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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Story Time: La Boucherie

Today we trudged out in the rain because we were out of eggs for our 'Saturday morning pancakes'.  The marché eggs are always free range and way cheaper than the super-marché (like 1.70 for 6 free range, butt feathers still attached.)

I frequent le marché on 'Saint-Antoine Célestins'; on Saturdays it's bustling and filled with fresh produce, happy stall owners and lots of life.  At the end is a street called, 'rue grennette' which houses one of my favorite, AND marks my first visit to a Boucherie.

Called, la Boucherie Centrale, it looks as though it is ran by a family.  The old man behind the counter was all smiles as he picked out my beef and cut it into pieces for me, the pork.. the paté en croute.  It's always a little more expensive, which is why I make it a rare occasion to venture out to a boucherie.

The meat is all slaughtered/butchered by the family and the quality shows on the product- the beef is a beautiful red color and will be perfect for my 'sunday stew' as the weather has gotten colder.

I love buying fresh meat- it's an animalistic and a very French feeling..

The address for this Boucherie is:  3 Rue Grenette, 69002 Lyon, France



Friday, October 29, 2010

Story Time: Grammar.. 'de, des?' 'le, ce'?

I have a test this upcoming Tuesday so I put off my studying (of course) to the weekend.  Mostly because I understand it (mostly) and also because I know I'd forget all the rules anyway.

French grammar is complicated... did anyone every tell you that?

Like for example, the verb 'Avoir'.  Did you know that if a sentence has 'un, une or des' they change to de?  What kind of crazy person sat down and wrote out these incredibly defined rules?  Why is it that I never learned this kind of stuff in English?

Plus, why is everything masculine or feminine according to their word (p.s. no logic behind this, just memorization) and not their actual gender?  Why is 'hatred' (la haine) feminine, but 'love' (l'amour) is masculine?

En tout cas; I think it's way too complicated for it's own good.. but it really means something.  I remember once at a dinner party I looked at Bri's mom and stated, 'Do you remember that one time you made a wild boar?  It was delicious'  (Tu te souviens ce temps t'as fait un sanglier?  C'était terrible (this means wonderful in french))

Everyone paused a moment and then burst out laughing.  I waited for an explanation and repeated, 'but it was a good sanglier!'.  Luckily, the hostess, was a retired French teacher... she stopped laughing enough to explain that using 'un' instead of 'de' made it sound like Bri's mom had roasted and entire wild boar in some caveman-ish style.  Alrighty, that made sense, but still, a mistake like that in English wouldn't cause an entire table to bust up laughing.

The French take their grammar very seriously and they will notice the slightest mistakes..

Did you know that during a job interview in France you can know if they are truly interested or not simply by the tense of the verb?  It's INSANE!

So.  That's my rant on the delicacies of the French language.  If you are planning to, or already do live here, I'd be studying that if you want to survive!!!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Culture Shock: Capitalism in France

Capitalism is such a complex thing- in America it's over run our streets with red-headed clowns screaming out for you to buy sugar laden food.  In America it's raided our radio stations with the same music.. because it's owned and bought by a huge investor of Universal Music and Timer Warner (which are actually owned by the same.)  In America, capitalism has flooded our television with images of a glorified Tea Party candidate who would actually end up destroying our freedoms and taking away our choices in a pseudo fascist regime.

Captalism is something I am really bothered by but yet feed into.  France has started to open her arms to allow it to roam in the streets... unfortunately.  What are the signs?

Super Markets:  From Carrefour to Marché U, this way of food shopping has only existed for the last 40 years.  In the 1950's when American housewives had fake plastered smiles and perfect hair, shopping in the frozen food aisles and kissing her husband good night with a brandy in the hand... France was still heading to their marchés, buying their daily bread and vegetables.  Making extravagent home-made meals from the things they bought from the marché.. that's why their food is so diverse; they didn't destroy gastronomy with frozen replacements.  If you ever want to learn about why our food in America is 50% on average.. look into these key words:  slotting fee, distributor handling.  They pretty much mark up a cheaper produce.. if there were marchés in America (not the Farmer's Market, which is just glorified and overpriced) then the produce would be cheaper.

Fast Food:  McDonalds, or 'MacDo' as we lovingly call it here.  They are really making a profit of the people of France, with the same sickeningly quality and ingredients as we all remember in 'Supersize Me',  but packaged much smaller so it's more 'European'... and worse, marked up about 50%.  In France, you can buy a tomato for .10, but a medium sized chicken nugget meal costs €6; or $8.20 for those who are counting.  To put it in perspective, this meal costs the same price as 3 crêpes in the street... or in America as an entree at a restaurant.

Clothes:  Abercrombie & Fitch recently made their move into France, July 2010.  Not sure how their controversial employment practices are fitting into the highly protected French employee... needless to say, a great market to 'mark up' the clothes and turn a profit... because in France, anything American is 'fancy'.

American Way:  Big cars, American music, MTV.. television shows.  This is such a big industry here, the voice-over actors for movies and television shows are popular and well known. It was strange to me when I was watching 'Le Grand Journal' and a voice actor was the guest.. I was confused and thought he was the actor- until I saw a familiar American actor and I realized... French voice over.

English:  Now it is becoming a universal language.  Everyone needs to speak it, and most everyone does.  Lucky for me, the French often have notorious accents- so I don't feel so 'American caught in public' when speaking.  It's still strange to speak a language EVERYONE speaks, but to be learning a language only a few speak... of course Italian would be more unique.

It's sad, much like how Julia Child described in her memoirs, to see a culture becoming uniformed and losing her beautiful identity.  The France we see in the films is the France from 1950's and 1960's.  Now it's slowly decaying into the culture we so often embrace in America.

I think I'll be the last generation to see France as a unique culture... which is why I write to remember.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Advice: The Essentials of Living in France

As I was tutoring a lovely student today I got to thinking about what one really needs to survive in France.. I looked around at the books and the things I use on a daily basis and decided to create a list to impart this information for any 'future expatriates' or even for current expatriates...

