A quick update
The last four months have been hectic stressful to put it mildly. I must say the 2nd year is proving to be harder than the first, luckily I feel we are emerging from the worse of it. Or as Austin and I joke… “Presque y la ‘. Almost there… (That is the joke. Also that is improper French…)
Now as the smoke clears so does my vision and I realize I am stronger and more resistant than ever (like a flu strain ;p). The first year it was a funny dream not a reality. Second year you realize the work you really have to establish yourself. And you get to it! Though sometimes round about…
We are more in love with this city than ever and determined to make it work. Our french has drastically improved. And so has life. 🙂
The importance of just sitting
So part of what I have learned in my time in Europe…
Learning to just sit… and relax… quality time. Sure during the day all is crazy and chaos. But especially at night I have spent more hours than ever in my life around a table… drinking, laughing, talking, eating and eating some more. No TV, no computer, just each other.
Especially in Paris, the café culture of sitting on a terrasse (café patio) and philosophizing with an apèro (pre drink) is amazing, though not always great on the wallet. ;p Luckily “happy-hour” borrowing from the english term is also popular.
Or in the case of summer time: “pique-nique” and laughter on a bridge, along the seine, in the park.
This is where relationships are formed, movements made (impressionism for example) and smoking habits are procured! Plus, odds are it’s a bit too tiny in your apartment for guests… In a way this is the Parisian form of the American sitting on your porch with a beer, chewing the fat and watching the grass grow (if we had a porch or grass).
The Average French Diner
I have gotten used to scheduling at least an hour and a half for dinner, but have surpassed this up to three plus drinks. This is something that I got so used to that upon returning to the US, I was stressing over having a 1 hour dinner with friends before an event as I thought it just wouldn’t be long enough.
- Apèros – a Kir (sweet wine), a martini rouge, a small beer or perhaps a Ricard (licorice old man drink). Sometimes drinks come with some olives or peanuts so you don’t pass out.
- Ordering – Order all in one go (barring digestif and dessert). Most places offer a formule or formula where you get a better price on the culinary gauntlet you are about to run. At this point you order a carafe or bottle of wine.
- Entrées – A small dish such as a hard boiled egg and mayo, some paté with bread or escargots
- Plats – Main dish usually soaked in butter plus some raw protein
- Cheese platter? – It could happen. Cheese is for afterwards to nibble on. Just be sure to cut the cheese correctly and respect the rind to cheese ratio!
- Digestif – a shot of liquor or coffee.. or both
- Dessert – Usually combined with the last step
Dinners in Italy can be even longer…
I am not the best but getting better
I can’t say that I am the best at relaxing… A constant planner with wheels always turning am I!
But with the help of long dinners and new found friends I am learning to sit back and laugh at the day.
And this is the essence of Expat-hood.
No one country or person has it all figured out. But often it takes a move and a new perspective to really learn more about yourself, where you come from and where you are setting out next to explore (because seriously who actually knows where they are going?)
Strong Better Slower Frencher – S