course, which was amazing) and I loved that it constantly engaged those who were there to worship.
Afterward, I stopped by the flower shop across the street and bought a little purple flower bush to bring some life to my room. It worked. I’m so much happier seeing my little plant ward every time I walk in the door. It really is just the best for someone, like me, who is obsessed with the natural world.
The final excitement for the day happened when I logged in to my favorite websites, Hulu and Netflix, to relax for the evening. Then, to my utter astonishment, from BOTH websites, I was told that they did not work within the country I was operating. As in – there was NO Netflix, Hulu or Pandora in THIS WHOLE COUNTRY. Try to grasp my horror. It was quite severe and really couldn’t have been worse. I’m not ashamed to say it, I adore all of these websites, and being able to relax and watch a movie is essential to bringing together my feeling of home.
I’m starting to realize more than ever that, sometimes it’s the littlest things that make home feels like home. Like Netflix. Or a random little shrub in your room.
I am sorry to sound like a spoiled American brat, but when I first found out I would have no access to Netflix, Hulu or Pandora I was pretty seriously considering booking it out of France…ok, so I wasn’t, but I was pretty upset. I don’t have many of my movies with me here in France, so it’s really important to have these resources. Would I die without them, no. Would I be a lot less happy about life? Yes. LUCKILY, I have amazing friends who let me in on the secret of Chromzising websites and making them work with Hola. I couldn’t be more happy.
Today has been a full and relaxing day, overall. I actually had the guts to tell my host family I didn’t want to go with them, the kids and their grandparents to the park, a decision which needed to be made since it’s my day off and they keep trying to “include me” on these days – which is nice…but I’ll be with the kids this week 7am-7pm every day (school doesn’t start until next week) so I think I’ll have quite enough kid time for the week without going out on my day off. Instead I stayed home and wrote letters to any and everyone I could think of. I ran out of postcards, but I plan on getting more on my next trip outside this petit-chateau.
Also, if you’ve asked me to send you a letter/postcard please please be patient. I’m mailing out the first bunch today, but there are still some people I’ve missed that will have to go out the next time I have the courage to go into the post office and ask for stamps.
Today was pretty magical. And even though I’m tired from running around, the fact that I’m tired from running around inside of castles makes the fatigue bearable.The castle pictured is the Castle (or Château) of Sully-Sur-Loire and was a medieval fortress for generations of Dukes in this area of France. I would go on and on about my day, but since a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’ll let you see the results, instead.
Ok, let’s talk food. Because I live in France now – what else would we be talking about. Since I have arrived there are several things I’ve eaten that I had no idea what they were. In fact, I would say I don’t know what most of my diet is right now. What I do know, is that everything is so good, and smells so good. I can’t even believe how fast the mom for the family whips out these amazing dishes for just a random Wednesday afternoon. But, it’s France – maybe that’s normal.
A lot has happened since I arrived here yesterday, and I’m sure a lot more will be happening, but since I want to make sure I cover everything I’m going to talk about things individually in separate posts throughout the week.
So, let’s talk French food:
Things I’ve eaten since getting here:
1. Tomates Farcies
Sweet Jesus take the wheel, this picture does nothing justice, but last night I ate a variation of Tomates Farcies which is basically tomatoes (and also onions) stuffed with ground hamburger/pork and spices and baked. It was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t believe I’d never eaten it before! Here’s a link to a French recipe (feel free to translate the website by copy and pasting the URL into google translate) more similar to the one I ate, and heres the link to an American variation. Try it out for dinner – you won’t regret it!!
2. Pork Pate
Oh, yes oh yes, the ground up canned rumors are true. Today I ate Pork Pate and it was so good. If you’re looking for an indicator for what it’s like, think canned tuna meets canned cat foot. Delicious, and completely disgusting looking, it’s a must have item for this French family and I love it.
3. Fish Cake
Looks like a banana or zucchini bread, tastes like a grilled tuna sandwich and all around amazing. This is what is known as a Fish Cake (ou Un gâteau au poisson et petits legumes) and yes, it has actual fish in it. Not going to lie, at first I was more than a little unsure about whether or not eating this would be a good life decision. It SO was.
Have you ever had bread that was fresh baked from the French bakery three doors down from your house? If yes, then you know that even thinking about it is enough to make your mouth water. Something I love about the family I’m living with is that they eat bread, bread and more bread. They eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And even when the main course is bread, there’s still bread on the side. It’s incredible. And an absolutely necessary staple to every meal.
5. Cured Ham:
I don’t actually eat pork, normally. But, since others are cooking, and I’m in France, I’ve decided to make an exception. It was the right decision. This morning we went to the shop across the street and bought some fresh cut ham from a shop that was absolutely darling (like every shop here). One thing that’s nice about this town (but will probably, at some point, also become frustrating) is that there’s not really any such thing as a chain store. This city is a Seattleite’s dream because everything is run by a small business owner. C’est parfait.
My first question when this was put on a plate in front of me was: Do I eat it with my hands, or with a fork? The answer, of course, was: Only Americans eat this with their hands. Okay. I’m very lucky I ask more than the average amount of questions, because I feel like there are so many problems that could have already happened without them. But, back to food. This sandwich was out of this world and even though I had it without cheese (because I’m allergic) it was amazing.
Fun Story: When I told my host family that I couldn’t eat cheese, they were stunned. It was as though I told them I was actually missing the right half of my body. All they could say was: Well…we eat a lot of cheese.
C’est la vie.
Stay tuned for more yummy updates!
*All food photos are gratefully borrowed from the Google gods – all rights belong to their original owners.