The Essentials to Survive as an Expat in France
  1. Basic Understanding of French:  When I say basic, I mean you'll be able to survive with very minimal French.  My advice though is to improve upon this asap... because you'll get stuck with some real snooty customer service- like I did... today.  See.. I had to call Velo'v to change the card to my Técély.. and I got a bit lost on the phone.  I got it done in the end, but I can say more than 'bonjour' and 'au revoir.
  2. Measuring cups/spoons that are 'Bi-Count':  Bi-Count means, in my words, able to measure in cl/ml as well as cups/tablespoons.  Recipes in Europe are on the metric system, if from the US, we are on the imperial system.  Very confusing.
  3. French-French Dictionary:  Not an English-French... because you'd be surprised how that can actually prevent you from learning French.  It helps to understand the synonyms of French words- and if you are REALLY at an elementary level.. well then go for the English-French.
  4. The Book:  Yes.  I mean Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  It's my guide to complicated French dishes, and the best way to impress my French in-laws.. plus it makes me feel very 'Julia Childesque Era:  my Life in France'.  It's fun to sweep around a small French kitchen making the very dishes she made when she herself was discovering France.
  5. Some Clothes 'in fashion':  When I say this, I mean look around pictures of France.. people don't wear berets, despite the stereotype... right now it's a very tights and big sweater type thing- and also very bright pastels... like the 80's in America.
  6. English Grammar for Students of French:  If you don't own this book... go to Amazon and BUY IT NOW.  It simplifies the complexities of French grammar and explains exactly what is a subjunctive and when does one use the imperitive.  Very very helpful.
  7. A Copy of Rosetta Stone:  Helps to verbally practice the language, it's actually a very useful program that I tend to use every now and then.. helps by visual recognition- great for beginners.
  8. Podcasts:  A great way to listen to French on a daily basis.. RFI.com offers 'slow French news' very helpful... and plus most Podcasts are FREE!
That's about the top 8 things I tend to use on a daily basis.  Other things will be describe later, such as, how to make a CV... where to find tutoring gigs.  Opportunities that studying in France can bring someone.

Until later;


Monday, October 25, 2010

Story Time: Debate in French

Saturday night we were at the parent's house in Genas and family was invited to dinner.  The thing about family, in any country or language, is not everyone can agree at everything.  I realized this when I was asked, in a very accusatory manner,

"Pourquoi est-ce que Barack Obama a fait rien?  Il a crée tous ces éspoirs mais aucune chose a passé!!"
Like it's my fault the media plays against my President in France and it's not like I know him personally and we hang out or anything.  Basically he meant to say, why is it that your President was so worshipped by the world and now he's not curing cancer or turning water to wine?

I explained, nicely, that although it appears as though nothing as passed.. it's because the news in France tends to be a bit ethnocentric with what they show.. mostly French news- or an interpretation of American news.  Same thing we do back home.

The hype that surrounded my president during 2008 came from the fact he was fresh breath of air from the previous 8 years.  Europe loved Obama.. they idealized him.  French people would never wear their own flag, but people were smocked in the street with Obama T-Shirts, smiling and waving their Ameriphile-ness.  New York suddenly became fancy again and the hatred that used to surround Americans dissipated and we became the golden children.

Except now, due to this phenomena, it's every American expatriate's duty to keep up on current affairs in order to be able to detail exactly what the president has done. 

I explained the heath bill getting passed, the fact that the Government retook the loans so they could control the amounts, the movement of Iraq troops back into Afghanistan.  I kindly noted that my president is my president, not the French president.  He's not meant to change the world for Christ's sake, only ameliorate my own country (which was so utterly failing after George Bush).

I have a simple advice to Americans in France or ANYWHERE in Europe:  Know the current events in America and in Europe.

The awful stereotype (which tends to be true in general) is that Americans are the dumbest most ill-informed and ethnocentric group of citizens on the planet.  The French love to mock and tease, saying that we only know the "Eiffel Tower" and the "TGV".  We stick to our guns while stuffing our face with burgers and bad beer- but while that is true of many places, it's even more important for those of us who are expatriates to represent our country.  We're not just here to escape, because you'll never escape and be 100% European- it's impossible- but we are here as representatives.

So, as I learned on Saturday, even though I'm not a personal 'fan' of my country I make an effort to stick up for her- because I'll tell you what... you mess with MY mama, and you're messin' with me.

Some good debating terms:

N'importe quoi:  It means, whatever, or 'are you kidding?'
T'es têtu:  You're stubborn!
Je suis pas d'accord:  I'm not in agreement
Ethnocentique:  Means egotistic about your own country
La Droite:  the right, like republicans
La Gauche:  The left, democrats
L'êxtreme droite, 'tea party':  The tea party candidates, which all French people have a good laugh
T'es grave or c'est grave:  the first means, 'you're really lost and I can't save you, too sad (not emotionally, sarcastically), and the second, 'it's too bad'.

I'd read the news in English and write down some words, use a dictionary, find the equivalent.  It's better to look smart.. plus it feels SO GOOD when the person you are debating with, in French, concedes.

Bon chance, bon courage,


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Advice: Marché-Etiquette & Rules.

About two months ago I wrote a truly tragic post regarding my bad experience with a peach vendor in the marché.  I wondered, was the marché atmosphere in France changing and so inevitable to be put in bad form with the vendors?  Was it now a passé, as supermarchés became the norm?

I refused to believe it so I set forth to do a little research on my own.  A friend of mine who visits France every summer, spends this vacation in a small French town.  He was visiting one weekend and we got onto the discussion of marchés- and he pointed out something I didn't even consider...

Market Etiquette
 The fact that there is a certain way to behave, to show respect, it all relies on you.  I have spent the last few months trying to figure this out and I think I finally got it down.

  • Respect the Product:  When shopping in the marché, don't just go and grab all the fruits testing for their ripeness.  Look at them, wait, if a sign says self service- then be free to do so.
  • Ask the Vendor:  It shows an enormous amount of respect to ask the vendors questions about their product, when was it picked; when would it be best used by; which is your favorite?
  • Respect the Vendor:  This is the MOST important, when buying a product from the marché, ask the vendor directly... don't go grabbing for yourself.  Asking is simple and actually saves you time.  What do I mean by asking?  I mean tell the vendor you would like 500 grams of tomatoes.  They will pick the ripest for you, and always get exactly the grams/kilograms you asked for.  It also builds a relationship- and often they'll give you a deal on the product.
  • Say Thank You:  I know it seems minimal, but this simple little phrase and a 'bon journée' represents the fact that you are respecting the French culture.
  • Don't Be Offended:  If the vendor is abrupt or even quick with talking to you- it's their livelihood to sell the products and quickly.. they aren't mean people, they just are nice farmers who may not be that sociable.
Some marchés that I find very successful in the vendors and the products being sold and remember, Marchés are not open on Mondays...

You really can get a good deal; I bought all the veggies in the photo below for only €8 and the lemons were only €1!!

My Favorite Marchés:

Quai Victor Augagneur:  51 commerçants at it's maximum, sells a variety of products from cheeses to vegetables/fruits.  Has one of my favorite vegetable merchants, last time sold me some tomatoes and lettuce, very 'gently', picked out the perfect one.  Got lemons for €1.

Marché de la Croix-Russe:   On the Boulevard de la Croix-Russe, incredibly huge with 109 commerçants.  Sundays or Saturdays are the best day to go, very lively.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Current Events: Who are the Extreme Right?

Yesterday, all was calm in Place Bellecour.  Calm, peaceful... quiet.  It seemed as if everything was returning to normal- but suddenly the helicopter began circling overhead again.  Another riot?  More breakers in the street?

Upon research it turns out that a group of 150 of what are considered the 'Extreme Right' in France gathered at Place Bellecour.  Intent?  To destroy, mar and 'reprends la ville'.  The destruction from the 'casseurs' caused an uproar in their minds and they decided to gather and march down the street proclaiming their anger as French citizens.

