When I was in France, I experimented with a whole slew of root vegetables. Turnips, celeriac, parsnips, black radishes — you name it, I roasted it.
Is it just me or do you ever learn a new word or idea and then end up hearing it more and more often in conversation or in passing on the street? For the longest time, I brushed off these instances as mere coincidences. However, there is legitimate scientific backing behind it all. Known as Baader-Meinhof, this phenomenon explains our cognitive bias to “inflate the importance of recent stimuli or observations.”
Whether it’s the work of destiny or simply our brains’ prejudice towards patterns, I have no idea. However, the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon does explain a whole lot when it comes to my understanding of food waste.
If you were to tell me in high school that, after graduating college, I would pack up and move abroad, I would more than likely have laughed in your face. My image of post-graduate life involved hole-in-the-wall NYC apartments and cubicles, not working abroad.
But I suppose life can surprise you when you’d least expect it because, as I write these very words, I’m sitting in an empty apartment in France surrounded by two gigantic suitcases, a boarding pass, and 8 months of pinch-me-this-can’t-be-real kind of experiences.
As a little girl, France meant 1 thing: Paris. Outside of glowing images of the Eiffel Tower, bustling bistros, and baguette, I’ll admit I knew very little. My horizons were broadened once I began studying French in school and even more so when I spent a semester at the Sorbonne. But only since packing my bags and moving back here after graduation have I truly been able to look beyond the city of lights to the other regions of metropolitan France, each of which boasts a unique character — a “claim to fame,” so to speak.
It dawned on me the other day that I’ve been learning French for about 10 years now. My reaction to this realization? I’ll refrain from any cliché commentary on how fast time seems to pass and focus instead on the overwhelming wave of pride I felt wash over me. It has taken a whole lot of resolve and patience to persist for so long in the pursuit of a language whose grammatical complexities elude me more often than not.
In other words, learning French is hard.
I’ll also admit, however, that I felt a slight sting of shame. 10 years is a long time and, even after two stints living in France and many hours spent in the classroom, I have most certainly not attained a level of mastery over the language. Am I conversational? Maybe. But fluent? Absoluement pas.
They say the Provence region of France is blessed by the gods. I’m inclined to agree.
With sun-soaked hillside villages overlooking sweeping lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards, “charming” is certainly an understatement. In fact, I think “enchanting” is more appropriate.
When it comes to coastal cities in France, La Rochelle is a must-see. Commonly referred to as “La Ville Blanche” due to its characteristic limestone facades, this port city sits in the Poitou Charentes region of southwest France, a short 2-hour drive from Bordeaux.
My kitchen here in France is the farthest thing from fancy. It’s an industrial, stainless steel setup complete with two hot plates, a sink, a refrigerator, and a mini oven that looks deceptively like a toaster oven but lacks the ability to toast.
And that’s about it. No microwave to be found.
Of course, I could have purchased one myself, but I spent the first 18 years of my life sans microwave, so the thought never seriously crossed my mind.
When I think of Paris, I imagine cast-iron balustrades bordering the Métropolitan signs of the subways stations, wrought iron balconies, elegant cream-colored stonework, and wide boulevards lined with independent bookshops, cafés, and boulangeries.
Picture this: someone blows up a pig intestine like a balloon until it takes the shape of a sausage casing. Then he/she stuffs said casing with more chopped up (and very well rinsed) intestines before tying up both ends with string, cooking it, slathering on some mustard sauce, and calling it andouillette.
Now picture this: Jacqueline (me) doesn’t know what andouillette is but thinks — what the hec I’m gonna be adventurous YOLO, am I right? — and decides to order it. And eat it. And subsequently google it because, you know, it didn’t taste exactly like normal sausage. In fact, it was oddly pink and chewy.
SURPRISE! Never thought you would have intestines in your intestines, did you? Well, there’s a first time for everything.