Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sun! Sand! Grand Prix! Sleeping in the trunk!

Well, we definitely made the most out of our all-too-brief roadtrip. And now I'm back in the freezing and comparitively monochromatic Parisian landscape, with little to show for it but a vague tan line, a jar of wild blackberry jam and the invisible but nevertheless intense desire to abandon all my studies and flee breathlessly to the south, happily living out my days somewhere on the Cote d'Azur.
The only true shame of the trip was that I ate virtually no good food. In my book that is a sin.

In related news, many pictures are newly up on Flickr, including about 85 from the trip. More trip pictures very soon to follow, from the respective cameras of Karl and Beppe.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Le Road Trip

Four of us embark this afternoon southward, to the land of beaches and millions of like-minded French. We hope to get to Marseille, maybe a 7 hour drive, and we also might stopover in Lyon on the way down or back to catch part of this big music thing (I get the impression it leans more to the side of party than festival), but really we have no solid plan... we'll see where the road takes us.
Photo documentation soon to come.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Life is good.

I'm so happy to be here!!!!!!!!

Motley Crew

From left: Nicolas, Olivier, Mario, Vanessa, me, Young Sun, chef Clement, Su Youn, Arielle, Rose Marie and Kevin.

Dinner, lunch and snackage lately

A darned good pasta salad.
Why doesn't every pickle and olive jar on the planet have one of these things??
Breaded chicken, couscous and haricots verts.
Pigeon by the Food Regeneration class.
Family dinner, with burgers.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Top fives from the past week or so

Recently learned French words or phrases:
1. Qui ressemble s'assemble- lit. "those who resemble assemble" (as may be gathered from the clear similarity)
2. raplapla- very tired, or very thin
3. patte de mouche- lit. "fly leg," equivalent to "chicken scratch" (handwriting)
4. bien arrosé- lit. "well watered," meaning an event had lots of drinking/drunkeness there
5. coquin(ne)- defined on Wordreference as naughty, risqué, scallywag... but defined by my classmates more as a flirty person-- but in a more negetive sense. Not fully equal to sleazy. Partly defined by touchy-feelyness.
Favorite stuff tasted at school:
1. chouquettes, my class
2. lamb chop by the food regeneration class
3. curried breaded pig's foot (?) galette from the charcuterie class
4. sables aux noix, my class
5. gougères, my class
Most fun things:
1. Friday night
2. hamburger dinner here Monday night
3. relentless war of teasing (in good fun) with my buddy Mario in class
4. improving my ability to relentlessly tease in French
5. watching on French TV a recording of Queen playing Wembley Stadium sometime in the late 80's, and then being humbled by the fact the Italians here knew many of the songs better than me
Worst things:
1. very uncomfortable bed coupled with weird French pillows
2. ipod died
3. very little sun
4. news from afar of Bush's continued misadventures
5. right in a row: a 4 year old boy was abducted, then found raped and killed in the woods, and a 6 year old girl was also abducted and found dead. This was elsewhere in the country.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Out on the town

We went out at painted the town a bit on Friday, which was the first time we've done so in Paris. We're having a good time here with our new roommates-- making dinner together, hanging out, watching French-dubbed movies on TV, speaking a lot of French.
I'm improving my French a lot, but I know I need to study and actually try harder to really take it up another level. And living with people my age is enabling me to learn more, uh, colorful expressions than proper speech, of course. That, too, is a very important component of attaining fluency-- yet that is not to say that I am in any way nearing that level. I am starting to be able to interpret overheard interactions for which I don't fully know the context in advance, I'm understanding French TV and movies better (recently watched As Good as it Gets, Back to the Future III, part of Dr. Doolittle with Eddie Murphy, and various MTV trash), and there are times at school where I can almost be on autopilot in terms of interpreting the teacher and responding accordingly. I'm starting to notice there are times where I go beyond understanding the gist of what someone is saying, but actually hear each word. As some of you are aware, this is no small feat in French, the language of a jazillion articles, pronouns, etc. I found someone's very illuminating piece about French fluency here which talks about cultural perception, linguistics, expressions, etc. Picked up quite a few useful things from it, as well as some interesting (if at times tedious) history.
Continuing to work on my Italian, but I feel it's an uphill battle at best. When I listen to my roommates, it may as well be Martian for all I can tell. Watched Italian TV today for a while, but it was barely any better. It's too damned fast! It seems many Italians I talk to are happy to help yet at the same time mildly discouraging of learning the language, which they say is both difficult and not terribly useful to know in the world. Though true that may be, I'm not giving up just yet.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I smell like fish fumet-- and that's not really a good thing