The Extreme Right are considered close to Facist in France, are typically (and carefully) prejudice against any outsiders moving into France; they tend to express their ethnocentrism with pride.  Resembling a very modest version of the Tea Party in America- they are often in their own world and never come out to face opposition.

Both moving and disconcerting, this group marched from Bellecour to Place Ampère singing the 'Marseillaise (French Anthem)' and shouting, 'Les lyonnais avec les commerçants' or 'The Lyonnais with the store owners'.  The police descended back into the streets, blocking path after path towards the Place Ampère, simply to protect the group from and backlash of their actions.

Afraid of having a form of civil war in the streets of Lyon, the Police blocked the Extreme Right and forced them onto buses to transport them safely to a secure area.  There was no gas (thankfully) this time, but the tensions were high.  People in the crowd were debating with each other, we overheard one conversation...

Man 1:  This is ridiculous, this type of racism shouldn't exist.
Man 2:  Are you kidding?  These people don't even belong in France, they aren't even French!
Man 1:  Not French?  Sir I am French.  I was born in France.  My mother was not, but I was, so I am French.
Man 2:  This would never happen if we didn't have so many immigrants running the street.

Later a conversation between a Policeman and an observer...
Observer:  This is crazy, the Police are protecting them and taking them home even though they have caused a disruption?
Policeman:  You think we are a replacement for TCL?  We're not taking them home.
Observer:  Well where are you going to take them then?
Policeman:  Read tomorrow's news and you'll see.
Teenager:  Officer, I think it's ridiculous all this stuff, it's crazy!
Policeman (to teen):  You talk too much.
 That was the end of THAT conversation.  The funniest thing was that the observer was sipping a beer while discussing this.  I was tempted to snap a picture, but in reality that would have been dumb.

Mixed emotions in France right now, we all feel a little anger towards the 'breakers' but it's important not to generalize and assume a certain group did it.  In any riot or hostile situation in any country there will always be those types of people who will take the opportunity to use the chaos to gain something.. looting or not.

Here's the video of the event we captured from yesterday:


Be careful out there...


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Advice: Staying Fit in France

I remember it well, my first visit to beautiful France.  I was staying with Bri's family, every night was a culinary adventure... I was content with the pastries in the morning... the afternoon snack with sugary aperitif drinks and chips... the huge dinners with crispy baguettes and limitless cheese.

I was in Lyon, France last summer on a visit.  At the beginning of the summer I weighed in around 127 lbs (my average) and left weighing about 143 lbs.  It was incredible.  In about 2 months I had gained more than 10 lbs.

It happened again... in the winter time.  I had came back to the states, and cut out fats/carbs... whatever.  Dropped down once again to 129 lbs; but came back from the visit another 12 lbs heavier!! What the HECK!?

Is it possible to live in France with it's culinary wonders, and not gain weight?  Well.  Here is 10 tips I've come to discover during my 4 months here..

  1. Limit the Fatty Breakfasts:  I like to treat myself on Saturdays.  I'll have that beautiful crispy almond croissant... I'll enjoy it... but only once a week.  I don't stop off at the Patisserie and buy chocolately delights during the week.  I savor it- and it really makes me anticipate it.  My normal breakfast is a small bowl of oatmeal and a piece of whole wheat toast with butter/jam.
  2. Take advantage of Velo'v:  We live in a city in which public transport is rampant, but the Velo'v system is so superior.  Take advantage and buy a week's pass, bike around the city.  Bike through the park.
  3. Visit a Marché:  Buy your veggies and fruits from the marché!  Remember that here the prices are 50% lower than in the States, so take advantage.  You don't have to shop at Lidl or Marché U for everything.  I do Monday super market for the necessities, and then Tuesday marché for my fruits/veggies.  I just recently bought 5kg of fruits/vegetables for €12.  You cannot beat that.
  4. Plan the Dinners:  I sit down on Sunday, when everything in France is closed... and I make a list.  I figure out what I plan to make.  I figure out what ingredients I have/don't have.  In these plans I always ensure there's a vegetable that isn't the potato.
  5. Eat Lunch:  People have told me they skip lunch.. I say don't.  Even if you snack on an apple at 3 pm, eat something.  It keeps the metabolism working until dinner... and when we sleep our metabolism tends to slow, so if we incorporate dinner, we'll be less hungry during dinner.
  6. Alcohol.. Oh Alcohol:  Drinking is so part of the French culture it's forgotten that sugary drinks and beers are packed with calories and carbohydrates.  Limit the drinking.  Maximize the water.  I drink one glass of red wine a night (good for you), if you are at a party, try choosing the clear liquids sans soda or juice.  A vodka on ice.  White wine.
  7. The Bread:  France and bread are inseparable, like lovers that have known eachother too long.  The habit of having a daily bread is normal.. but limit yourself.  Bread tends to be a tummy filler during a meal, but it's better to use it to compliment the meal... not gorge yourself.
  8. The Pyramid:  You know, 5-7 veggies, all that bit.  Maximize the use of lean proteins (veal, fish, turkey, chicken, eggs) and minimize the use of fatty proteins (bacon, steak, pork other than the loin).  Cheese in France is good for you, but heavy in fat... just be aware.
  9. Apple Cider Vinegar:  This is a vinegar made from apples... in it's organic form it has a weird swimmy thing in the bottle... about 2-3 tablespoons of this in a tall glass of water (you drink it) is a great way to reduce water-weight and help keep the system in check.  I drink first thing in the morning, before my coffee or breakfast.  If I get a craving in the middle of the day, I drink it before lunch.
  10. Keep Hydrated:  As always, drink lots of water.  I carry around a bottle and try to promise myself to finish two of them a day.  It's hard in a country where wine dominates the meals and coffee breaks are rampant... but remember, restauarants are required by LAW to provide water when asked... for free.
Well, all the best of luck.. it's absolutely normal to gain weight initially when moving to France.  Our bodies in the U.S. are used to high-sugar, high-fat diets.  In France it's a different way of eating.. so it adjusts.  The 10 above tips have helped me lose about 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) since September... it's a slow process, of course, but it's better than packing on 12 lbs in 2 months!!

A Bientôt..


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Story Time: Involved in a Riot

I live next to Place Bellecour in Lyon, and yesterday was one of those days that I look back and say to myself, self, did that actually happen?

The day started normal, coffee and some oatmeal, watching some news.  My school was closed from the foreboding warnings of manifestations; apparently the previous manifestation in 2005 caused enough damage to take the warning seriously and stop the courses for the day.

