November 30, 2010

How To.... Make French Thanksgiving!

I celebrated Thanksgiving with FBF and his mom last Wednesday. I did it a day early because I work all day on Thursdays, and I wanted enough time to cook everything!

I am at an advantage in that I brought American measurement utilities with me (cups and teaspoons/tablespoons). I also counted some things in grams.

Here are the recipes for Le Stuffing, La Purée Americaine, and Les Hauricots Verts:

Thanksgiving à la française

Because I have access to an entire Kitchen this year, complete with such marvelous culinary appliances such as an oven, mixers, and blenders, I decided to make Thanksgiving dinner for FBF and his maman (mom).

I avoided serving turkey as I am a vegetarian, but I did prepare three Thanksgiving dinner dishes that I adore. I made green bean casserole, twice mashed potatoes, and good old fashioned stuffing.

You can find my recipes for these delicious Thanksgiving dishes here!

Not only was it my first time cooking any of these dishes, but being in France and not America, I had to make substitutions for certain ingredients.

I was extremely nervous about the entire endeavor, as it was the first time I cooked for La Maman.

Although they found the dishes and the ingredients to be unusual, both FBF and La Maman liked it. They each grabbed seconds!

The next day, la soeur de FBF (FBF’s sister) came over and they ate the leftovers without me (I was at work).

When she asked how it was, FBF had this to say about the stuffing, “Nous, on ne cuit pas le pain, donc on a trouvé bizarre de le voir faire, mais on a été agréablment surpris par le goût.” (We don’t normally cook bread, so it was weird to watch her cook it, but we were happily surprised by how good it tastes!)

November 29, 2010

La Première Pub Google en France

Google aired their first pub (commercial) in France ever last night. It was on TF1 at around 20h44. It came on just before Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis was (also) aired for the first time ever on regular télé.

Google did an excellent job relating their ad with the film, focusing on the culture and language of le Nord. Check it out!

La première pub de google en France! Vive le Nord!

After watching the ad, I was proud to live in le ch'nord (even if it is 2 below freezing outside). I am also wondering how much FBF really cares about me, seeing as he's never taken me on a romantic walk in Cap Blanc-Nez.

November 27, 2010

Chaussures d'été

On Fridays I have the pleasure of being driven to school instead of having to take the train. It’s faster, which means I get to sleep in, and it’s also cheaper, saving me money. All in all I try to covoitureage (carpool) as often as I can.

Before getting ready for the day, I made FBF check the weather report, and as it said it wasn’t going to rain, I decided to give my boots a rest. I went for my new dark red converse that I bought especially for France. Knowing that it was going to be cold, I layered up on the socks.

Despite the extra sock layer, my feet were still cold. And since Vincent, the teacher who picks me up, was dressed very warmly, the heat wasn’t on very high in the car.

Although it wasn’t supposed to rain in Lille, it was definitely raining in Lievin, were my lycée is. There was also snow on the ground. After commenting about how pretty the snow made the countryside along the drive to school, Vincent noticed my shoes.

“Tu n’a pas froid aux pieds avec ces chaussures?” (Your feet aren’t cold with those shoes?)

“Euh… oui, un peu,” (Uuh.. yeah, a little) I confessed.

After turning up the heat and focusing it on our feet, Vincent said, “Tu n’as pas des chaussures plus chaudes que ça? Les chaussures comme ça sont pour l’éte.” (You don’t have warmer shoes than those? Shoes like that are for the summer).

In order to stop myself from laughing, I began explaining about my boots. I couldn’t help but thinking that in California the only summer shoes are sandals and flip flops, and anything you have to tie is just all together too much trouble.

My "summer time" shoes.

November 22, 2010

Harry Potter et les Reliques de la Mort

I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Knowing that I would be in France when the first half of the seventh movie came out, I packed my hard cover copy of book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I also packed my hand made Ravenclaw Hogwart’s uniform to wear to the movie.

For reasons unknown, the film comes out in France a week later than in the rest of the world (not until the 24th of November!). At first this bummed me out, but then I remembered that Belgium is next door. The movie came out the 17th in Beligum, and I made FBF take me.

We went to Tournai, an adorable town about 30 minutes away. We had bought our tickets online, and had no trouble getting in to the theater and finding good seats.

My movie ticket!

After procuring seats, FBF and I were going to take turns going to the bathroom before the movie. FBF went first and announced that the “toilettes sont payant. Ils coutent quarante centimes” (you have to pay 40 cents to use the bathrooms).

