June 29, 2008
Maybe “the world” is a bit of an exaggeration, but between the two of us tomorrow, Allen and I will set foot in France, Germany, Ireland, and the United States. Not bad for a day’s work. So yes, we’re flying separately because we bought our tickets different times. I’m taking Lufthansa through Frankfurt, and I remember a little too well how that turned out the last time. Meanwhile, Allen is flying through Dublin on Aer Lingus, which he hadn’t heard of before this trip and which he therefore says as if he were mouthing the name of a tricky disease. Both of us arrive at Dulles in the early afternoon, and Allen’s parents will be picking us up and bringing us to our house in DC.
Our (mostly) packed bags are gigantic. It’s ridiculous. Though they’re the same bags we came over with, we’re looking at them and wondering why they are so big. And – the horror! – why are they so full? I dread the overweight fines that may be in our future.
We’re doing very little today aside from packing, emptying the fridge, and cleaning the apartment from top to bottom. Our landlord invited us to dinner, and while we appreciate it, we probably shouldn’t have accepted. We probably won’t get out much today.
On the other hand, we spent the entire day out yesterday. We rose early to “finish packing.” It seems like we finish packing every day, and then we have to do it again the next. Once we were both showered (with the other packing during non-shower time), we took a pile of clothing and shoe donations to Secours Catholique in the 7th, which allowed us to go to the Grande Epicerie of Bon Marche one last time. We walked back towards Saint Germain, stopping at a couple of tablecloth stores, one jacquard and one provencal.
We met Mimi and Jack and the kids at the park at Rue des Ecoles and Rue de Monge, and all of us ate delicious sandwiches from Kaiser, spread out on the grass. We were joined by Samantha, formerly of Sam de Bretagne fame, and Kerry and family. Spending a couple of hours at a playground is a great way to say goodbye. I didn’t cry (I was a little surprised), but I think it may be because we’ll see Mimi and Jack and Michael and Katharine in August.
It seems so much harder to say goodbye to kids, particularly the tiny ones, because they won’t remember you the way you will them, and you may not ever gain back the level of closeness you had with them if you don’t live nearby again. I will miss the way that Katharine says “shoul” when she wants to get on your shoulders and the way Michael shows you all his artwork from his four years of life every time you walk in the door. I suppose I could say I’ve been fortunate enough to know many kids well enough to miss them like that.
Enough quasi-depressing reminicenses. On with the day! After the picnic, goodbyes and repeated hugs, we went back to the tablecloth store to buy a jacquard tablecloth and napkins. And then we were poor. Ha! Coming back, we ran into the Gay Pride Parade. They were not messing around when it came to noise level and number of people. I don’t think Katharine and Michael had a nap after all. We skirted the parade route but benefited from the music and energy all the same.
The next outing was to Shakespeare & Company books, where we sold a bunch of hardcovers (for about 50 centimes each). We walked out with 7 euros, which we immediately spent at FNAC for new headphones for my ipod. Allen and I had decided we either needed books for the ride over or an audiobook (and therefore, headphones for me, as mine have been out of commission for months). We came back home and purchased the audiobook of The Omnivore’s Dilemma for our ipods. I can’t wait to listen to it on the plane!
Phew! But the day wasn’t over for us yet. We had reservations at l’A.O.C. for one last nice dinner in Paris. We sat outside, the weather finally cool. I sipped my last Cerdon aperitif there and learned that it was in fact a sparkling rose wine (rather than a mixed drink, as I thought). Perhaps I’ll be able to track it down. I decided from the outset to skip dessert in favor of a delicious salmon and ginger tartare. (Not a bad decision. The salmon tartare was outstanding. Plus, how fun is it to say tartare au saumon et gingembre?) Both Allen and I chose one of the night’s specials for our plat: lambshanks with potato “palettes.” Also an excellent choice, but then, we were at A.O.C. Allen chose a moelleux au chocolat for dessert, his favorite. When I said I wasn’t having dessert to the waiter he said, “Perhaps you’d like a little spoon?” I smiled back and him and said it might be useful. And was it! Allen’s dessert was delicious. We returned home afterwards happily full of delicious French food.
What more is there to say? A lot of people have been asking me how I feel about leaving Paris and coming back to the States. I feel just the same as I did when we came here last year. I’m happy to go but sad to leave.