Brian and I watched images flicked on television of riots, burning cars- and the ticker under the news; "URGENCE:  Incedencie à Place Bellecour en Lyon"

Holy Crap.  Instantly we got dressed and wandered outside- this was around 12:40pm mind you- and nothing much was happening.  The rioters were surrounding the police, pelting them with rocks.
Right outside our door, 12:45pm...
We decided to go ahead and get Brian to work.  I sat around and tried to study, as the sirens and the helicopters passed.  I wandered to my little market in the 7ème... and as I began my trek back on Velo'v I saw a black plume of smoke floating from the sky... I didn't have my camera but I snapped a photo with my Blackberry to send to Twitter...
Great. Now the burning starts.  on Twitpic 
Not very good quality, but the black smoke in the picture represents a car burning down the street.

I went home, marched upstairs and locked my doors.

Around 4:30 pm, Brian returned home and was very excited.  He told me there was some "Crazy shit" going on outside, and that "Rue Victor Hugo was absolutely massacred".  I threw on my shoes, my jacket and ran out the door with him.  We managed to snap these photos of the damage...

Advertisement destroyed 
Micromania got the worst...
Metro destroyed
Telephone Booth destroyed

Another broken advertisement..

A lot of broken glass and cell phone cameras.  It was like walking into a war zone.  It only got worse when we returned to Place Bellecour to film some of the action... as the Police started gathering we realized it's because they planned to 'Gas Bomb' the entire square, which meant that they were going to pelt everything in sight with gas to get everyone out of the square.  We were in the square and yes, we got gassed.  What does it feel like?  It feels like someone took jalapeno peppers and made it into dust and blew it all over my face.  My eyes teared up, my throat burned, I couldn't breath... we ran.

People in Bellecour
More gas
Gas Clears
Add caption

We decided then it was time to head home... but the street we were on was blocked by the Police..
We were blocked from home..
No one could pass. We had to walk around the block towards the Quai to get to home.. and then we saw this outside of our door...
The fountain..
Yes, that's a trashcan in the fountain...

Leftover Gas Pellet
Leftover Gas Pellet... see the scorch marks?

Rue des Marronniers
Standing on Rue des Marronniers- incredibly it's locked up.. empty..

Today is a new day.. but what a clean up the city of Lyon is gonna have to do. I've been hearing it was one of the worst riots in a long time- all we can do is wait. Gas is running out around France due to the gas workers on strike, SNCF is running part time, same. Public transport is unreliable. Schools are closing.

It's truly an incredible time to live in France.. and I don't regret it one bit. I'll keep you posted if anything new happens, until then, here's the video I made showing the events of October 19, 2010 in Lyon.

Video of October 19 2010 in Lyon

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Culture Shock: My Weird Inbetween Place

I'm not quite French- I'm aware of that as I open my mouth in class and read in my 'A-marry-can' voice.  I'm not quite American, which I see as I slowly lose touch with some of the tendencies of American culture... what am I?

Over the weekend I went to a party with Bri that was hosted by a Quebecois.  Unfortunately for her, Quebec people aren't really liked by French people, fortunately for her, her accent was perfect and could barely sense a trace of the duck-like Quebec French on her breath.

As for me?  She hated me.  It was apparent as she trapsed her boyfriend over to introduce him to Bri and in doing so failed to even acknowledge my existence.  Went something like this:

Her:  Salut, ça c'est Brian, on a travaillé ensemble a la bibliothèque l'année dernière.  (she flicks her eyes towards me, then pretends like I don't exist), et oui!

Brian shook hands with the guy, and I prepared some brief statements to say, 'Hi!  How are ya!' for after she would introduce me, but it never arrived.  She said she had something to attend to, then parted.  He followed.  I stood there agast... yup.  Quebec hates America- they must... or at least this one hates me.  It made me think real hard about who I wanted to spend my time with.  I tried to be around Americans but only found myself frustrated and confused as to why I didn't get the jokes or the behaviors.  I try to be around French but I get lost in the conversation and make language mistakes that make them giggle but me embarrassed.

It's weird being one foot in/one foot out of two cultures.  I can see so many difference between the two and I am adjusting to what I prefer...

Americans.  The loudness and pretentious attitude of being American (it's normal, I'm controlling that now, but I was so loud when I first arrived), the habit of hating silence and having to fill the conversation with completely incoherent and random thoughts to avoid the dreaded, SILENCEThe flaky nature of friendship, or even worse the nod of the head in the street when you see someone you know?  The act of being a young American, namely binge drinking as it's illegal until we're 21 in the States.  The concept that everone speaks English, so I'm gonna speak it loud and proud.

But then there's the opposing side.

The French.  The fact that during conversations is totally normally and not considered rude to completely interrupt someone's thought or sentence- as long as you get it in loud and proud.  The fact that they can get completely lost in my American-French accent and vice versa.  The lack of decent take-out food for those days I really want to just watch crappy TV and eat Indian Food.. (well that's more of my personality conflicting with France.)  The fear of looking into some guys eyes on the street... because then they'll feel invited to comment in vulgar French on your ass-bits, your chest-bits.  Awful.  The Police are absolutely fearful of crime here, and would prefer to stand in groups and bust drug dealers than to bust a man beating another man in Guillotière.

But in the end of reflecting.. I realize the key things that are different.  There are no tea party candidates debating like retards on television.  There is no Fox News reciting the latest lies against the Obama administration.  There are thousands of people protesting against the movement of a retirement age, following their tradition of communicating what they want to the Government.

Ugh.  I dunno.  All I know is that the more time goes on the more I am losing the ability to connect to America and Americans, and the more I am being pulled into France and the French people... oh and some Europeans in general.

The problem is that even though I prefer to envelope in the culture- I still face a slight language barrier and it's hard to be 100% into anything if you can't communicate effectively.

I'll continue to persevere.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Advice: Top 5 Lyon Restaurants So Far...

I went to dinner on Saturday night and it got me thinking about my favorite Bouchons and Restaurants around Lyon... here's a little list of some places that have stolen my heart and my stomach.. the five best I can remember... these are not in particular order because they are all special for different reasons.

Les Fines Geules (16 rue Lainerie)
Great little bouchon located in the 5ème that we came across by chance.  I had the gazpacho soup, the fish.. and it was really quite delicious.  Menus range from €19 to €27... but a definite favorite and one you should try.

Le Kys (18 Quai General Sarrali)
Has the best grenouilles that I have had in Lyon so far.  It's fairly expensive, you need a reservation for dinner here- but it's nice for a special occasion or a birthday!

Dans la 'Rue des Marronniers'

Chabert et Fils AND les Trois Cochons (11 rue des Marronniers)
Located on that legendary street, both of these restaurants are very typical Lyonnais with very inexpensive prices on their menus (€20 maximum).  It has some dishes that are not for the faint of heart (pig feet, cow intestine sausage) but it's a definite reflection of Lyon classics.

La Mère Jean (5 rue des Marronniers)
This little gold mine is incredibly small in size, almost one that someone would walk by with the fear of smothering- but it's just that.. Grandma's kitchen.  The food is incredibly filling and great quality, I had steak.. with a cheese sauce.  The entire menu is only €22.. and worth every penny.  You leave there waddling home.

