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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Advice: My Favorite Food Stops

When I have time to really go all out- I go around to many different locations to buy up my food items.  Below is a list of my favorite places and why:

For Raw Meat:
Definitely, hands down, Boucherie Centrale on 2 rue Grenette in the 2ème arrondissement.  Ran by a father-son duo in a tiny little open shop the quality of the meat is very high.  I ordered a deux tranches de Mortadelle for a snack and it had the most amazing taste.  Their products are high quality and always delicious as well as 'normal' in price.

For Cheese:
At the marché st. Antoine:  On Saturdays at the marché st. Antoine on the quai there is a laitière and fromage vendor who sells the best products I've ever tasted... I don't remember the name but it's near the end of the market towards the North side, one of the last cheese sellers... they have a crême fermière that tastes like a buttery creme fraiche.  Try also their fromage chèvre cremeux.  Their eggs are also produced from 'les poulets heureux'... and for only 1.40 e for 6 eggs.
At a Fromagerie on 54(ish) rue de la Charité in the 2ème: My other favorite cheese place, they have many Lyonnais cheese specialties- such as the St. Marcelin for only 4 euro.

For Bread:
Le Garçon Boulanger on 37 rue de la Charité makes the best baguette I have ever eaten.  Made freshly every day, each baguette is different than another and they are often tossed into a pile in a basket.  They are specialized in levain and bio products- for the same price as other boulangeries.

For Veggies:
Either the marché, or I go to Bails Distribution in the 7ème... they are the suppliers for most restaurants in Lyon and the quality is very high.
For Spices:
Definitely Cap Epices on 39 rue de la Charité, just walking in is like getting into a haven of spices.  The owner is very kind and knowledgable on the product and the prices are cheaper than grocery stores with a better selection.  They have any kind of spice you can think of, spice mixes available in store and teas.

For Staples:
Such as canned foods, milk, etc, I usually purchase from the U-Express on 28 rue de la Charité- as their prices are normal and not reflected at "city prices".

For American/British Products:
Easy... Little Britain in the 6ème.  They have a variety of foreign items, especially the ones that I tend to crave (such as Dr. Pepper or Wheaties).  Great stop for vegetarian items as well.

For Wine:
It's not the most luxurious place in Lyon, but I really love Bons Vins de France... it's sort of a mix between the round toothless guy and the fact I can buy a litre of their homemade product for only 1.40 euro.. love it.

For Frozen Foods:
Obviously, Picard, who is a national chain that creates high-quality frozen items at moderate prices.  It's like walking into a frozen food paradise.

For Exotic Foods:
Any of the asian markets in Guillotière has cheap rice, cheap coconut milk and high quality imported goods at a cut of the prices.

That about wraps it up for my food places- it's quite a list... but I love shopping for fresh 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What-What: Holy Roasted Chicken

I was in high spirits yesterday morning after a great tutoring session and a beautiful sunny day.  I decided to use my getting fluent French and glide through the marché in a Julia Childesque fashion.  I pulled out my big ol' plastic bag and began slowly marching through the vendors, eyeballing the goods and smiling at the sellers.  The first thing I purchased was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen;

Le poulet rôti; or the roasted chicken.

In the marchés in France there are often 2 or so vendors with large portable roasting machines and about 50 chickens spinning at snail pace speed gettting a crispy skin and perfecting the art of the roast chicken.  Nothing added to the flavors, a little rub of some salt to start and the chickens get based throughout the roasting (of about 3-4 hours) and the smell is so enticing.

I couldn't resist when the marché man, who looks as if he'd been roasting chicken for years shouted:  "Poulet rôti, poulet rôti!  Seulement sept-euro et cinquante centimes!  Chaud!"  I stopped right in my tracks and ordered one on the spot.

"Venez avec moi, nous le choisisserons ensembles" he smiled back,  I followed him to a pile of roasted chickens and pointed to the darkest most crispiest skinned one.  "Celui-là" I pointed.

He wrapped it into a liquid proof bag, "Voulez-vous du jus, madamoiselle?"  I nodded, "Mais oui! Bien sûr!"  he deflt dipped the spoon into the pile of grease and piled into the bag.

A quick little tie, a smile, exchange of cash and I was off.

"Bonne journée et bonne weekend!" I said after taking my bag of meat.

