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12 mars 2013 2 12 /03 /mars /2013 16:06

I was at the park with my son this week-end, guiding him with slide etiquette and safety (wait for your turn, don't stand at the bottom of the slide where you can get knocked off your feet by kids coming down...) when someone said: "Do I hear an American voice?" - That was a lady from North Carolina, talking to me. Me. The American voice. Talk about being knocked off your feet! 

 

This is especially significant for me on several levels.

a/ I spent my first few years in DC trying really hard to avoid speaking with an Amerian accent. I listened to Clare FM on a daily basis and checked myself every time I opened my mouth. Of course, you can only keep that up for so long, so in the end I just gave in and accepted the fact that if I was going to live in DC, at some point I would have to walk the walk and talk the talk.

b/ in spite of all that, being a non-native speaker, there is no getting entirely rid of your foreign accent. Other non-native speakers may not catch it, but natives usually can tell you're not from here. So, being mistaken for a native is flattering in a way - some kind of recognition that you've achieved true blending, you've succeeded to adapt and fit in! I am especially sensitive about that now that we're back because I want my son - who is an American citizen - to be in touch with American culture, language and values. I am nervous that even after seven years I am still too foreign to pass enough of that on to him. Now, I wonder whether this other Mom is puzzled over the fact that after 10 years in France, a French woman sounded American to her.

 

Anyway, that was an interesting encounter with another multicultural Mom.

 

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24 février 2013 7 24 /02 /février /2013 10:30

food-4554.JPG

 

Winter cold has been motivating me to try a bunch of soup recipes, so I've been rediscovering the copy of Soup of the day that waited these six+ years in my grandmother's attic for someone to come around and use it again.

One of my favorite recipes is a variant of the hot tomato soup, which is so much better served cold as a tangy Gaspacho:

 

Ingredients:

- 2 lb preserved tomatoes

- 1 onion

- 2 garlic cloves

- 1 bay leave

- 3 ts chopped fresh ginger

- 1 cup water

- 1 Tbs creme fraiche

 

food-4562.JPG

 

Preparation:

- Saute minced onion and garlic in olive oil in a saucepan for about 5 minutes

- add ginger and tomatoes

- add salt, pepper and bay leave

- bring to a boil, reduce heat and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes

- take bay leave out

- add creme fraiche and mix well 

- serve chilled with a slice of lime or chopped chives  

 

food-4558.JPG

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26 octobre 2012 5 26 /10 /octobre /2012 09:52

I am not claiming that everyday life in the US is necessarily easier, compared to France. However, life in a familiar environment, wherever that is, is definitely easier.

I am slowly re-adjusting to France, and getting used to the way things are here. However, right now, I am not exactly familiar with my environment. As a result, the simplest things become a challenge. 

Shopping for a pasta dinner should be a five minute stop at Leclerc. Alas! everything is different here. The brands, the packaging, the size of things, the way they're organized in the store... Tomato sauce does not come in a can! Instead, you have to track tiny cardboard boxes of 200 ml. that ressemble juice containers for children, so you'll need about two to a 15 oz. can. Parmesan does not come shevelled! Instead you'll need to track small opaque bags of powdered cheese (again, at least two are needed to match a 2 cup bag). All this converting is exhausting. I should know, it was the same story when I first set foot in a Safeway but that was so long ago!

Shopping bags in hand, going home should be easy. But the smallest wrong turn at the wrong time of day easily adds 45 minutes to a 3-minute commute. No kidding. This daily travel time russian roulette is exhausting. And nothing prepared me to that, not even rainy days on Old Georgetown road.

The cherry on top of the cringe cake is wanting to bake muffins - but the muffin pan is in the shipment. Wanting to watch a good old episode of Gilmore Girls for comfort after an exhausting day - but the DVDs are in the shipment. Wanting to put some bigger socks on my son's growing feet - but the larger baby clothes are in the shipment. Wanting to use our winter comforter because it sometimes gets cold at night - but our linens are in the shipment. You get the drift. Everything we thought we could do without for 6 to 8 weeks is in a shipment that has been somewhere between Maryland and France for a solid 9 weeks. There is no getting a firm answer as to when we'll finally see our stuff again. "Likely next week, or the week after" has been heard so many times that it will eventually come true. And when it does, perhaps we'll be back on the path of day-to-day routine being easier again.