Hating having to pay to pee, especially when I’ve already paid to enter the establishment and use their facilities, I decided to just hold it for the duration of the movie plus the ride home.

I was a little heartbroken to discover that I was the only one dressed up for the occasion. Sure, I had given FBF my spare Slytherine tie, but he was embarrassed because nobody else was in costume. Nevertheless, I didn’t let the lack of other people’s enthusiasm ruin mine.

The lights dimmed, and the WB logo appeared on the screen. In true fan fashion, I cheered for the start of the movie! Nobody else did. I was met mostly with people laughing at me.

Now due to the week-long delay of the release of the movie in France combined with the fact that the French hate subtitles, we figured we’d be getting to see the movie in English with French subtitles. However, the movie was dubbed in French. I now have no idea as to why the French are so behind the times as far as HP7 is concerned.

Despite not understanding every single word, I was enjoying the film. I was in the action. I was lost in the world of Harry Potter, and only slightly annoyed at the million things they had gotten wrong, when the projection started acting weird and going black. Thinking that something was wrong, I was concerned while simultaneously thinking that they’d better get it to work again really soon and give me some sort of refund for ruining my experience, when one of the theater’s employees walked in the room. “Mesdames, Messeiurs, on vend la glace!” (Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re selling icecream!)

I was shocked. They had interrupted the movie on purpose. To sell ice cream. When it’s 40 degrees outside.

This wasn’t a short little blip. It wasn’t a technical error. It was planned. It lasted 15 minutes.

Yes, Belgian movie theaters have an intermission.

November 17, 2010

Noël en Octobre

My first trip to Carrefour this year was in the middle of October, and it seemed as if nothing much had changed. The bread was still in the back, the electronics and appliances on the right, and the vegetables and milk products in the middle.

Deciding I needed a boutielle de vin rouge (a bottle of red wine) to celebrate being once again in the country of cheap, delicious wine, I marched over to the wine aisle thinking I knew the place pretty well.

The alcohol side of Carrefour.

I was mistaken. Although the alcohol was still on the left side of the building, the cave de vin aisle was no longer where it used to be! It had been replaced with a cave de champagne aisle.

When I expressed my shock at how much chapagne there was in the aisle, FBF replied “oh, oui, ils préparent pour noel” (oh, yeah, they’re getting ready for Christmas).

Déjà?!” (Already?!) I asked, incredulously.

Half of the cave de champagne aisle.

I know that Christmas preparations have started earlier and earlier in the States, but October seems a little excessive to me. I think the reason they start so early is that the French do not celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving, and lacking the intermediary holidays, they go straight for the good stuff.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I love me some delicious champagne. Plus, they have the adorable micro-sized bottles out on display.

On the top shelf are the gigantic bottles, on the far right and the bottom two shelves are the normal sized bottles, and the rest are the tiny bottles!

November 15, 2010

Les Toilettes

Having to go to the bathroom in France is not at all pleasant. I think the French must have bladders of steel.

If you have to pee when you are not at your home, you are in for a challenge. There are no public bathrooms. Some major monuments do have restrooms open to the public, but you have to pay to use them. The American in me hates paying to pee.

Restaurants, including fast food places, only let you use their bathroom if you are a costumer. I can’t even count how many times I’ve stopped at a McDonald’s or Burger King during a long drive in the States just to use the restroom! But in France this is not allowed.

If you’ve consumed a gigantic soda at the movie theater, and subsequently your bladder is about to burst after watching some 2-hour movie, too bad! After a movie is over, you don’t just walk out of the projection room. You walk right out onto the street.

Since having to go to the bathroom outside of the house is such a hassle, one would think the French would make peeing inside the house easy. This, however, is not the case. Although French houses can be 2 or 3 stories high, the toilet is usually on the first floor (in France, they separate the toilet from the bathtub/shower and have them in different rooms).

If you wake up in the middle of the night and have to pee, you must climb down at least one flight of stairs!

But that is not the worst of it. I live in the Nord. It is always cold. Now the French do have heating, but for some reason they do not heat their toilets! It is always FREEZING in the bathroom.

Needless to say, I try to hold it for as long as I can, and always pee before leaving the house.

November 10, 2010

Les Patates

Growing up, my family rarely had the tv on during dinner. Sure we had the occasional pizza and movie night, but most of the time we sat at the table with only each other for entertainment. Despite this, I always thought that eating dinner in front of the TV was one of America’s problems and that European households would be more similar to my personal experience with dinner.

This does not appear to be the case, however. Chez FBF the tv is always on while we eat. Even when I was eating at his mother’s house while they had guests, the TV remained on.