Le Caveau (5 Place Antonin Poncet)
Hey, with a menu for only €15; you can't go wrong.  It's not the best bouchon, but for the price of the food it's incredibly well done- we ate there and were incredibly full at the end.  Really delicious and well done... and hey- great for a HANGOVER.  :)

Happy restauranting!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Advice: Find a Job, Find a Festival.. Find ANYTHING!

I was surfing around the net the other day trying to help a close friend find a job (her French is very minimal, so I was reading through posts) and I fell upon this little goldmine- that resembles a Craigslist in Lyon.


Lyonweb has a variety of different information, a guide to Lyon, employment offers, babysitting offers... it's really a hub for all this information in Lyon.

It also has information on clubs/bars in Lyon as well as festivals that are happening at this time.

It's a great little pocket of information... and it's ONLINE!  YAY!

Visit:  www.lyonweb.net

As a warning, it's all in French... otherwise- enjoy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

What-What: La Cuisine de Lyon

Since I lived on 'Rue des Marronniers', I was inspired to write a post about 'La Cuisine Lyonnaise'.  Remember, my street, has about 12 different 'bouchons'; renowned and.. well.. frankly CHEAP.

Shall we?

Lyon cuisine is a regional specialty much like most regions of France claim- the difference is the homey atmosphere that comes along with the meal, as well as the multitude of animal by-products used in several of the well-known dishes.

Several famous chefs started or succeeded in this region, two off the top of my head are of course; 'Paul Bocuse', which is a name that cannot be missed if you live in Lyon, and 'Jacques Pepin', equally as known- except he started here and then moved on to success in America.

Starting from the aperitif to the desserts- this regions has lists of specialties that I will try to explain and detail briefly.

A Typical Lyonnaise Meal...

Kir, unmixed.

The Aperitif
This begins with a drink called, 'kir'.  Kir is made with a blending of a sparkling wine or white wine and the 'crème de cassis bourgouignenne'.  It's very sweet and resembled a blackberry syrup- although the actually English name is 'black currants'.

For a snack, it is typical to eat fried pig fat which resembles fried pork skins in America.  It's crispy, and Lyonnaise cuisine introduces it in the beginning because they are known for their 'pork products'.

After everyone is done crunching on pork grisle and drinking the Kir; in Lyon we move onto entrance.  There are several choices for this course.. so I'll be listing.
  • Saucisson:  Different varieties of dried sausages, often pork, served sliced with bread and mini pickles
  • Gateaus:  It's fairly common in Lyon to eat 'salty cakes' for entrance, these are often like the way Banana bread is made, but made salty with livers or tuna.
  • Salade Lyonnaise:  Super specialty made with lettuce and bacon.. plus a poached egg.  It's like a breakfast salad.
  • Fried Tripe (innards):  We start here with the entrails of cows.  Breaded and fried... keep an open mind!

 Plats Principaux
  • Black Sausage:  A cooked sausage made of blood...
  • Andouillette:  Not to be confused with 'andouille' from the Creole cuisine in Louisiana.  Don't be invited by the description in french of 'fraise' because it doesn't resembled strawberries- it's intestines cooked into sausage form.. and I've tried this.  It.. well.. an 'acquired taste'. 
  • Le Sabodet:  Pork head sausage.
  • Poulet a la fricassee:  Chicken cooked in a creamy garlicky sauce, very delicious.
  • Gratin Dauphinois:  Potatoes cooked simply with garlic and cream.
  • Les Quenelles:  This is a forcemeat of seafood, often served in a creamy 'languistine' sauce, very delectable and super rich.
  • (Noel) Cardon:  A type of plant vegetable cooked in a cream sauce, often for Christmas.
  • Tartiflette:  A GREAT hangover food, basically like a hot potato salad with bacon, reblochon and cream.  Super dense.
Les Fromages
Lyon has several cheeses that are specialties to the region:  St. Marcellin (soft and subtle, goat);  St. Felician (also soft, creamy) and the Reblochon (melty and works well in sauces or melted dishes, not often served as a 'cheese platter' item.

Les Desserts
Marzipan in Lyon

 Things that are 'praliné' are kind of resemblant of the candy coating in 'boston baked beans'.  Crunchy and red.  Les bugnes come out for Mardi Gras, and are fluffy donuts, often referred to as 'beignets' in Louisiana.  A real cultural speciality is the 'cuisson de Lyon' which is like little almond paste pillows, often these are made into speciality shapes... 'Marzipan' in English.

Wine in Lyon
Is often tied to the 'Beaujolais' region of France, common in red wines.  Learn more here about these types of wines.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Advice: French Slang Week 4

Coucou, toute le monde... alors.. ici c'est 'français familier'.. WEEK 4... happy learnings!

Se tirer:  to leave, (fr. sou. s'en aller, se casser)

Gonfler:  inflated, or annoy someone (fr. sou. énerver ou ennuyer)

Une baraque:  a house, (fr. sou. un maison)

Soûler:  verb of being bored, annoyed (fr. sou. énerver ou ennuyer)

Crécher:  to live somewhere, (fr. sou. habiter)

Péter un cable:  1. get pissed, 2. become crazy  (fr. sou. 1.  se fâcher;  2. devenir fou)

Cap:  capable, (fr. sou. capable)  In French, they used a lot of 'abbreviations', this is one.

Ras le bol:  I've had it up to here!  (fr. sou. s'en marre)

Dégage:  Go away!  (fr. sou. laisser)

Causer:  Speak...  (fr. sou. parler)

Braire:  literally, to bray like a donkey, often used when someone speaks back or speaks strongly, (fr. sou. parler fort)

Se pointer:  1. to arrive, 2. to be present somewhere  (fr. sou. 1.  arriver, 2. se presenter qqp)

Belèze:  Basically a really muscl-y guy, (fr. sou. un homme musclé, costeau)

File une tornogle:  Hit someone, (fr. sou. frapper)

Piaule:  Bedroom, (fr. sou. une chambre)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Culture Shock: Going through the Phases

About 6 months ago I wrote about something called 'culture shock'... and over the weekend I realized I am experiencing it at this moment.  There's four stages in culture shock.. and it happens to those of us who are staying in a country for an 'extended' amount of time.  In my case there's no official end to this extension- but for many of you.. even a year abroad in an exchange brings these emotions..

Let's start with a chart..

So. Predeparture ups and downs are pretty much the stress involved in leaving.  I experienced this with my family in Portland, I was stresses, edgy, easily agitated- cried a lot.

The plane landed in London, I passed the train to Lyon.. and suddenly everything was so bright I noticed things that were amazing about Lyon... that honeymoon stage.

I even would say goodnight to Fourvière every night in the summer, because I loved it that much.