June 16, 2008
With 15 days and counting down quickly, we’re indulging a little with the extra euros from my now full-time babysitting schedule. A crepe here, a carton of Berthillon sorbet there (citron vert these days), a choice from the wide assortment of meringues available everywhere. One of our favorite things to do is have what we like to call a “bakery dinner.” We visit our favorite bakery and pick up one salty thing and one dessert. I’m partial to the feuilletes for dinner – some yummy filling like goat cheese and spinach or chicken curry between thin pastry leaves – and Allen almost always chooses quiche. Then for dessert, it’s a red fruit tart for Allen and a banane (vanilla layer cake under a thick icing in the color and shape of a banana) or a strawberry tart for me.
I think I know what’s on the menu for tonight!
May 9, 2008
As usual, I’m behind with some goings-on. I’d like to share some pictures from the last days of Sarah’s visit, April 22 and 23. Fortunately I had hardly any work to do, so I got to bum around with her the entire time.
We began with the Jardin des Plantes, or Paris’ botanical gardens, which I hadn’t visited since 2001 when our tour bus dropped us off for a 15 minute look. My favorite part was the Jardin Alpin, a sunken garden with narrow paths and plantings everywhere. It was an intimate change from the well-planned and perfectly-laid gardens elsewhere in Paris. Entering the garden by passing through a tunnel added to the feeling that you’d discovered this gorgeous place.
It even had a little pond with goldfish.
Exiting the back of the Jardin des Plantes we skirted the Mosquee de Paris.
Then we wandered Rue Mouffetard, which feels medieval for its narrowness (and pedestrian-only designation in places).
We walked together to my tutoring (passing Allee du Seminaire, shown below).
Afterwards I ran into Sarah on the metro at Duroc! What a strange coincidence. We rounded out the night by having a drink with Antoine and Typhaine and strolling past Hotel de Ville and Notre Dame after dark.
The next day Sarah and I walked all over Haussmann’s creation. We tried to lunch at a Cameroonian restaurant (Sarah spent two years in the Peace Corps in Cameroon), but it was closed. We walked back from the far 11th to the Promenade Plantee, which was flowering beautifully (but the sky wasn’t playing along for photos). Then we searched for lunch elsewhere – at Rue de Rosiers, where everything was closed for Passover, at Marriage Freres where we got skittish about the price of a cup of tea, and finally at an Asian traiteur where we munched on roulades de printemps. In between we took a quick look at the ensignes (old signs that would hang over shops) and the Art Nouveau jewelry shop at Musee Carnavalet.
Next, we hopped on the metro and headed to the Champs-Elysees, home of another Laduree – and oh, the Arc de Triomphe and stuff. Whatever, back to the macarons. We admired the gorgeous lily-of-the-valley boxes for May.
And we gorged on macarons.
We also purchased what we liked to call “chocolate spaghetti” but which is actually a Mont Blanc. We held onto it for later. Then we walked to the Eiffel Tower, and the weather was suddenly clear and beautiful for perfect Parisian pictures.
After our little photo shoot (I think I said to Sarah, “After you’ve satisfied yourself with the Eiffel Tower” and then we were both like, “Ummmm…” Okay, who am I kidding – we laughed like American tourists.), we took the RER home and picked up Allen for dinner. We were concerned, however, that we hadn’t had enough desserts in one day. Oh no, that wasn’t it. We were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to get Berthillon after dinner, and it was Sarah’s last day. So we stopped for ice cream first. Sadly, Berthillon itself was closed (school holidays), so our choices were slightly more limited. I got pineapple and caramel.
Then we climbed the hill towards the Pantheon, and more importantly L’Ecurie. We ate our ridiculously cheap (17 euros for entree, plat, dessert, plus a free glass of sangria with the menu and free glass of cognac with the bill) three course dinner in the dank (and intimate!) cellars of L’Ecurie, including another dessert of course. (Sadly, the chocolate mousse was not as good as the creme caramel, which they hadn’t made enough of that day.) The cognac burned us up inside, but we were pretty glad for that trou. (A digestif is sometimes called a trou, which means hole, because it burns right through what’s already in your stomach, and you can eat more! Or not feel fit to burst.) Why were we so glad? We still had the chocolate spaghetti from Laduree at home!
Sadly, the chocolate spaghetti was a horrible disappointment. As Allen and Sarah will attest, I was really hoping it would be chewy. Instead it was…I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’m terrible at identifying tastes. But it was a little soggy and mushy. The only redeeming portion was the meringue underneath. We threw away a good part of the most expensive pastry I’ve ever paid for half of. Boo. And boo too that we said goodbye to Sarah in the morning. We’ll always have Paris…
April 24, 2008
Five years and some months ago, I applied for a job with an educational research firm in the District of Columbia, hoping to put my linguistics minor to use. One of the questions from my interview was: Where do you see yourself in five years?