The magic happened when I got home and decided to test a little piece- just to see what the fuss was all about.  I took the chicken out of his shelter and pulled a little on the leg, *POP* the meat fell right off the bone, I took a little nibble... holy roasted chicken... it was the best thing I had ever eaten... it was the true taste of a chicken without the fancy rubbings.  Better than the set it and forget it my parents used, this was not only a well roasted chicken but a happy chicken.

I ate a leg and I was in heaven... I was so pleased to know that tonight I will be having leftovers.

My recommendation- go to the marché on the quai St. Antoine on a Saturday and find the chicken dude who's in the center of the place... best chicken dude EVER.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Advice: At the Hair Salon

I have had the most incredibly busy week here on France side- while I had my mid-terms in my CIEF classes (worth 50% of the grade), Baby-Speaking work to do and my 8 students, I barely had time to breathe, eat or rest.  Yesterday afternoon marked the end of the week and by 7pm I was ready to relax over a lovely dinner at Chabert et Fils

If you have ever been to any of the Chabert restaurants- this is the original.  As a fair warning the food is incredily heavy in quantity and fat... aka by the end of the night we all had horrible stomach aches... but the tartare of Salmon, the 'Lyonnais quenelle' and the finish of the 'Baba au Rhum' was a delight and definitely a nice way to top a long week.

I've been thinking seriously lately about getting my hair cut and I wanted to give a run down on some lingo for those, like myself, afraid to hop into a French hair salon.

First off, the basics:
-Une/un coiffeur: Hair stylist
-Salon ou chez le coiffure:  Hair salon

There are many great salons located in Lyon, price doesn't necessarily mean quality or rapport of happy clients... so the best thing to do is to surf a bit.  From my findings here's some good salons in Lyon Centre:
  • Apartment 1616 rue des Archers, more expensive salon ($$$), gets an average of 4/5 stars on Yelp.
  •  Orlando Coiffure/Barbier4 quai Fulchiron, less expensive than Apartment 16, and uses scissors to cut hair contrary to the typical use of a razor.
  • Lounge Cut16 pl. du Mal Lyautey,  the thing I remarked about the rating was first off: 10% reduction with 'montrer d'un Petit Paumé'.  10% off of a hair cut is a pretty good deal... second it's about 39 bucks for a normal shampoo+cut+massage+style and only 50 bucks for a shampoo+cut+massage+oil treatment+style... not too shabby!

Now, time for some vocabulary first some basic terms to keep your eye open for:

Haircut: une coupe
Shampoo: le shampooing
Coloring: les couleurs
highlights: les mèches ou le bayalage (Weaving)
Set or styling: la mise en pli
Perm: la permanente
Haircare and treatments: les soins et traitements
A blow-dry or straightening: le brushing ou le lisse

Next, some more specific terminology you might here while in the chair:
your hair: vos cheveux (always masculine, plural)

Your type of hair:

fine: fins
thick: épais
oily: gras
dry: secs
mixed: mixtes
normal: normaux
curly: bouclés
frizzy: frisés
smooth: lisses
damaged: abîmés
dyed: colorés
permed: permanentés
dandruff: pellicules
cowlick: un épi

How you would like it, or you wear it: 
short or long: la coupe courte ou longue
layered: en dégradé crew cut: coupe en brosse 
blunt cut: au carré 
clean cut/well-defined: bien dégagée
asymmetrical: asymétrique
square tapered: style carré effilélayered on top: dégradé sur le dessus
short, layered look: une coupe courte tout en dégradéshort 'windblown' layered look: dégradé déstructuré
'just out of bed' look: indiscipliné

Some questions or comments to ask or tell the hair stylist:

  • I cut this out of a magazine. Do you think it would suit me? J’ai découpé ça dans un magazine. Vous pensez que ça m’irait ?

  • I’ve come to have the color touched up. Je viens pour me refaire ma couleur.

  • I just want the roots redone. Je veux seulement une coloration des racines.

  • I haven’t made up my mind about the color – a permanent or semi-permanent color. J’hésite pour la couleur – une couleur permanente ou une simple coloration.

  • Can you give me highlights? Vous pouvez me faire des mèches?

  • Is that possible with my hair type?  C’est possible avec mon type de cheveux ?
  • Would you prefer it to dry naturally or shall I blow-dry it? Préférez-vous un séchage naturel ou un brushing ? 
  • It’s too puffed up. Could you flatten it down a bit?  C’est trop gonflé, vous pouvez aplatir un peu ?

