Posts Tagged ‘America’

There’s a Place Called King of Prussia?

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Sometimes procrastination and distractions are worth it and today Wikipedia delivered me a gem. I have spent part of my afternoon looking for writing opportunities and read about a copywriting position in “King of Prussia.” At first I presumed this was the name of a creative agency or some sort of weird and whacky company. However, a quick Google search and the all-knowing, always reliable source that is Wikipedia told me that King of Prussia is a census-recognised area in Pennsylvania with a population of 19,936 (2010.) It is also home to the largest mall in the United States (based on leasable retail space.)

It gets better – it is also the location of the headquarters of the American Baptist Churches USA, a building known as the Holy Doughnut. While on the doughnut theme, there is also a Dunkin’ Donuts at the King of Prussia Mall.

Thank you, Wikipedia. Now it’s back to work.

Ma Vie à Paris

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

I have realised that I haven’t written about life à Paris for quite some time. My focus has shifted to my experiments in the world of linoleum and paper and I haven’t kept you up to date with the latest and greatest happenings in Gay Paris. Times, they may be a’changin’, but I shall now redeem myself with a longwinded discussion on the ins and outs of the French capital. Vous êtes prêts? On y va!

Weather

Allow me to start with what everyone is talking about – the fact that it is now June, and therefore apparently summer, yet I am wearing pants, a long-sleeved shirt AND a cardigan. Today the sky is covered in varying degrees of grey cloud and the forecast for this afternoon is rain, rain, rain. This is seriously going to disrupt my friends’ and my plans of having a picnic by the canal. Sure, the sun doesn’t set until after 10pm these days, but that’s difficult to enjoy when you can’t actually see the sun anyway. We had a week or so of glorious sunshine and last Saturday I got sunburnt. The following day I was wearing jeans and a jumper. Something is wrong here.

Politics

France has elected its new President, Monsieur Hollande, and he seems to be fitting in just fine. I haven’t really heard much about him, nor have there been any scandals involving him and a younger woman (yet). So really, he’s quite boring and we can tell this just by looking at him. He looks like a maths teacher (or, as I have been informed by my American friends, a MATH teacher). Not that I have anything against maths teachers – they just make for fairly limp Presidents. Maybe Sarkozy will give him some hot tips on how to be a slime-ball.

In the meantime, France is gearing up for the NEXT election where they vote for their local representatives. I really don’t understand how this works because it seems candidates can stick their hand up to be a representative in any area of France that they want. I’m sure there are some rules, but it is probably just as long as you have a friend who lives in that area or you went camping there once then you can be a candidate. This has resulted in the extreme-left candidate from the Presidential election (Melanchon) challenging the extreme-right candidate (Le Pen) in an area in the north-east of France. This is risky business and could result in Melanchon not being elected which would be a DISASTER because really he’s the only candidate with any sort of human sentiment. It would also mean that Le Pen gets in and every foreigner in France will pack their bags in anticipation of their departure. Anyway, we shall see. I believe the first vote is this weekend, with the second round the following week. Exciting times.

Fashion

The latest in summer fashions are in the stores and despite not having been shopping for at least three months, I can report that the style for this season is beige, beige, beige with FLURO PINK or FLURO BLUE or FLURO ORANGE. It is extraordinarily awful. The BoBos have been out in force when the sun does peak its head out from behind the clouds and big, thick-rimmed glasses are still a must.

Food

Weird and disgusting as this may sound, the latest craze in the French food world is… American hotdogs and hamburgers. WHY?? I really don’t know. Actually, I do. While BoBos are proud of their native country and French ways, they also crave the style of New York and therefore a van driving around the city selling over priced hamburgers (on gross sweet ‘hamburger’ buns I might add) is considered to be “trés Brooklyn”. The hamburgers I can manage, but the other day I noticed a new restaurant on Rue du Faubourg St Denis that is a “New Yorkaise” style hot dog restaurant where you can buy a “real American” hot dog for 4 Euros. They even were proud of the fact that you could add fake “mustard” in your sausage in a bun. Needless to say, I haven’t tried these hot dogs and never plan to. I’m happy to stick to good traditional French food that is full of fat and cheese and cream and everything that is delicious and artery-clogging.