This might be a question I need to revisit, just for fun. Or for direction. But right now I’d just like to say that I never thought that the answer to that question would be: In Paris, with three of my coworkers from that job. Regina, Cate, and Sarah arrived on Monday, and that very night we went out to the Italian place (where else?). I remember a lot of chatter, topped off with tiramisu and panna cotta.
Tuesday (April 15) started well too, with some City Walking around the Marais. I left Regina and Cate to it while I went to tutoring (and Sarah was meeting with a French girl who took her to the Grande Epicerie at the Bon Marche). Then we all met at the funicular at Sacre Coeur at 8 pm. Allen and I walked up to their small group, passing tourist after tourist trapped by Africans with friendship bracelets. Yet our friends remained unmolested. Sarah explained: one of the Africans had come up to her, and she told him, “I already did it.” That is the most awesome thing I’d ever heard. (It reminds me of Monty Python’s search for the Holy Grail: “We’ve already got one!”) The guy challenged her, asking what it was. She responded nonchalantly, “You make a bracelet.” Snap!
We wandered down towards the Moulin Rouge, glad we were passing the seedier side of town while it was still light. (Hallelujah for it still being light at eight pm!) Then we went to dinner at Chez Toinette, where I had a lovely rack of lamb and our equally lovely guests treated us to our meal. (Sarah, Regina, Cate, you are as lovely as a rack of lamb.)
And that is just about when my week came to a screeching halt. I felt a little tickle in my throat and figured it was the wine. Then I tossed and turned all night with a fever. The next morning I rose early and went to babysit Noah. I told the parents how sorry I was that I had a fever and that I could leave if they wanted, but that I’d only developed it overnight and couldn’t let them know in advance. That was okay; Noah had a fever too. (Note: I do not believe it is a coincidence that Noah and I both got a fever the same night. I’d babysat him the Thursday and Friday previous.) Noah and I spent the morning on the couch starting blandly at Blue’s Clues. He was burning, and I was freezing. Then we both took a nap. My throat was killing me, but I had no white spots to betray strep. Finally, I went home, cancelled my babysitting/tutoring with Rafaela for later that day, and passed out with my fever.
That night, Regina and Cate came over and watched some TV with us. I stayed on the bed in a heap. (Sarah had gone to Luxembourg and Germany for the weekend.) The fever persisted, and I had another sleepless night. In the morning, the white spots had developed. The strep had announced itself.
April 17, 2008
This weekend, April 4-6, we visited Chateau Courtomer again with Mimi and Jack. They rented a bigger car so we didn’t have to mess with the train, and we all piled in on Friday after work. About 15 people came up from Paris for the weekend, mostly the same ones that were there for New Year’s, and we (or at least I) figured it was a chance to redeem the social awkwardness of that weekend. And I did speak more French this weekend (I think), though I was once again fairly useless in the kitchen.
But speaking of the kitchen, what meals we had! This group thinks nothing of spending several hours in the kitchen to concoct fabulous lunches and dinners. On Friday night we had two lasagnas, one meat and one vegetarian, along with salad and cheese. Saturday lunch was a hearty boeuf bourgignon ladled over potatoes. There was cheese again, and so much wine, and banana bread to finish, which the French liked though they weren’t sure if it was snack or dessert.
Saturday dinner, knowing it had some excellent contenders for best meal of the weekend, went all out with piles of couscous, a vegetable stew to heap on top, and merguez and chicken. There was a cold quinoa salad with sliced radishes that I really enjoyed. For dessert, there was a perfectly white panna cotta with a rich red coulis of assorted berries.
Finally, for lunch on Sunday there was pasta with salmon (described as “un simple pate au saumon” but which was really quite good and nicer than we’d have made for ourselves for a Sunday lunch). There were also two quiches, more quinoa salad, and plenty of crusty bread. And always several bottles of wine.
Other than eat – which I must admit takes up the majority of the time, and which is also probably the most pleasant time as everyone sits around the table together talking for hours – we did very little. Allen took a long nap on Saturday afternoon, and though I intended to do some work, instead I spent most of that time playing with Michael and Katharine. Saturday after dinner Allen and I did some of the dishes and then came back into the dining room to watch a game of tarot cards, which we found to be similar to Spades (though a little more complicated). Sunday we rose late (not unlike Saturday) and were surprised (very) that the forecast of snow turned out true! It continued to snow through lunch and at least an hour of our ride home. Watching the French countryside through the thick flurries of snow was a beautiful sight.