Just remember when getting your hair styled the following rules, and it won't end in tears, chopped up hair or you regretting ever moving to France.
  1. Study the vocabulary before going, be prepared to use the words that you need or even print them up beforehand.
  2. Bring several photos from magazines or internet from different angles to express even clearer.
  3. Be patient and don't be afraid to say, 'je n'ai pas compris'.
Over-all, bonne chance!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

What-What: Je m'en fou, je triche

I am a super fan of board games, from Monopoly to Scrabble, from Clue to Times Up- I adore arranging the board, playing the dice and moving the pieces.  The challenge of guessing from clues, figuring out and strategizing; it's almost like an addicition!

That's when my friend Sophie called me yesterday (she's French) to inform me that she and a few other people were going to finally go to le bar à jeux de société in the Croix-Russe.  I immediately said, oui, and we all met out in front of the statue on Place Terraux to walk there together.

First off, the name of the society is:  je m'en fou, je triche, or for those who are long-time members, la triche.  This non profit society rents out a little hidden room on la rue Réné Leynaud and has about 200+ games available.  Here's the process to join la triche:

  1. Go to the bar/salle and introduce yourself, ask if you can joindre la société.
  2. At the computer, type in your information, pay the 'adhesion fee' of 6e (free games for a year, no obligation to drink)
  3. Buy yourself a beer, if desired (only 8.50e a pitcher)
  4. Pick out one of the games from the hundreds and enjoy!
We ended up playing a game called Objets Trouvés which basically is a game of creativity and 'thinking outside the box'.  With the 6 of us it was definitely a joy, and for my French as a second language it was a bit of a challenge, but definitely do-able.

The challenge is to use 13 objects (see in the center) to describe a sentence on the card; there are 6 sentences and at random you must describe one of them.

Beer makes the game even more fun, and as everyone is arguing and laughing in French it makes life feel much less complicated-

If you are the kind of person who adores strategy or war-games, this place is the ticket; labelled by the time they take to play there are many many games in this category; just as there are simplier games for children- all is allowed at the 'salle de jeux'.

Basically, it's something to do, something to try and a great way to entertain some friends without having to host chez vous.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Advice: Sushi in Lyon

It's been quite awhile since I've been able to pound out a post- the start of classes, hours of work and my 8 students I tutor have been a bit of a work load; but now I have a bit of time to discuss a subject I find.. well.. gastronomically important.  Sushi.

I love sushi, in the United States I would eat sushi at least once a week at a little 'rolling' stop that had cheap (buck a plate) and delicious sushi.  In France, the sushi culture is still a thing of 'haut culture' so it tends to be more on the expensive side, and even more so sushi is usually ran by Chinese owners- so the quality tends to be different if not mauvaise. Chez moi the sushi joints are usually owned by Japanese or Koreans- which tend to have a more similar culture than the Chinese... but nonetheless I researched.

I've been doing lots of research and here's what I've found for sushi in Lyon at moderate prices:

Sushi King at Le Part-Dieu
Most reviews about this place said that it's not le meilleur but it satisfies the craving for sushi if needed for less expensive than the fancier places.  Tends to be between 4-6 euro for a plate of 6 maki rolls, still not the cheap U.S. prices, but affordable.

Gochi at the 2ème arr.
Gochi has gotten the highest reviews for the most affordable price, their lunch menu is 11.80e and comes with 6 plates roulant or rolling.  The best price is their menu à volonté for only 16e; which means unlimited sushi plates for less than 20 bucks!  Not too shabby...

Ze Sushi in the 2ème arr.
15 pieces of maki for about 13e; definitely not the cheapest place but it's received some top marks on quality and deliciousness.  As always, I recommend going for a mid-day snack, but is possible to go for dinner.  A great side note:  free delivery!  So, you're starving one night at your home and you can just tap out an order on their side and you are golden...

Bo Sushi in Villeurbanne
Average of 8-10e for a lunch time menu of about 10 pieces of sushi.  Not much more to say except it's located a bit far out from the center... and it looks like good quality sushi.

Are there any other recommendations for good sushi places?  These four are the ones I've heard people talkin' about, but there are many many sushi places in Lyon.  The trick is simply picking out the ones that are scams or escrocerie and picking out the ones that are the golden eggs.  Sushi is still a developing taste in France; as as you must know the French are gastronomes and protecting of their own cuisine.  Good luck and happy sushi-ing!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

What-What: The French Breakfast

When I first moved to France we would spend the weekends with Bri's family and they would bring us a typical French breakfast.