Life aux Récollets

Life in the convent is plodding along nicely. The next few weeks will see the departure of some residents who have become good friends. It is a hard aspect of living here – I get to meet so many great people but often they will leave after a short period of time. It is nice to know that I will have people to go and visit in Italy, the US, Canada, Poland, South Korea, Germany, Greece… But still. It would be nicer if they would just stay here.

My electricity still turns off at least once a day and the internet continues to be painfully slow. There hasn’t been much action from the ghost downstairs but I think he/she might come out when summer finally arrives. Becky and my vegie garden is growing like crazy and we will have tomatoes before we know it. We just need to build an anti-rabbit/bird/mouse/snail/monster contraption to save our plants. Something is very, very hungry and likes eating our green-leafed plants. Very annoying.

So I think that is about it. Most of you will have heard or worked out through amazing sleuth-work that I am now a single lady living in Paris. This has both its ups and downs as emotions are still quite raw and so any form of romantic liaison between people on the street can result in floods of tears. This is problem considering Paris is the city of love and sitting on every second bench or lying under every other tree are gross, soppy, lovey-dovey couples kissing and cuddling and doing all sorts of French things. I have considered going over and asking them to stop but I have refrained. Anyway, life is all about changes and growing and discovering new things, new places and new people and that is my plan. I would just like to sun to come out so that I can wear a skirt. I’m bored of pants.

HAPPY THANKS GIVING!

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

The great thing about living at the Récollets is that I get to meet people from all over the world who bring with them delicious food-based holidays. Tonight Tom and I have been invited to a belated Thanks Giving dinner with our two American friends, Jen and Greg. They have recently managed to score themselves an apartment in Paris (how they managed to do this is still a mystery to me) and so we’re celebrating with turkey and pilgrims.

As I am the proud owner of an oven and I stupidly said, “I’ll do it!”, I have been put in charge of the pumpkin pie. I figured it couldn’t be THAT hard because everyone in America and Canada makes pumpkin pie every year and if they can do it then I can too. It was then that multiple Americans informed me that the now ‘traditional’ way of making pumpkin pie is to buy a pre-made pastry case, pour in canned “Pie Pumpkin” and then bake. That’s called cheating. I not only REFUSED to use canned pumpkin, I also realised there was no way in the world I would ever find it in France, so I then had to find a real pumpkin. That’s almost as difficult. Pumpkin isn’t really France’s number one vegetable, despite it being versatile and utterly delicious! Crazy French. But by some sort of Thanks Giving miracle, I managed to find myself a butternut pumpkin in the first fruit and vegetable store I looked in. Thank you, Holy Pilgrims.

Yesterday evening I made the pastry and the pumpkin mush, in preparation for today, thinking I might be heading out and doing something. Turns out I have spent the entire day at home making this thing. Pastry and I aren’t really friends although I have managed to produce something resembling short crust pastry. It’s just a bit stumpy in the pan and resulting in the size of my pie being reduced significantly. Therefore I had far too much filling, the left overs of which I have just cooked in the oven without pastry in order to taste the pumpkiny-centre to check that no one will die.

And it has been a success! It tastes GOOOOOOOOOOD! I am looking forward to having the pastried version now and am feeling slightly less worried about presenting the pie to my relatively new friends. I figure it isn’t my fault it isn’t the perfect pumpkin pie because I’m not American and therefore do not have the genetics to create such a thing.

Pumpkin pie

Mmm... pie...

Homage to Le Homard

Monday, September 26th, 2011

In the lead up to visiting my second and third cousins in Maine (I don’t really know the relationship, I just call them that), I had been told I would eat the local specialty – lobster. This scared me. I don’t particularly enjoy seafood outside of non-fishy-fish – prawns are alright but I’d never order them in a restaurant; scallops make me want to vomit; I don’t touch oysters; and anything with tentacles just creeps me out (although I have tried some very good octopus in Greece.) I can see half of you rolling your eyes right now in a “How can she say this? Seafood is wonderful!” kind of way and all I can say is that my decision to avoid eating it just means there is more for you! So honestly, the idea that I would be eating a large cockroach of the ocean didn’t particularly appeal but I was determined to give it a go.