Altogether, we had a very satisfying weekend; we practiced our French a bit, ate like kings (felicitations et merci aux chef cuisiniers!), really rested and relaxed, and experienced an idyllic snowfall.
April 11, 2008
All week I have been neglecting my brother. Well, not really neglecting him, since he does have an entourage. But kind of neglecting him. Alan, Megan, and Dave bought four-day museum passes. Having just run riot through Paris museums, and because there were three of them on this adventure, I didn’t make an effort to jump in as tour guide. (I did give them a Paris scavenger hunt to keep them sharp though!) Through some bad timing (mostly my own) on Tuesday, March 18, I only had a quick rendez-vous with them in the gardens of the Musee Rodin (unfortunately missing their journey through the sewers of Paris, as I ate lunch with Mimi instead). Then Wednesday, I couldn’t accompany them to Versailles because of work in the morning and afternoon. And Thursday, I tried to go to Saint Chapelle with them, but it and the Conciergerie were both closed because of either a strike or Easter preparations or a strike about Easter preparations. So I had breakfast with them and then stood in line at Notre Dame with them for about an hour in the freezing wind. (Did I mention that my brother forgot his jacket? He wore his suit jacket all week.)
So now it’s Friday, March 21, and I’m continuing to neglect him. But today it’s okay because he presented Megan with the big surprise: a proper follow-the-clues scavenger hunt throughout Paris. A series of about ten clues brought them around town with designated restaurants for lunch and dinner. (Lunch at Le Polidor turned out fabulously, while dinner at Cafe la Poste was a little stickier. The owners were having a private party but let Alan and Megan eat anyway – in a standing room only reception situation, where they were the only two sitting and being served dinner.) But they followed all the clues with minimal cheating, exploring the Latin Quarter and Montmartre.
Meanwhile, Allen and I sat around tapping our feet for a bit before we had the brilliant idea of going out to dinner ourselves. And since it was Good Friday, we needed the meatiest place possible for two lost carnivorous souls – L’Ecurie. L’Ecurie has a 17 euro dinner menu – in case you misunderstand me, that’s a 17 euro three course dinner menu. Unheard of. But as if that weren’t enough, the server also brings free sangria with the menus and free cognac with the bill. We each had a tomato salad (whole sliced tomato, typical French salad dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and mustard), a bavette (flank steak) with frites, and creme caramel. We added a demi-pichet of sangria, thinking it would provide us about one more cup each, but it was two to three more cups each, and we were pleased. Everything was simple and satisfying, and Allen managed not to bump his head on the way out.
Then on the way home, we walked past some foreigners (perhaps German), speaking in accented English.
“You don’t say, “Do you have a lighter, OR?” The first one said, angrily, inhaling on his cigarette. His two minions laughed and repeated the phrase in mockery.
The first guy, pushed on by their laughter, suggested an alternative, ”Do you have a lighter or WHAT?” One of his friends said vehemently, ”Or DON’Tchu?”
“Yeah! Do you have a lighter or DON’Tchu?” The guys agreed that this was the best way to ask for a light. I couldn’t stop laughing almost all the way home. I almost wish that I smoked so I could have a reason to voice this moronic phrase.
But I’ll just say it anyway, in completely inappropriate contexts, and laugh and laugh. Do you have a problem with that or DON’Tchu?
April 7, 2008
I woke in the posh Marriott Champs-Elysees on the morning of Thursday, March 13. We determined that starting from the same spot would be useful in getting us to Versailles and back before my tutoring. We took the RER C, which was a logistical disaster, since we didn’t see the one helpful sign that shows which train to take for the possible five termini of this particular “line.” However, we were happy to save a buck by not taking a guided tour as we had in the past, and we located the palace very easily from the RER station.
We found the coupe-file entrance (museum passes let you skip the line) and entered, with a bit of confusion about where the tour began. Eventually we found the booth to rent audioguides and equipped ourselves. We started our tour in the chapel, then wound through the state rooms, admiring the details of the palace.
We lingered in the famed Hall of Mirrors, imagining the opulence of lining a room with mirrors at the time the hall was constructed.