In the States we usually have our eggs, toast, bacon and a cup of coffee, sometimes we opt for pancakes or french toast.  In France a typical breakfast is much less food, much more carb and very heavy in fat.

The croissant, the flaky and buttery pastry that is sold all over France and at explosive prices in the States.  The croissant is the most common breakfast pastry in France and is usually eaten simply with a cup of café au lait.

These pastries are exceptionally heavy and often made by layering pastry over pastry smeared with butter.

A famous and delicious variation is called the croissant aux amandes and it is AMAZING.

The pain au chocolat is a variation on the croissant, made with the same ingredients except folded over a few sticks of chocolate.  A fresh pain au chocolat will be melty and seemingly fall apart.

Typically breakfast is light and eaten leisurely, a glass of orange juice can accompagny the breakfast.  If it's not the weekend, it is more common to have some biscottes smeared with butter and jam or some petits madeleines.  As everywhere in the world, one can also eat cereal or toast.. but eggs are always reserved for lunch or dinner.

Pancakes and french toast are considered a dessert and eaten after dinner.. but in my experience the French are open minded and having pancakes for breakfast can be perfectly appropriate (but not typical).  

I often will serve pancakes to Bri on the weekend, usually for brunch.. with some fresh sliced fruit and a nice crème fermière... delicious.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Instant Coffee Sucks

Brian's parents drink the stuff every morning before work- but I don't know how much sugar or milk they use to mask the flavor.

It tastes like old sock juice.

I'm down to my last bag of Long Bottom coffee my mom sent me back in December and I needed an afternoon pick-me-up.  All the friend people I know have this stuff in their cabinet- and I had a jar from like a year and a half ago.

I heated up water.

Me n Sock Juice
Tossed in 1 1/2 tsp of granulated instant coffee.




Repeat until contents are empty.

Living in France has some minor faults- the espresso is great, but it's not such a culture of big cups of coffee.  I am definitely missing the big fluffy couches and the ginormous lattés for only like 2 bucks.  Portland = stumptown, Lyon = sockjuice town.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When I Go to the Super Marché

I live in the center of Lyon; a lovely little apartment right along 'la rue des marronniers'.  I live in the center of Lyon; in an apartment on the 5th story... with no elevator.

What does this mean exactly?


Grocery shopping is a nightmare.  I should attribute this apartment to the 10 lbs I lost about 3 months after I moved in, but instead I can only think of how much of a nightmare going the grocery store can be.  The sweating, the heaving, the loss of breath.. the numbing of my arms.

Much like going to war, I have to "gear up"... and here's how it goes:

Two large plastic cloth bags, check.

Tissues for nose, check.

iPod securely in front pocket, buds in ears, check.

Carte bleue and U express point card in right pocket, check.

.85 centimes for my baguette in my left pocket, check.

Grocery list in right pocket, check.

And then I am off; I descend moderately quickly- the first two floors fly by and I pick up a rhythm of descent.  fwap. fwap. fwap. "bonjour!" (passing neighbor). fwap. fwap.

Out the two secure doors, into the street.  I pop on my sunglasses to avoid eye contact with strangers and start making my way first to my little boulangerie; (I always order, "une banette normale, s'il vous plaît!") and then continue on to my U Express.

I swiftly pile my basket with rations, eggs, yogurt, laundry detergent, hand soap, toilet paper.  I hesitate when it comes to Coca or Wine- but I've got my two big plastic bags with the cloth handles... I can handle it.

It's methodical, pick up an item, place in basket, check list.  Usually I organize my list according to the lay out of the store, I don't want to spend too much time in there.

In about 15 minutes the store is ravaged and I am prepared to go home.  The cashier is much faster than me, and he swipes the items with this terrible quickness.  It stresses me out- I have to try to get everything into my two big bags without breaking the eggs or squishing the cookies.

He's done scanning before I've finished bagging and I deftly hand him the U-Express point card to win some time, he nods, scans and then waits.

"Par carte s'il vous plaît"

Beep. Beep. Beep.

"Allons-y" He responds.

Finally the bagging is finished, I test the weight in each arm and place them aside my feet; pop my card into the machine and tap out my code.  Seconds feel like hours, finally apprové! apprové flashes and my receipt prints.