It's been about 3 1/2 months since I started living here, and the past four days have indicated that I have officially hit the third state, true culture shock and acute homesickness.  I even had this thought last night that I would give anything to see my parents and my brother just once.. just a snuggle.  Just a take-out dinner in front of the television where we watch silly movies.  I am homesick.. and with that comes this indescribable anxiety, like this fear, asking myself;  how am I going to see my parents?  When will I go home next?  French language is so hard... I read like a 2 year old.  Worse, Bri is the brunt of all this.  I shout, I throw things, I whine.. and he does what he can...
Bri:  You want me to get take-out?  We can eat Indian and watch TV!
Horrible.  Horrible for me, horrible for him.

What's worse though is I find myself in an odd position to be without really.. well.. good friends.

So what happens next is the adaptation stage where I find a medium between the two countries and I find a way to be happy.

And so, 'j'attends'.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Advice: French Slang Week 3

I'm a little late getting this posted because.. well.. frankly I lost my notes- but refound!  Here's week 3 of 'Français Familier'..  it's a bit smaller than previous weeks, but still filled with useful things to know.

Des cames:  Drugs (My professor really pressed that someone should know this!) 
Un camé:  An addict, a druggie.  (fr. sou. une drogué)
Un bosser:  Work, workplace.  (fr. sou.  un travail) 
Être à la bourre:  To be late.  (fr. sou.  être en retard)
Avoir quelqu'un dans le nez:  To really detest someone.  (fr. sou. detester qqn)
Les clopes:  Cigarettes.  (fr. sou.  Les cigarettes)
Filer:  Borrow or Leave depending on context.  (fr. sou. prêter, donner, partir)

Some of the meanings of 'coup'   (In French, 'coup' has multiple meanings.  Here are some familier ones):
Donner un coup de main:  Help someone out, (fr. sou.  aider qqn)
Prendre un coup:  Take a glass, like.. something to drink.  (fr. sou.  boire qqs)
Donner un coup du visage:  Hit someone,  (fr. sou.  frapper qqn)
Faire un mauvais coup:  Do something bad to someone,  (fr. sou.  faire qqs mal a qqn)
Vouloir un coup:  Really bad.  Our professor said it's used for when a man wants a hooker to 'service' him.  Not used in common context.  (fr. sou.  vulgar... c'est quand un homme veut un service d'une prostitute)

The meanings of 'caisse'
À la caisse/cassier(e):  cash register, or a cashier.  (fr. sou.  cassier, qqn qui vend qqs au supermarché)
Une caisse:  A car,  (fr. sou.  une voiture)
Mettre quelques choses dans une caisse:  Put your things in a box.  (fr. sou. mettre qqs dans un carton ou boîte)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Advice: A Day Trip to Perouges

Perouges... if you don't know of it you should.  It's a little town just North East of Lyon... and one of the oldest little surviving towns.  It dates back to the middle ages, think like 1226 AD... that's about 780 years old for those not good in math.

It's just like in Beauty and the Beast, a very small middle age town, and a must see if you live in Lyon.

Bri informed me recently that it's so close to Lyon one could hop a train, spend a day, hop a train back.  Thus I got the clever idea to inform YOU of...

A Day Trip to Perouges

Step 1:  Purchase tickets..
One can buy the tickets the day of, or before.  The prices for this little town don't change.  Go to the SNCF Website to book the tickets ( DESTINATION is actually 'Meximieux' which is next door), or buy directly from the train station.  My recommendation is to leave around 11am, after breakfast.  Trains are about 30 minutes in length.
Step 2Read on the History..
This town is about 780 years old, so, one can imagine that it's full of history.  Their website offers the information in French.. but here's a brief list of things to see...
  • Porte d'en Haut: Old gateway made of stone.  It's the entrance to the city, where often merchants would come through with supplies.
  • Porte d'en Bas:  Another entrance way with a saying scribbled into the stone.. very interesting to see.
  •  Place du Tilleul:  Best preserved part of the city, the website informs that one can see a tree from the 14th century and a house from the 13th century.
  • Rue des Rondes:  A street that used to be the place for the rich and nobles.
  • State of St Georges:  Super old wooden statue depicting the town's father saint, saint georges.
  • Church in Perouges:  Church dating to the 15th century.. can see destruction from vandalism from the revolution.
  • Rue des Princes:  During the middle-ages, this was the street with the boucheries, boulangeries... etc.  Remember in Beauty and the Beast?  Well, it's kind of like when she's prancing around through the city singing 'bonjour'.
  •  L'Ostellerie:  A hotel originating from the 13th Century.. super old and coooool!

Step 3:  A Plan to Visit
My recommendation for the visit is as follows...
  1. Start by touring the city, visit the main sights.  Read the history, visit the churches.  This will only take about 2 hours, as the town is very small.
  2. Eat lunch at a local restaurant, I recommend 'les terrasses de perouges' because they offer a 'midi menu' at only 14 Euro... pas cher!
  3. Stop by and send some postcards to home, remember small towns like this often charge a lot for a postcard, so be selective who you are sending them to.
  4. At the end, before heading home, stop by a boulangerie or patisserie and buy a specialty of the town called 'la galette au sucre' or sugar cake.  It's delicious, and something to bring home to remember the trip to perouges.

 Other Information on Perouges..
  • They have a yearly medieval festival, around the beginning of June.  It costs 25 Euro, offers a banquet as well as drinks... but only has limited spaces, so as soon as they start accepting reservations you gotta jump on it.
  • Perouges Christmas Market is only 11th and 12th of December.  Saturday December 11th, of this year, at 6pm will be the lighting of the city.
Happy visit..!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Joys of Packages from Home...

We don't have certain things here in France.. and so my mom likes to send lovely packages of things I can't get here...

As a quick note of advice- family members from America can send a 'flat rate' box filled to the brim for only $55.00!  I mean, as much as possible in this box for only 55 bucks!!  Pretty incredible I think.. plus it only takes about 7 days to get here from the NW..!

Follow my photos on my most recent gift..
My Beautiful 16 Pound Present
Commencing the Unwrapping
Brian dug in to help open..
Filled to the BRIM.. see the Jiffy.. Baking Soda, Flavored Gum, Fun Straws..
(From left to right)  24 ounces Organic Local Portland Coffee, Bottle of Organic Maple Syrup, Jiffy cornbread mix, lined notecards, Charleston chews, lined notebook paper, 'Sookie Stackhouse' novels, mesuring spoons, another box of Charleston chews, trashy American gossip mags... oh and A LOT OF CINNAMON GUM.
Brian now loves Charleston chews...
Local Longbottom Portland coffee and a sleep mask.. love it.
I can think of a few things that go well in 'care packages' from the states... starting with:
  • Coffee.. I find Portland coffee way better than French coffee (sorry France)
  • Trashy Gossip Mags (Star, Examiner) in ENGLISH
  • American Books/Novels
  • Charleston Chews
  • Peanut Butter Cups/Reese's Pieces
  • Jell-O Mix
  • Jiffy Cornbread Mix
  • Brown Sugar
  • Peanut Butter (so expensive here)
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Clothes (so much more expensive here)
  • Cinnamon Flavored chewing gum (the French tend to hate this flavor)
  • Lined Notebooks (they are all in graph, bleh)
I'm sure there's more.. but that's about what I can spit out right now.