FBF says this is because the French don’t like silence and use the TV as background noise. I’m not so sure I believe this reason, as most of the time FBF or his mère (mom) will make comments about what is happening on the télé.

Last night at dinner was no exception. There was a commercial for an online poker tournament. After the pub (ad) was finished, FBF laughed while saying, “j’aime bien comment il dit pokER, avec un accent trop americain quoi! Er!” (I love how he says pokER! Like he’s trying to have an American accent with his Rs!)

After laughing for a little while, FBF’s mamman (mommy) said, “Bin vous savez ce qu’on dit pour l’accent americain? Pour bien parler americain, il faut parler avec une patate chaude dans la bouche!” (Well do you know what we say about the American accent? In order to speak American English well, you must speak with a hot potato in your mouth!)

November 7, 2010


FBF and I were invited to a 70s party. This immediately made me think of disco balls, bell-bottoms, polyester, and Saturday Night Fever. This being France, I was prepared for my image of the 70s to be a little bit off, due to my unfortunate costuming incident à la last year’s New Year’s Eve party.

So when FBF suggested we go as hippies, I went along. Despite the fact that hippies make me think 60s rather than 70s, I figured that France was just a little bit behind the times as far as the American concept of eras was concerned.

FBF and I in our 70s/hippie garb.

We were told there would 70s music playing at the party. Imagine my surprise when we walk in and are greeted by the grease soundtrack blaring form the speakers. GREASE. The musical. There were also people dressed up in 50s style costumes.

Curiously, the 50s weren’t the only time period before the 70s present at the party. There was also a girl in a flapper dress.

But unlike my prediction, there were people dressed up in disco appropriate outfits. There was a girl dressed up as a disco ball, people wearing polyester, and 70s style rock stars.

Although I’m not quite sure what time period I was supposed to find myself in, I did notice one thing. The French are really into perruques (wigs). Almost everyone was wearing a wig as part of their costume. It seems as if it’s more important to look completely different than to follow the theme as far as a costume party is concerned.

November 3, 2010

La Toussaint

On the day after Halloween, I learned why I have been on vacation for 1.5 weeks. All French holidays have a name, and this one is La Toussaint. Due to my astute powers of observation, I figured out that La Toussaint had something to do with flowers, as all of a sudden they were a prominent feature in the stores. Other than that, though, I figured it was just a nice little break.

During lunch on November 1st, I announced to FBF “Oh! C’est la dia de los muertos!”

He looked at me rather confused and said, “Quoi?” (What?) as he doesn’t speak Spanish.

I used my excellent translation skills and said, “La journée des morts? The day of the dead.”

“Ah, oui, je sais,” (oh, yes, I know) he replied. I was confused at first how someone who had never taken Spanish would ever learn about the day of the dead, but apparently France and Mexico have this day in common. Although in Mexico it is a much bigger deal and involves cool skeletons (at least from what I gathered in high school Spanish), in France November 1st is also a day of remembering loved ones who have passed on.

That afternoon, FBF’s sister came to pick us up, and we went to the cemetery. It was beautiful. The sun was setting, turning the sky a pinkish orange, the air was cool and crisp, and upon every tombstone there lay several bouquets of flowers. We placed some flowers on the graves of FBF’s family members, I stood around awkwardly, and then we were on our way back home.

The cemetery.

Although I wasn’t sure how to act, I think it would be nice if we followed up our day of parading about in costumes with a day of remembering the family members who are no longer with us.

November 1, 2010

Joyeux Halloween!

Halloween has not quite caught on in France. They tried to bring Halloween to this lovely country a few years back, but the French didn’t really like it. How little children don’t like going door-to-door and getting free candy is beyond me, but then again, I’m not French.

Despite the fact that practically nobody celebrates Halloween in France, I was determined to be American and celebrate it anyway. I packed my spider web earrings and spider web tights. Even if it wasn’t much, I could at least be in theme.

My Halloween earings.

For a while, it seemed that France was willing to accept me in my Americanness and help me along with my Halloween celebrations. When talking about Halloween with FBF’s mom, she told me that normally kids stop at the house and demand candy. Then, one of my French friends decided to throw a Halloween party. While it was a Halloween party that required the partygoers to dress up in scary costumes, I was still going to have an opportunity to wear my Halloween themed articles of clothing!

But it turns out that France had other plans for me. Not a single costumed or otherwise child stopped by the house yesterday. We handed out zero pieces of candy.

And as for the party, I have bronchitis. I spent Halloween in bed.

You win again, France! You win again.
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