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13 septembre 2012 4 13 /09 /septembre /2012 20:52

It's been two weeks. I guess the shock is slightly wearing off, as we get re-aquainted to life in our beloved homeland.


As always, the blows come unexpected. I thought it might be hard to be back in a French speaking environment - but in the end, I have enough English speakers in my life, including my son, to make this a non-issue, at least for the time being. I dreaded visits to the various administrative offices, but we waited in line a record 10 minutes at la CAF. In the end, the greatest shock comes from space and how people move around occupying it. I do not mean the obvious reduction in living quarters size, which was fully expected. (and to be honest we were incredibly lucky to be able to rent a wonderful apartment a sheer 30% smaller than our place in MD with quite the view...)

 
However,I did not realize how spoiled we have been, driving our dear Camry around Maryland roads. Because here, the roads (or rather, lanes!) are so narrow that my learner fears of bumping into opposing traffic are vividly coming back. Parking spaces are so tiny that getting into one unscathed feels like a victory. And have I mentioned the bloody flower beds and other variation of concrete blocks startegically positioned on the already narrow car lanes to make drivers think twice about the necessity of taking the car out of the garage today? To add to the challenge of navigating in tiny Legoland, the drivers also have to be reckoned with. Unlike the average US  law-abiding citizen, the French driver seems to consider driving rules and regulations as mere suggestions. So you'd better keepon your toes lest one of them should spring on you unexpectedly from the right, left or center!

Funnily enough the same seems to apply to supermarket aisles. I guess all is fair in war and shopping. Having two carts crossing each other in a tiny Monoprix aisle is hard to achieve to begin with, but people are so unbothered with common courtesy that they seem ready to just keel you over to reach for their camembert rather than politely ask you to move over -and loose precious seconds talking to you. Hoping for a break from all this compactness I decided to pay a visit to the local HyperLeclerc, courtessy of our newly updated GPS. Alas, I only ended up hyperventillating and forgetting what I came for in the giant aisles of Safeway, CVS and Target all rolled into one. 

 

But as everyone keeps saying lightly, I'll get used to it.




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1 septembre 2012 6 01 /09 /septembre /2012 00:01

If you're moving overseas - or any place where storing left-over gear in Grandma's attic is not an option, really, you may want to consider the following: 

1. Whatever you think you're going to pack, up that by 50% and that is likely still a low estimation of what you will end up packing

2. Reconsider saving best for last. Even if it seems to make sense to hold off packing the items you use the most on an every day basis, and/or the items you like the most until the end so that you can enjoy them longer before the move, don't. Just pack it all, the sooner the better. Because otherwise you will end up with all these prized items that need to be packed at the 11th hour when suitcases are already bursting and over the airline-approved weight limit. So chances are, around 4 am, some will get packed poorly and suffer during the trip, and some won't even make the trip because you're just too weary of shifting stuff around for the gazillionth time. 

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31 août 2012 5 31 /08 /août /2012 09:27

We made it!France-3388_small.jpg

 

Finally...

France-3392_small.jpg

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29 juillet 2012 7 29 /07 /juillet /2012 17:04

Contre toute attente, on trouve des endroits formidables au fin fond de la zone industrielle de Rockville, loin des enormes centres commerciaux qui donnent aux alentours immediats de Rockville Pike un semblant d'animation. Ce week-end, nous en avons experimente deux:

-          la fameuse boulangerie Saint Michel dont tous les francais du coin parlent depuis des annees – mais je n’avais pas pris le temps d’y aller jusqu’a present. Il faut dire que sans GPS et indications précises, ce serait difficile a trouver. Mais ca vaut le coup de tenter le jeu de piste! C’est bien meilleur que chez Paul, et moins cher en plus.  Commande massive de mini-viennoiseries prevues pour mon pot de depart.

-          Le take-out indien TAJ - trouve au hazard sur yelp, on ne regrette pas d’avoir fait confiance aux commentaires elogieux. De fait, le menu est varie, les plats sont tres bons, pour un prix fort raisonnable: moins de $25 a deux pour une entrée, deux plats, un dessert et des lassis a la mangue. C’etait meme suffisament copieux pour faire un repas supplementaire avec les restes. On y retournera surement, car le temps consacre a cuisine va bien diminuer dans les prochaines semaines!   