Next we wound through the public bedrooms and the Dauphin’s (crown prince’s) wing, admiring luxurious fabrics, gilt molding, and fabulous objets d’art.
After touring the palace of Versailles, my parents and I emerged into the gardens. We bought tickets for the mini-train that ran down to the Trianons. Though I’d been to Versailles twice before, I’d never visited the Trianons or Marie Antoinette’s little village.
We wandered into Marie Antoinette’s hameau (hamlet) – Dad with slightly more urgency than Mom and I, as he was looking for a bathroom. In some ways, the little buildings reminded me of Popeye’s Village in Malta. Think about it. Both were built purely for entertainment. And like Popeye’s Village, Marie Antoinette’s collection of farm buildings seemed to be a caricature of what it was meant to represent. Hollywood had a rival in Her Frivolous Majesty.
We all enjoyed it. See the smile on Dad’s face? (Why is Bob smiling? You’ll have to ask him.)
No peasant’s hamlet would be complete without an assortment of wildlife, and we saw swans, bunnies, hens, a funny little goat, a sow with her belly low to the ground, more goats (some eating pine trees), and donkeys. What a little menagerie.
Afterwards, we visited the Grand Trianon. Normally there is an extra charge for the visit, but it too was included in our Museum Pass. It was much smaller, more manageable example of a decorative arts museum. To me, that meant, “Take lots of pictures of the curtain tassels.”
Our train ride back to the palace included small French children singing La Marseillaise (the national anthem) when they weren’t misbehaving.
We ate sandwiches on the RER back into the city, and we decided that I had time to run through Musee de l’Orangerie before tutoring. Monet donated two immense waterlily panels to the French state with very specific instructions on how to display them. Did he ever have the right idea! The Musee de l’Orangerie holds the two series in circular rooms, where they stretch along the circumference, illuminated by natural light from above. I could imagine sitting in those rooms throughout the course of a day, discovering new patterns and nuances in the colors.
But we only had 25 minutes before school let out (and I had to be there!), so we walked quickly downstairs. The lower level held the private collection of a couple of art collectors, with groups of paintings by some well-known artists (Utrillo, Degas, Cezanne). Though 25 minutes in a museum isn’t enough for true museum lovers, it is perfect for me. I am the type of person who likes to drift through a museum letting each object pull me along. When my mind or my eyes begin to wander too much, it’s time to go. I like to soak it in, rather than to soak in it.
At the metro, we parted ways. I went to tutoring and showed Mom and Dad which station to take to visit the Musee Rodin. They wandered the gardens until they were kicked out. At the very last, the groundskeeper stood himself between Dad and the Gates of Hell as Dad tried to take a picture. I’m guessing the groundskeeper didn’t see the humor in that. Then my parents moved on to the Musee d’Orsay, which has extended hours on Thursdays. (Because the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay stay open until 9:45 pm on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, these are the best two days for the consecutive two-day Paris museum pass.)
I met my parents at Musee d’Orsay after tutoring. We scrapped plans to go to the Eiffel Tower that night because it was raining. Instead, we opted for dinner. Do not let it be said that we don’t appreciate our food. (Actually, this particularly implicates me.) The restaurant of choice for the night was AOC, where we spent the last of our money. (I’m kidding. Sort of.) For an appetizer, we shared an order of white asperagus, and Mom and I sipped the house aperitif. For our main courses, Mom and I had scallops (Saint Jacques), Allen had the suckling pig, and Dad had the assiette rotisseur. That restaurant is certainly a treat. And with that, we ended the night before my parents’ last day in Paris.
February 27, 2008
Saturday night we had the most amazing dinner at A.O.C. The initials stand for Appellation d’Origine Controlee, which basically means, “We French people know where this comes from and certify it’s okay.” So if you’re looking for great French food in Paris, look no further than this unpretentious, homey restaurant in the 5th arrondissement.
We had an early reservation for dinner, which turned out to be an invitation to eat with all the English speakers in Paris. Only two tables were French speakers, and more than five others were English speakers. Still, the waitstaff pleased me immensely by speaking only French with us. That alone is enough to make me love a restaurant. Ah, supporting my ego is tough… But they did speak English, for those of you who want to try but don’t speak French. (Strangely, while they did speak English, the waiter told the table of Brits in the corner that he didn’t. I guess I was mistaken and only one of the waiters spoke English? Or someone was getting the snub.) Anyway, we had taken the early reservation in order to assure ourselves a table since we’d only called a few hours before. However, it seems that wasn’t necessary, and we probably would have been able to get a later reservation. Several people without reservations were also seated at our early eating hour.