I toss the receipt into my bag, shove my cards back into my pocket, pop my ear buds back into my ears and begin the trek home (of course, not forgetting the merci! bonne journée!)

Walking home is just as stressful, I live next to a little bus area... and these buses go to some nasty areas.  This means some nasty characters; I swipe my sunglasses on my eyes, walking fast and avoiding the spitting/smoking/name calling from these people.  Stomach is in a knot for about 3 minutes, hoping that they don't try to bother me today.

I make it to my street; press in my codes.  I struggle to carry the 10 lbs of groceries up the 5 flights of stairs, pausing every 2nd flight to breathe and continue.

At home I sit down and just respire.  I'm going to have to do this again next Monday.  souffle.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ugly Dinner + Recipe

Is this not the ugliest dinner you have ever seen?  I don't think there is a way to make pink sausages any more attractive.. and the risotto looks like chunk.  Bri likes to post everything we eat, and I was very upset to find this monster posted on Facebook this morning. This is the ugliest dinner I have ever made in my life.. but you know what?  It was damn good risotto!  If only we could taste pictures..

Recipe:  Curried Risotto aux Endives (ingredients in French, for easy shopping, instructions in English)

Servings: 4

185g OR 1 cup du riz (thai)
2 cups fond de boeuf preparé (beef stock prepared)
1/2 cup du vin blanc
2 tablespoons crème fraîche ou crème fermière
2 endives blancs, cut in rounds
1 echalot, diced up
1 tbsp de l'huile d'olive vierge
1 tbsp de curry en poudre
salt/pepper to taste

  1. Wash up the endives and cut into rounds.
  2. Heat up a large pan, style wok or like this one to the right:
  3. Toss in the olive oil, and the echalot into the oil for about 1 minute.
  4. Toss in the endives, stir around on medium-low heat until they are more cooked down (around 5 minutes)
  5. Toss in the cup of rice, stir around briskly, and add in about 2 luches (great french word, means ladlefuls) of the stock/wine mixture
  6. Stir for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat; ensuring not to burn.  Turn heat low, cover for another 2-3 minutes until liquid is absorbed.  Add in the curry powder/salt/pepper.
  7. Add another 2 luches of stock; medium-high heat, stir and stir and stir.. low heat and cover.
  8. Repeat steps 6-7 until the liquid is fully absorbed... add more liquid if still crunchy.
  9. Finally, add the crème fraîche and season to taste; stir around and cover leaving on a nice low heat... I topped with some parmesan cheese.
Ugly but good.  Here's the video I found that makes the process a bit more simple:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akvS38cR4b4

I didn't use 'curcurma' just curry powder, I also added salt/pepper and parmesan.  Voila.  Enjoy your ugly dinner tonight.. with some 'chipolata' saucisses.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What-What: Speed'Apero

"Yes... but uhhh.. it's like Speed Apero, you know?  They deliver.."  L. started into her speech; we have weekly lessons where she practices English and I correct her.  I feel weird charging her the money since she really teaches me a lot- but that's another story. 

"Woah woah, Speed Apero?"  I stared at her, potentially her pretty French head was making fun of me.  She nodded, completely serious, "You have got to be kidding me."

"Yes, wee hauve ay serveece zat deeleevers alcool at party.", she nodded, quickly opening her computer to prove she waz not lie-eeng.  "Uhnd all-zo condooms, eww see?  Drinks!"

I looked through the page and laughed to myself, "You know, L, that is surely going into my blog."  She stared at me this time.. only because she needed an explanation of 'surely' and 'blog'.

Speed Apero.  Ever been to a party in France and you realize it's starting to get sèche and all the booze is suddenly dry?  Well, it's never happened to me.. but if it does now I have a magical emergency number that will speedily deposit an over-priced bottle of alcohol, cups, ice and accompaniments at my door.

This isn't like a skizzy neighborhood drunk you hire to go grab some chips, no my friends, this is a classy business complete with a website:  http://www.speed-apero.com/

Listed from 'Champagnes' to 'Fun Pack' and even the 'Gateaux Apéros'; you cannot go wrong with this awesome selection... imagine you are at a dinner party and suddenly out of wine!  Pick up the phone, dial up the Apero Dudes (I call them that) and they are at your door with a bottle.. only about 50% more than a grocery price.  Plus it's 10% off to pick it up at their shop.. although in that case it sort of destroys the service and paying the price.