Happy packages...


    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Story Time: Visiting a French Doctor

    I was prepped.  I watched Michael Moore's movie, especially the clip regarding doctors in France.. and I was ready to try it.  It's one of those things I don't like in any country, but I knew that I had to experience it... and besides it wouldn't break my bank.

    A Little Background
    Since I was a kiddo I always had problems with my knees, they are movey-aroundy (not a very good descriptor, best I could come up with) and they hurt when I walk or run long distances.  When the weather changes they hurt worse.  We also assumed it was 'Childhood arthiritis' and the last time we got them checked the radiologist who did the x-rays was looking for the wrong thing.. so it always went undiagnosed.  I have insurance in America, but I chose to not go mostly because in the past they always gave the wrong diagnosis- and it was expensive to see a specialist.


    Two weeks ago I was biking, as usual, when the bike slipped on some dirt/rocks near the Université Lyon II and I went sliding under my bike.  The pain was absolutely excruciating.  It swelled up the first day, then I could barely bend it for a week.

    Two weeks later, Bri convinced me to see a doctor.. and then I found out so much...

    Finding a Doctor in France
    The system is different than I was used to.  In America I call up Kaiser, they set me up an appointment and that's that.  Here you have to select your doctor, who is always a private practitioner.  I used this website:  Nomao MedecinsWhen you are looking, you need to look for 'Medecin Generale' because it means an all around doctor.  If you need services at the house, it's, 'SOS Medecins'.  My particular doctor was 'Docteur Watteau' in the 2ème.

    How it Works
    Basically you call the doctor, ask for an appointment (usually within the next day) and that's it! Here's my story...

    Me and the French Doctor
    I wandered towards the building, my nervousness becoming worse.  I was worried I couldn't speak, or maybe he'd think I was a lazy American using the French System.  Luckily, on the way, a drunk man was playing flute so it kind of set the mood of heading into Disneyland.

    The office was set in an apartment building, which means he converted an old apartment into his working office.  I wandered up the 5 flights of stairs... and went in through the door.  It was a small office, and a small waiting room..

    I sat in the waiting room and began snooping around a little bit.. when I caught a glimpse of something that really threw me off my horse.
    I blew it up so you can see.. do you see??? DO YOU??

    €22.00 for a visit with the doctor, and only €32 for a visit at the home.  I almost peed myself in the office because I recalled my mother not calling emergency services for her back one time because it was too expensive.  This guy would come visit for €32.  Not bad.

    And one thing is clear, you don't need health insurance to get that rate.

    The Actual Visit
    So the time came for me to go back.  The door swung open and this very serious looking doctor stood there.  A medical student in her 5th year was there to help, and she was warm.  It began by them asking me questions about what happened.  Scared the crap out of me because this doctor was very intimidating- not fake niceness, all business.

    I was asked to go sit on the table-y thing, and they both came over and begin poking and prodding my thighs, kneecaps, lower shins, testing my movement.. after about 3 minutes the doctor looked at me and explained.  At first I thought he was full of it, because what I understood was...
    "You have fat thighs, and so your knees are bad.  You need to get more muscle in your fat thighs."
    And I was like, in my head of course, I don't need a pretentious French doctor to charge me 22 bucks for telling me my thighs are big.

    In the end he wrote up two notes, one for the ability to get physical therapy, the other for some creams and pills.  He also told me the name of the problem, in French, and I had no idea what he said.

    Post Visit
    I was pissed when I went home.  I thought, God.  He could of at least pretended to be nice and tell me... and then as I typed the name of the condition into the translator, and began to read.. suddenly my mind changed.

    Within 10 minutes, Doctor Watteau explained a problem that I've had since a kid, and it made sense.

    He didn't say my thighs were fat he said because of a condition called, "Patellofemoral Syndrome" my back of leg muscles were stronger, and my front thigh muscles were weakened because of over-working to keep the kneecaps up.

    Every symptom I have, was exactly this syndrome.

    I have been able to figure out ways to strengthen these muscles so my knees and shins don't hurt as bad, and realized, even though French Doctors are.. well.. scary as Hell.. they are incredibly intelligent and don't rely on pharmeceutical drugs to fix things.  In America, doctors get benefits from drug companies to sell drugs.. I honestly can say I don't think any doctor in the US would tell me to basically strengthen my legs to fix it.  They'd prescribe an array of un-needed drugs so they meet a sales quota.

    Going to the doctor in France is 10x better than in the United States, and 10x less a scam.  I don't see why the U.S. can't have the same.. affordable and quality healthcare.  If you have a maladie, just go, try it once.

    p.s. there are no death panels, and also, I didn't have to wait forever to see the doc.  It was the next day, 5 minute waiting time.


    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Quick Note..

    I went to the doctor today.. so tune in tomorrow for a complete explanation and my story of 'going to a doctor in France'...

    Long day, so no post interesting today... :(!

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Things So Different in France..

    I was crossing the street yesterday and as I edged across the street and the little green man called me on, a car swerved and turned the corner quickly.  I paused like a deer in the headlights, and noticed others didn't even react, so I continued crossing.

    Then I thought, Wow.  This is really one of those things to add to my list of Things I May NEVER Get Used To in France..

    So I was inspired to create a list...