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26 juillet 2012 4 26 /07 /juillet /2012 02:10

Une excellente recette, facile et rapide a preparer: que demander de mieux?

Je l'ai decouverte tout a fait par hasard il y a quelques jours en cherchant quoi faire avec un filet de Tilapia et une botte d'aillets. Je me suis donc inspiree de cette recette, trouvee par Google.

 

Ingredients (pour 2 personnes):

- 2 filets de tilapia (1 petite livre)

- 2-3 gousses d'ail

- 1 mangue (environ 200 g. de fruit) - je pense que ca doit etre tout aussi bon avec de l'ananas, voire de la peche...

- 2 cuilleres a cafe de gingembre en poudre

 

- 2 cuilleres a soupe d'huile d'olive

- 1 pincee de poivre

- de la sauce de soja(environ 50 ml)

- 5 aillets

 

Preparation

- prechauffer le four a 450F/230C

- peler et decouper la mangue en morceau

- emincer l'ail

- dans un bol, melanger la mangue, l'ail, l'huile le poivre et le gingembre

- ajouter l'huile de soja pour que la mangue en soit impregnee... Ne pas trop innonder, sinon la sauce est vite trop salee.

- preparer les papillottes sur du papier aluminium: le poisson, la sauce de magune, et les aillets eminces

 

tilapia raw

 

- enfourner 15 minutes a 450F

- servir avec du riz

 

 

tilapia_cooked.jpg

 

Ce serait potentiellement plus photogenique avec du riz blanc, mais demenagement imminent oblige, le stock de riz sauvage a la priorite!

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20 juillet 2012 5 20 /07 /juillet /2012 04:53

Le week-end precedent le 4 Juillet, nous etions pres du Canada, la ou les eglises locales affichent des messages super patriotiques pour l'occasion.

 

  AmericaAmerica

 

Sans le savoir, nous avons choisi le meilleur week-end de l'annee pour partir en voyage. La region de DC a subi une tempete furieuse avec des degats electriques sans precedent. Pres de 500000 foyers sont restes prives d'electricite pendant plusieurs jours.Bien que les coupures de courant soient frequentes dans le coin, ca prend quand meme rarement cette ampleur.

 

Pour comprendre, il suffit de regarder le bord des routes:

 

 

P1030905

 

On dirait que les arbres sont en train de phagociter les fils electriques, pourtant nombreux.

 

P1030908

 

Mais la vegetation luxuriante semble souvent prendre le dessus.

 

P1030898

 

Au moindre coup de vent, il n'est pas etonnant que les branches secouent les fils et que les arbres entrainent les poteaux electriques dans leur chute en cas de tempete. Cependant, cette situation perdure car il me semble que les companies electriques ne peuvent pas enterrer les lignes ou tailler les arbres a leur guise car elles ne sont pas proprietaires des terrains. M'enfin, comme elles ont quand meme reussi a planter les poteaux, on peut se demander si finalement elles n'applique pas une politique court-terme consistant a economiser sur l'embauche de personnel charge de cette maintenance. Quoi qu'il en soit, toute la region subit stoiquement les coupures d'electricite a intervale regulier...

 

En conclusion, je laisse le dernier mot a la maxime de la semaine:

 

P1030873

 

 

 

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22 juin 2012 5 22 /06 /juin /2012 01:23

In about two months, we're hightailing it outta here. The days when I was religiously listening to Clare FM to make sure I woudn't catch a local accent are long gone. As a matter of fact, I'be been walking the walk probably more than talking the talk because there's no taking the French out of my accent anyway. Regardless, now that moving is getting more imminent than ever, I'm starting to inventorize all the things I'm going to miss, from right turns on red to mani-pedis at the Venus Spa salon. All of it should result in a busy to-do list adding to the pile of moving duties...

- shopping at TJ-max and Loehman's
- shopping at Trousseau and Lion's Lair (what will I ever do without them?)
- eating sushi - recent experience seems to indicate that Paris sushi suck!
- amazon free delivery of books and DVDs without subtitles to my door
- watching favorite shows on Hulu
- eggs benedict for brunch
- friendly service and good food at Rumba cafe

... but in the end we're essentially talking about shopping and dinning, just what one needs to take away the stress of packing!

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