Not listed on their website is the fact they will also deliver condoms.. I didn't ask my student how she was aware of this tidbit- but she nodded as if it really came in handy.

 Seriously.  This is so on my list of things to try in Lyon... here's the contact.  Join me in the Apero Fun.

Tel : 04 72 87 00 00

p.s. you can even order online.  n'importe quoi!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Found: 2 Euro Store

Anyone from the States knows about the Dollar Tree.. that place you go when you need like 50 straws for some fund raising event.  You are going to someone's birthday and don't want to buy a super expensive Hallmark card.  You need to clean your house but Mr. Clean is simply out of the budget... well I recently discovered the European.. or more the "French" equivalent to the Dollar Tree... the 2 Euro Shop.

Located on 17 rue Victor Hugo, in Paris, down the stretch of over-priced shopping paradise.. situated between the Brioche Doré and SFR store, lies the little shop called, "C 2 Euros"... or in translated real french, c'est deux euros.  It's a store that is easily missed, we keep walking or talking and one second passes.  It's a blink and walk store, if you blink while you are walking by, well you missed your chance.

Now there are some true differences between this little jewel mine and the Dollar Tree, first off:  not everything is off brand.  That's right, there are some name-brand items in this shop.  They are sold often because they weren't sold in another store or the demand wasn't high enough.

For example, the treasures I managed to buy yesterday for only 6 euros:
-Oil bottle (for pouring my oil in style)
-Little tray for my coffee in the morning
-Pantene Pro-V Conditioner (which I could NOT find in the normal super marché!)

They also have a selection of cookware, serving ware (high quality) and little amuse-bouches serving items.  There are Lyon themed items, so great for those of us who want to bring a gift home.. but are low on cash.  And as a note:  everything is 2 euros... even if the price marked says '4' or '5.95' it's just an old listed price from the old magasin.

As a warning, it is a very small little shop.. it takes some shoving and shuffling to get around and buy things- but it is definitely worth it for poor students like myself to look like we are living fancy!

Happy cheap shopping!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Advice: The French Kitchen

When moving to France an American should be aware as to what exactly the French kitchen is.  I don't mean the cuisine nor the utensils- but there are so many differences between American and France... many aren't prepared and few talk about it.

When I first moved to France, Bri and I shared a 32 m2 apartment outside the city in the 7ème arrondissement.  For those on the imperial system- that's roughly 344 sq ft between two people.  The apartment was miniscule, but the kitchen was the worst part.  Not only was there no fridge, but there was no oven, there was no stove.  It was simply a counter with a sink attached.  We chose to save about 100 euro a month by going for the unequipped kitchen... but that meant we'd have to spent money to equip it.

Buying the Appliances
There are several places to go about buying a fridge or a hot plate- Planet Saturn is probably the cheapest.. we scored a mini fridge and a hot plate within the first month... and I never got used to it.  Mini fridges in the United States are for the downstairs living room- you know- the place you store your beers and cokes for visitors.  A hot plate is saved for people living in student housing, and here I was, cooking with my one induction burner and storing my food in a fridge that went to my knees.

Most people don't even own an oven; they are large, expensive and difficult to keep clean.  The common back up is the microwave/oven unit, which uses convection heat to bake things and can double as a normal microwave for others.  I am not a fan.  These things don't bake like an oven, my chickens are never crispy, my cookies take too long, quiches take 45 minutes.  The worse is how cheese, no matter what brand, never melts the way it should.  My lasagnas suddenly become mounds of pasta hidden under a plastic sheet of white cheese; no gooeyness.

Getting Lucky
In order to truly get lucky in the kitchen department you have to hunt.  Take my situation, when we finally moved back in September, we found out the girl moving from the apartment we wanted was going to London.  So I sneakily added, "Soo... what are you going to do with your kitchen?"  Over the next three weeks we negotiated until finally I bought her fridge, gas range and some other trinkets for the low price of 250e.  Now I have a fridge that is taller than me and FOUR burners.. so I can multi task.  The oven issue still remains.. but the rest is fabulous.

Just Remember
Moving to France is like moving to a whole new culture.. and in this case your big American ice-making fridge will shrink into a miniscule fridge... and that nice big oven that could crisp your turkeys.. well now it's a rotating convection oven that couldn't bake a whole turkey unless it was hacked into pieces.
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