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November 28, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pecan pie number one is in the oven and number two is waiting in the on-deck circle… As with almost everything I’ve tried to accomplish here in Paris, there was quite a bit of compromise used to get these pies ready for tonight’s dinner!

Firstly, pecans are quite expensive since they’re all imported from the U.S. - but it’s hard to substitute pecans in a pecan pie. I lucked up and found some ready-made pie crusts, saving an hour or so of preparation time. It’s next to impossible to find corn syrup in France, so I’ve substituted honey. (Thanks to good ol’ Google I was able to find plenty or recipes using honey.) Next, I couldn’t find brown sugar, except in the form of sugar cubes. A little pent-up aggresion took take of that problem…

(to be continued)

November 27, 2002

Le cuisine

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the apartment, every creature was stirring, especially my mouse!

I’m trying to find a good pecan pie recipe on the internet. The trouble is that French grocery stores don’t necessarily do the best job of stocking the appropriate ingredients. Luckily, the Champion just around the corner sells pecans. I read earlier today about the new-fangled possibilities of Google cooking - typing your assortment of ingredients into the search engine and try to find an appealing recipe in the results.

Thanks once again, Al Gore, for inventing this internet with all its wonderful repercussions!

UPDATE: While perusing Google’s results I’ve discovered that the pecan pie was created by the French in New Orleans after being introduced to nut by Native Americans.

November 24, 2002

Bonne nuit!

If New York is known as the “city that never sleeps,” then Paris should be known as the “big city with a bedtime.” On the way back to the apartment tonight after helping clean up after dinner at St. Michael’s, I could have counted the number of people I saw on my hands. (My toes might have been necessary, too.) That’s right, there are probably more people shopping at the Super Wal-Mart in Dalton, Georgia during the wee hours than there are out and about in the whole of Paris on a Sunday night.

And in somewhat related news, they’re starting to decorate the city for Christmas. I saw my first Christmas tree of the season this afternoon at a shopping center. The florists are selling holiday wreaths. There are Christmas lights strung across some of the streets in the neighborhood, but they haven’t started lighting them yet. Are they waiting for American Thanksgiving? Which reminds me, I need to find a pecan pie recipe - my contribution to the feast we’ll have here at the apartment on Thursday.

November 23, 2002

Ces après-midi paresseux

What’s to do on a lazy Saturday afternoon in Paris? Read a book, catch up on emails, do chores, run a few errands, etc. So, yes, there are less glamorous parts of studying abroad; it’s not non-stop touristic fun!

Yesterday morning we watched the film Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, or simply Amélie elsewhere around the world, during our visual communications class. It was my third time to see it. I’ve come to meet quite a few people who are obsessed with the film; I just like it. But it’s definitely one everyone should watch—especially anyone who’s coming to visit me while I’m here. And that includes you too, mom & dad!!!

And I never saw any Beaujolais flowing through the streets…

November 21, 2002

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!

I don’t think anyone’s ever accused the French of not finding a reason to celebrate. This morning just after the stroke of midnight, millions of bottles of wine from the Beaujolais region of France began their journey around the world - the first wine of this year’s harvest. It’s a tradition that’s carried out the third Thursday of November every year. Supposedly the restaurants and cafés will really be hopping tonight as everyone gets their first taste of this year’s vintage.

Unlike regular red wine on most other days of the year, tonight the wine will be gulped not sipped. And if the skies continue to clear and drizzle ceases, supposedly we’ll awaken to see the red liquid flowing through the city’s streets following a Parisian bacchanalia!

November 20, 2002

Le mystère est résolu.

One story of local interest that caught my attention last week was the discovery of fake plaques all around Paris. Here in the city it’s common for the city to mark the location where a famous person lived or particular event of historical significance happened. Well, someone decided to pull a rather ingenious prank by placing fake signs across the city commemorating things like:

On April 17, 1967, nothing happened here.

This plaque was put up on December 19, 1953.

Karima Bentiffa, civil servant, lived here from 1984 to 1989.

Well, the mystery of the perpetrators was solved yesterday when two artists claimed responsibility for putting the plaques up over the past 16 months.

The quote that really struck me was from Claire de Clermont-Tonnerre, the
city councilwoman who pressed for an investigation. She thought that the fake plaques would detract from the legitimate ones, but she herself confessed they were humorous “but only for about five minutes.”

At least I, personally, am taking time now to read every plaque I see - either to catch a joke or to discover a little of the city’s history. Congrats to the artists!

November 14, 2002

Le week-end d'architecture

This weekend we’re taking a class trip to Switzerland and Germany. By the time we’re back in Paris, we’ll have seen the abbey in Vézelay by Viollet-le-Duc, the pilgrimage chapel of Notre Dame de Haut in Ronchamp by Le Corbusier, the Landesgartenschau and former Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid, the Vitra Conference Center by Tadao Ando, and the Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry all in Weil am Rhein, numerous projects by the two Basel-based firms of Herzog & de Meuron and Diener & Diener, and the Beyeler Foundation Museum in Riehen by Renzo Piano.

November 08, 2002

Je suis ici!

Greetings from Glasgow, Scotland! I arrived here safely last night. The bus trip from Paris to the airport in the suburbs took longer than my flight.

November 06, 2002

C'est incroyable!

Today’s one of those day’s that everything’s rather hard to believe. First, yesterday’s elections… Georgia gets a Republican governor for the first time in well over a hundred years, the most powerful Democrat in Georgia - Speaker of the House Tom Murphy - loses his seat, and U.S. Senator Max Cleland also loses. Being such a bad person, I didn’t bother getting an absentee ballot for myself here in Paris but I still feel very tied to this election - a good friend’s father becoming governor, my mom’s hometown’s hero giving up the gavel, and my cousin’s boss being sent home from Washington. I’m don’t consider myself a particularly political person, but then sometimes it’s just hard to ignore!

And it’s hard to believe that tomorrow night I’ll be back in Glasgow! I knew when I left this past July that I’d be coming back and I’m really looking forward to seeing folks again. In theory I should check the weather forecast so I’ll know what clothes to pack, but in reality I know it’s going to be rather cold and wet. Trust me!