Cuisine class is ok, even if not tremendously enlightening for me. We've made white and brown veal and chicken stocks, veal and chicken jus (think almost like a demi but with nothing at all but browned meat), fish fumet, a bunch of (frequently mayonnaise-y) vegetable salads, poached salmon which we'll deal with tomorrow somehow, etc etc. By the end of the week we will also have made quiche, various soups and consomme. The teacher is pretty much the highlight of the class, who is very jokey and lowkey, and winking at everyone all the time. And it's nice to work with some meat and vegetables for a change.

Below, my Nid de Poireaux (Nest of Leeks) topped with crab dressed with sauce aurore, plated up in a typically cheesy manner (of my own volition, actually). It was really good... we got to eat them for lunch.

Holy gaping salmon maw!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Long weekend

Seen 2 really nice markets this weekend, one across town, the other a 5 minute walk from home. Posted those photos along with many others on Flickr-- I have nearly 500 up now!
Ironically I have been working on Italian this weekend as opposed to French. Met both a French woman who is fluent in Italian and a guy from Rome (seperately) for language exchanges, which went well. It's incredible how much Italian I have forgotten, but at the same time I remember a respectable amount. It was extremely hard for me to not speak French when I was trying to speak Italian! I made a tremendous amount of mistakes by trying to bastardize French grammer and vocabulary into Italian form. I hope that says good things about my advancements in the French department, at least.
May is chock full of holidays here. We had May Day last week, this Monday we have Armistice Day, and then in a week or two it's Ascension, which apparently dictates 2 days off. It's nice I guess to not have to wake up early and all, but I'm somewhat restless as it is, so another whole day off slightly exacerbates the problem. And yet on the other hand the next two weeks are cuisine (ie cooking), which to my understanding means a lot of basic knife skills stuff. Call me crazy, but I'm none too keen on tournee-ing and brunoise-ing vegetables from 8 to 4:30. I suppose the school holidays could easily be spent laboring over my French and Italian studies...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tour of our room

At night we can see the sparkle from the Eiffel Tower's lights reflected in the windows across the way.

Photos- bigger, better!! And Skype!

I swallowed the fee for a "pro" Flickr account, so I now have a TON more photos up, including all the New York ones I stole from Maggie, and some slightly better organization. Check out the zillion new pictures from classes-- and yes, I did get to devour that buffet by the cocktail party class :)
In other news, we finally bought a mic for the computer, so our Skype is up and running. For those that do not know about Skype, check it out here. It's great!! You can call us on there (free for us both!), AND we soon hope to also set up SkypeIn, which means you can call us at a Minneapolis (for example) number from your land/cell line. Our username is "Juliette Lelchuk Ryan Parsons." We also have voicemail on there.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lower West Side

So, we're settled into our new place, a large, slightly rundown apartment in a quiet part of the 16th arrondissement. We live with 4 Italians (though 2 move out on Sunday), an American guy, and a British girl. And there is supposed to be a Taiwanese girl too, but apparently she paid and never showed up-- over two weeks ago. It's a nice environment here, with a very communal student-y feeling. Ryan is actually the oldest of the lot, winning him the title (well, according to me) of Grandpa Parsons.
We explored a little bit of the Chinatown area in the 13th on Tuesday, which was pretty cool but unfortunately pretty out of the way in relation to us. We bought a load of Asian pantry staples and made a huge Thai dinner for the house, which was good to us but a bit too brutal, spicy-wise, for a few people. That's an especially nice thing about this house-- on most nights everyone eats dinner together (our bedroom doubles as the dining room). We're finally getting some past-due social contact, and an equally needed extra helping of French practice seeing as how half of the people living here are studying French and 2 of the Italians don't speak much english.
This week at school has draaaagged on, despite the fact that it was extra short. I made a pretty cool big ol' decorated bread today: