More French Friday Fun

Cheese is sexy.

…Or at least to the French.

And I’m not just talking about how good it looks or smells or tastes (though a really good cheese does rouse a particular excitement in even the most stoic of Frenchies). No. The French had to take it a step further .

Only the French could possibly make cheese even sexier.

With none other than Des From’Girls, a pin-up style calendar featuring girls and of course, cheese.

la-couverture-du-calendierfrom-2009_0 la-from-girl-de-juillet

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French Friday Fun (sometimes I like alliteration)

A family friend posted a link of terrifying French children’s books, and I thought it was too amusing (and scarily accurate) not to share.

Welcome to the French world- where being unabashedly blunt, and scaring the crap out of your kids is the norm. Where frank, no-bullshit doses of harsh reality are served with a glass of milk before bedtime. No wonder French adults are the way there are. There was never any hope.

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Click here to see more terrifying French children’s books.

Happy Friday!

Return to Avignon

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As soon as I stepped off the train in Avignon, a surge of flashbacks flooded my brain. Like the weirdest hybrid of sheep-meets-cricket noises I heard in the night. Or getting lost in a hellish loop of a drive through the vortex trapping maze of Orange. Or the time my friends and I almost slept on the streets, got murdered, and ultimately stayed up til three in the morning watching gay porn. Ok. So that might be a tad over-exaggerated. Except for that last part. That totally happened.

My second time in Avignon went much more smoothly than the first. I stayed in a lovely hostel (Pop Hostel) right in the center of town. I had time to enjoy the town, see its sights and feel summer. It’s great to feel summer- eating homemade passionfruit peach ice cream bars, earning more freckles, sitting in a park and soaking up the sun, spying on potential flashmobbers, unfolding people’s secrets (literally) and having an adult playdate- where you talk, picnic and day drink.

But let me talk about the first time because there’s a lesson here.

I first set foot in Avignon four years ago, as my friends and I stepped off the TGV and into the warm summer night filled with…bizarre guttural noises. Those sounds signaled the start of a strange evening. As we tried to get our bearings out of the labyrinth that was the TGV station (which we later learned was on the outskirts of Avignon), the guttural noises got louder and more nasal. Crickets? No. Too loud. Birds? No. Too bizarre. Suddenly the strange noises surrounded us and as we peered into the night, we noticed what looked to be the faint glimmer of water. As I cautiously creeped closer to the waters edge, a small figure moved. And another. Frogs! Frogs with the weirdest assed mating calls I had ever heard.

Happy to have identified the bizarre sounds, and know that potential murder #1 was out of the way, we trekked on into the night with only a print out of directions to our “close” hotel. Long story short- our hotel was not close. We got lost. We wandered through back alleys and parking lots. And we wondered how we could possible avoid potential murder #2 until we finally made it to our sketchy hotel (in the middle of fucking nowhere I might add)…and discovered we were locked out. Another long story short- several phone calls, some lock picking and gate jumping attempts, lots of exhaustion, despair and a resignation to sleep on the streets later, we miraculously managed to get a hold of some one and get in….to our shoebox of a room. Seriously. If you opened the bathroom door, you hit the bed. Correction- if you cracked open the door, you hit the bed.

Too exhausted and traumatized from having endured a long day that ended with surviving three potential murders, we decided to stay in our shoebox, watch some t.v. and venture out when we could see the light of day. We flipped through the 10 channels on our tiny télé, among them there was that lion movie with that 6th sense kid (which was even more annoying dubbed), some news, and…gay porn. At first we watched it out of awe that such a thing could exist within 10 channels, and then changed the channel out of awkward awareness that others were in the room.

But then it became a thing of it’s own, as we watched on in fascination of what kind of french soap opera gay porn drama plot line was unfolding before our eyes. And then all of the sudden it was three in the morning and we all looked at eachother with a “holy shit did we really just stay up until three in the morning watching gay porn even though it started off as a joke and then turned into a thing of its own, and now we have to get up early because we can’t justify sleeping in and missing our one day in Avignon because we actually stayed up until three in the morning watching gay porn” look. Or something like that.

Except we did sleep in. And we barely saw Avignon.

Moral of the story- if it’s an option, and especially if you’re visiting a small or old touristy town, stay in the center. Unless you wanna watch gay porn in a shoe box.

But Avignon really is beautiful. I’m happy I got a second chance to see it. It’s definitely worth a visit!

Thursday Thoughts

I think it’s time to give up TexMex. Yes, even though I’ve been living in France for almost a month now, I’ve still tried to concoct various texmex meals. It’s always been a staple of mine. But after last night’s fiesta fail, I think it’s time to toss in the towel. I’ve taken refried beans, black beans, even cheddar and limes for granted. I thought there was a glimmer of hope when I found the “tex mex” isle, but the only beans are kidney beans, their salsa tastes like sweet ketchup with a mask of spice and their guacamole resembles only what I can describe as spicy goo. No bueno. Diego and I cringed and commiserated over the awfulness that is French Tex Mex and the multitude of meals that we missed, while Ilka happily slathered on the salsa, telling us that it reminded her of the popular curry ketchup in Germany. So until I find limes, ripe avocados, proper salsa ingredients and receive my shipment of real beans, I must bid Tex Mex adieu… for now….

This is the first time I’m missing the holiday season. True, I’ve been away from family and have not been home for Thanksgiving in quite some time, but this is the first time I’m out of the country at this time of the year. It’s strange to feel the cultural divide and homesickness, not from food or feeling unhappy, but from feelings of missing out. I love this time of year and I love Halloween. Honestly what’s not to love? Candy and creativity?! Halloween provides the perfect playground for my creativity to run wild. It’s strange not to be picking apples, drinking cider, carving pumpkins, watching horribly cheesy horror movies,and meticulously preparing the details of my costume. However, I have discovered that with the right people, Halloween can be possible. Last night the american assistants and I rallied Ilka and Diego into donning Halloween flair, dancing to thriller and monster mash, watching Hocus Pocus and gorging on candy. I know I’m in France, but old habits die hard I guess. Wonder what this year’s tacky holiday party will be like…

English is weird.  It’s fascinating to learn more about my own language as I study a foreign one. And I’ve come to the conclusion that English is indeed very strange. We have multiple ways of saying the same thing and overcomplicated ways of expressing ourselves. We use strange fillers and words that really aren’t all that necessary. Must we always insert ‘kind of’ into everything? Was it really ‘kind of a long way’ or ‘kinda a hot day’?   Why did we ‘used to’ do things? Why don’t we just say what we did? Living on the border of Germany and living with a German has opened my eyes to what a mix we are. We are part French (latin) and part Germanic. For example freedom (German) and liberty (French) are two completely different words commonly used to express the same thing. We not only have a multitude of words to choose from, but also lengthy ways of expressing things. For example we say ‘to laugh at someone else’s pain’, while the Germans just use one word “Schadenfreude”. That word would have come in handy growing up in my family…

And finally, apparently I’m inappropriate in French (**relatives be advised). I know it comes with the new language territory, but I’ve set a record for myself in the past couple of weeks. Somehow I have managed to say one dirty statement after another. First I told Diego that instead of having mosquito bites all over my body I had “beaucoup des bites,” or the french slang word for penis all over me. First fail. Then as I was happily carrying on a conversation with my host in Besancon about the differences between French and American cuisine, I added that there are many more “préservatifs”, or condoms, in American food. I even knew not to say that one! Fail. And finally when I was hosted for the wonderful raclette feast, I was describing the pickle smell in my room but some how instead of saying ‘cornichons’, I said ‘gornichons’, which roughly translates to slang for big boobs. So apparently I have penises on my body, condoms in my food and the smell of big breasts in my room. Big time fail. I think I’ll stop speaking now…

And with that. I conclude my Thursday thoughts. Maybe I’ll continue Thursday Thoughts and start Fromage Fridasy. That one’s a must. My goal is to be a fromage connoisseur by the end of my stay here. But for now, I must prepare for my classes, Antoine’s arrival, and the road trip to Prague! Toussiant is finally here and tomorrow after 1:30 my two week vacation commences!