My first encounter with lobster came in the form of a lobster roll purchased from a local gas station. We were out exploring and in need of lunch and the most obvious option was to grab a lobster roll. They are sold everywhere and are of varying quality but all contain REAL lobster, picked out of the shells by local de-lobster-meaters.

Lobster roll

It's a lobster roll

Our lobster rolls were made in front of us and were apparently a “good price” according to our local tour guides. The problem I found with the lobster roll wasn’t the lobster, but the highly sugared bread that had then been dipped in butter and “grilled” (I’d prefer to use the term “fried”) on one side, and the excess amount of mayonnaise added to the lobster. You couldn’t really enjoy the lobster experience and I don’t think I would choose to eat a lobster roll again.

The real experience came one evening when Bob (my second cousin-in-law) purchased 10 lobsters from a local fisherman for an astonishingly low price and then cooked them in sea water for dinner.

Lobsters

That's a lot of lobsters

Less than four hours had passed between the lobsters coming out of the ocean and them being thrown into boiling, death-inducing water so they were remarkably fresh. This is what faced me for my first attempt at lobster eating:

lobster

Hello food

After donning a lobster bib, taking deep breaths and being run through the basics of lobster dismantling, I attacked my little red friend. Her claws were the first to go. Tough little creatures with their hard shells and evil pointy bits just to make eating them more difficult. But once you’re in and you dip their flesh into molten butter and pop it into your mouth you discover a whole new world of shellfish. I couldn’t believe how good it was. I have never wanted to eat a sea creature more than I did with Pinchy-Lee. Her body meat was a bit more ‘fishy’ than the claws but I still eat every last bit. And when the offer of another claw came along I couldn’t say no.

I think part of the joy of eating lobster is the mess – we put down a special plastic lobster-eating table cloth and everyone was wearing colourful bibs around their necks. It soon became obvious why this protective gear was necessary as juice and sea water were squirting everywhere.

Corn

Super-sized corn cob

We ate the lobster with some locally grown, organic corn which was the biggest, yellowest and sweetest corn I have ever eaten. It was a dinner for the Gods and I think we were all quite disappointed when it was over. A big thank you to Bob, Marijke, Catrina and Nick for delivering one of the greatest meals of my life. And thank you, Pinchy-Lee, for being so damn delicious.

Mackerel in Maine

Monday, September 12th, 2011

A very quick post just to inform you of my brilliant fishing skills. We are currently in Georgetown, Maine, visiting my second cousin and her family. The past few days have involved a fair amount of fishing as this area of the world is fishing heaven. Tom is beside himself. However, today while out on the boat we fished for mackerel and before starting Tom and I declared it was a competition to see who could catch the most (it started off as the biggest but all the fish were about the same size so it turned into quantity over quality.) Final score? Tom: Two. Marijke (my second cousin): Two. Me: Eight.

In other news, we eventually made it to the airport in New York to catch our flight (Tom got stuck in a water-clogged underground for a while) which was then delayed and then cancelled for a second time as we were sitting on the plane being told the safety instructions. The crew had clocked off the number of hours they’re allowed to do and decided to tell us when we were already on the plane. We were going to have to wait until the next day to fly but then they decided that another crew flying in on another plane could take us so we had to get off the plane, wait for the new crew to prepare the plane (again), get back on, be re-told the safety instructions and then finally it took off. We were supposed to leave New York on our original flight at 3.30pm. We actually left at midnight. We weren’t very impressed. Tomorrow we are placing a lot of hope and trust into Delta once again to deliver us back to New York in time for us to transfer airports and then fly to Paris. If they fail I will be REALLY REALLY MAD.

So hopefully next time you hear from me I will be very sleepy but in Paris, waiting for my brother to arrive.