We started out with the house aperitif, which was pink, sparkling, and just yummy. I was trying to figure out what was in it (I think Campari was one ingredient) by spying on the bar. We chose the wine of the month (le coup de coeur de la patronne, specifically) to drink with dinner, which was a red Domaine Richaud.
The specials and the regular menu looked so appetizing. I went for a plate I’ve been dying to try since I was 11 years old, reading Asterix and Obelix in Turkey: wild boar. (Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making it possible for me to write that sentence.) I didn’t know what to expect when the plate came out, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t look like Obelix’ big cut of meat on the spit. Still, I was salivating at the thought. And not only was I getting wild boar, but it came with mashed potatoes with chives and smoky lard flavor (but not the actual bits of meat – yay!). It was excellent, and I’d order it again in a second.
Elizabeth also ordered off the nightly specials, getting the coquilles Saint Jacques, and her scallops were perfectly prepared if a little hard to get out of the shell. Apparently it had been a popular dish at lunch that day because they ran out within half an hour of our arrival. Hers was accompanied by a puree of potatoes (or perhaps cauliflower) with a taste of cheese.
Allen went for the assiette rotisseur, a selection of meats from the rotisserie. He was crazy for the pork and could have eaten just that. (Frankly, I couldn’t tell what was what in the heap of meat on his plate, but the bite he gave me tasted pretty darn good. Moist and juicy.) His had roasted potatoes under the cuts of meat.
The dinner portions were exactly the right size, so we opted for dessert. However, the dessert portions were pretty large. We could have shared a dessert between the three of us and been quite happy. Allen and I had the creme brulee (with vanilla from Reunion), and Elizabeth chose the impressive ile flottante.
In sum, A.O.C. has amazing, fresh, truly French food. Go, bring all your friends, and definitely try the wild boar. Now I’m off to clean the drool off my keyboard.
November 11, 2007
The day before Elizabeth came, I had the pleasure of a jaunt around town (okay, just to the department store) with Mimi, who is my evening babysitting boss. She graciously let me borrow her aerobed, and we both had things to look for at the department store (I was looking for a more permanent air mattress solution), so she invited me to go along with her. We took her daughter Katharine (who is 11 days younger than my niece Katherine), and I enjoyed human interaction during the daytime – what a treat! But I digress. The point of all of this is that Mimi told me about Picard, a frozen foods store that stocks very high quality foods – just frozen! Apparently they make everything from very fresh food and then flash freeze it right away. She sang its praises enough that on the next to last night of Elizabeth’s visit, we went there to see if we could find anything for dinner.
I could make this blog entry short and just say that Picard is my new dinner mecca. But I’m obviously not going to do that. Why make it short now, when I’ve already spent 200 words to this point! That being said, I don’t ever think I’ll cook a meal in France again.
Our first visit to Picard, we chose a couscous dish with chicken, red pepper, zucchini, and carrots. We had it that night. Delicious! What’s more, it fed the three of us for just 3 euros total. We also got a frozen version of aligot, and while it wasn’t as good as the real thing (nor would I expect it to have been), it was pretty darn yummy. A side dish of lentils with Moroccan seasonings became my lunch for two days later in the week. I also bought some sausages that were a bit too grisly for me (I have meat issues sometimes), but that Allen enjoyed.
The next week, after we’d returned from Scotland, I visited Picard again, determined to pack our tiny freezer with meals for the week. I chose another package of the couscous dish; Brighton soup, which has potatoes, cheddar cheese, and carrots (I could eat that all day); five veggie soup with grains; shrimp with garlic and parsley (which we ate on rice); rice a la provencal, which just meant with tomatos and olives; and caramel ice cream. Everything has been great so far, with the exception of the shrimp and ice cream, which were just okay (as if putting them so close together in the same sentence wasn’t unappetizing enough). We haven’t had a lot of luck with ice cream from the store over here. Fortunately, we live a block from the best ice cream in the city, possibly in Europe, so I forgive the French for their store-bought ice cream deficiencies. (What must they think of us?)
I’ll be going back to Picard this week to fill our tiny freezer again, and I can’t wait. With just a double burner to cook all our meals on, and with my work keeping me out of the house between two- or three-thirty and around seven, heating up a high-quality frozen meal is so convenient and logical! America needs to get on the Picard bandwagon. Two weeks ago, I would have scoffed at the thought that frozen food could be this satisfying.