    1. Crossing the street.  In Oregon they stop WAY far back.  In France their lights are up your ass.. not literally of course.
    2. Making a doctor's visit.  In France you have to pick a doctor, call them, make an appointment.. no hospitals or insurance companies.
    3. No small talk. Ever.  You know, at the cash register, and you are like, 'oh yes, and my dog loves that brand, hahaha' here, they scan, you stand, you pay, 'bon journée'.  It's honesty, but it's also one of the reasons French have a stereotype of being rude.
    4. Water in toilets. Half of the water in the toilets in America.
    5. Pink toilet paper.  Makes me feel weird. I dunno why.
    6. Disgusting public toilets.  I'll admit, Oregon has some nice public pee spots.
    7. Being touched and squished on the Metro.  Look.  I'm American I need at least a 4 inch perimeter around me to feel comfortable... in France that doesn't exist.
    8. American television.  Everyone on TV is dubbed in French, it feels awkward to watch Friend's and have 'Rachel' be called, 'Raaa-sheelll' and then I end up debating with Brian the real name. Horrible.
    9. Notebooks are graph paper.  It's a pet peeve.  I like college rule, lined paper.  Every fekkin' notebook in France is graph.  I hate graph.
    10. Cheap veggies.  It's still shocking to pick up 2 kilos of tomatoes and shell out 3 €... not sayin' I don't like it!
    11. Grocery stores not bagging, and beyond that, no option between 'paper or plastic'They throw everything past the register, and kind of like a video game, you have to grab it and stuff it into plastic bags.. sometimes those are provided, most times they are not and you have to bring your own.
    12. Grandmas in orthopedic high-heels.  Every woman in France wears high heels; the trend is dwindling, thank god for 'Fashion Boots' but Grandma's hold the tradition and scoot along in, I KID YOU NOT, orthopedic high heels.  And no I couldn't find an image, for some reason googling this gets me to porn.  Weird.
    13. Being interupted.  It's a cultural thing in discussion in France to interupt as you feel the need.
    14. Protests every weekend.  Every weekend someone is not happy about something and they make big ol' gatherings to show they are not happy.
    15. Sales are only TWICE a year.  It's incredible, sales in France only exist twice a year... that's something I can never get used to.  In the US there is always a sale.
    16. Mini Coffees.  All the coffee in France is served in tiny little cups- reminding me of when I played 'tea time'.  No free refills.  No giant cups.
    17. Aspirin in Fizzy Form.  All the pills in France that I've taken have been in fizzy form, which you put in water and it becomes liquid, like Alka Seltzer.
    18. The Exchange Rate.  I feel all awesome cause I have 100 bucks, in dollars, in my account.. but in reality it's only €70.  So sad.  Once I start working I'm sure I'll feel better.
    19. Grocery Stores.  I feel like the choices in the stores are so different than home.  Here cheeses are everywhere, giant aisles of smelly-good cheeses.
    20. The work week.  35 hours a week?  Woah.  Things here are closed on Sundays, even in the center of the city the grocery stores are closed- I find solace in my Corporate Honing Device in Starbucks in Bellecour.  People like time off in France.
    21. Social aide.  As a student I get a nice chunk of change from the French government- even though I'm not a French Citizen.  I also have cheap health care, if I get a job I get 5 weeks vacation and unlimited sick pay.  Cool cool cool.
    And that my friends is a short list, but a growing list, of things I may NEVER get used to while living in France.  We'll see.


    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Monday Week's Menu

    A few weeks back I wrote about the concept of planning meals ahead... I wanted to share my 'Sunday Plan' with ya'll as an example... and make it a habit to post on Mondays what I plan to make/eat during the week.

    Every Sunday I sit down with a piece of paper, internet, my cookbooks and my mind.. I determine what we're gonna eat for the week.. mostly dinners.

    I usually eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a snack at lunch and dinner is the big meal.

    Here's this weeks, I attached recipes if I found one.. as a note I often deviate from a recipe and make it my own.. however it helps to get an idea of how to make something.. oh and you might notice... I'm a HUGE fan of Food Network and it breaks my heart it doesn't exist in France:


    Monday October 4
    Skillet Rosemary Chicken
    +Eggplant & Zucchini sautée

    Tuesday October 5
    Pork & Fennel Ragout

    Wednesday October 6
    Marinated Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
    Grilled Veal Chops

    Thursday October 7
    Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
    +Buttery Croutons & Romano Melty Cheese Topping

    Friday October 8
    Chopped Salad Niçoise

    Saturday October 9
    Eat @ Chez Parents  (every two weeks or so we go visit his parents in Genas)


    Then I create a grocery list and where I will buy the product... I often buy everything that's meat related from Marché-U down the street from me because the prices aren't too high for meats.

    Vegetables are bought from the marché on Tuesday.

    Other necessities, like baking paper or sponges, I can feel not guilty and buy from Lidl.

    Bread, ALWAYS, at a boulangerie.

    Happy eating!


    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    What-What: Velo'v in France

    In 2005, in Lyon France, the city government and a highly popular advertising firm called 'JC Decaux' started a system of temporary bike usage around the city.  Since the launch in 2005, the bike spots have grown to over 350 around the city.. and usage has spiked.  JC Decaux enables prices to be kept low through their subsidies to the government- very helpful. Everywhere you look a person can see the bikes around the city- distinguishable by their red plastic handlebars and large covered wheels.

    The Velo'v Bike
    The Hardware
    Every bike has three gears, 1, 2 and 3.  The lowest is the easiest to ride, but the highest gets you there fastest.  Every bike can be located at a station.. stations usually have between 10-15 bikes, they are placed into the hole (metal goes into hole on the right hand side) and to be taken out one must put in their bike code/pass and choose the number, press the green button and pull it out.
    A station in the rain.. the big metal box is where one gets their pass
    Bikes are very inexpensive- depending how you purchase the pass.  A daily pass runs about €1; but you need to ensure you have at least €150 euro in your account to cover liability (in case of loss).

    Here's the breakdown:

    Type of Pass
    Cost of Pass
    Where to Purchase
    Amount of Time on Bike
    Daily (1 day)
    At Machine (w/ carte bleu)
    30 minutes
    Weekly (7 days)
    At Machine (w/ carte bleu)
    30 minutes
    Online, through inscription
    30 minutes
    *Técély Card
    Cost of Card + 1 month metro
    After you receive long term card,
    1 hour
    *For the telecy card you’ll need to do extra steps, detailed HERE 
    Locations/SpeedThey are located everywhere around the city of Lyon.. it is incredibly useful and faster then waiting for the Métro or walking.  There's a basket in the front.. allowing you to carry boulangerie items or other- and beyond that it's really fun!  It takes me about 15 minutes to get from Bellecour to Parc de la Tête d'Or, but much more enjoyable then squishing on the métro or the bus.
    To see all 350 locations, Velo'v has created a very easy to use map system on their website here . It's a touch and see, so you double click on a location and it shows the closest bike spots.
    NOTE: They also now have an Iphone Application- incredibly convenient when there are no spots left where you want them!
     Try it once, because once you try it you'll be addicted like the rest of France.  It's even spreading it's way across Europe... I'm waiting for the day a corporation in America will pick up on this and start offering the same!
    Here's a little video enjoyment.. me riding my bike though the parc...

    Until later,

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Advice: In Season Vegetables

    I recently went to the library in the 2ème and checked out a beautiful book (in French) about all these vegetables.. and so I listed and translated everything that's in season, since, well, it's October now!

    There's a new marché also I was told by Bri, along le 'Quai Claude Bernard'... near Lyon 2 in front of la rhône... It's apparently a marché open from 3-6pm!  An evening marché for those of us who can't get up at 6am.

    So here goes la liste!

    Carrots (carottes)
    Celery (celerie)
    Chestnuts (châtaine)
    Cauliflower (chou-fleurs)
    Brocoli (brocoli)
        green, new (vert nouveau)
    Brussel Sprouts (chou de Bruxelles)
    Squash (corge)
    Shallots (échalote)
    Spinach (épinard)
    Fenouil (same)
    Yellow Onions (oignons jaunes)
    Parsnip (panais)
    Green Pepper (poivron vert)
    Leeks (poireaux)
        Belle de Fontenay (sautéeing)
        Charlotte (sautéeing, purée)
        Red potatoes

    Allrecipes.com offers some awesome veggie recipes.. so I'd recommend giving them a look.  Vegetables are cheap and healthy... and hey, take advantage- because in the United States the food is always terribly expensive.. here's it's cheap cheap!

    Good luck!

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