In the midst of deciphering emplois du temps, learning how to get home at night, speaking with confidence, buying new shampoo because campus makes my hair smell like day-after party smoke, or scrambling to force natural and appropriate reactions to social everythings, you will recall that I have declared that I will not thrive, but flourish. I said that I’d embrace the silence that erupted within me as soon as I displaced myself. I said that I’d hear it, feel it, then delve into refilling myself with the dozens of tones – simple and complex, tous les deux – that used to make up my individual sound. Through everything here, all the confusion or solitude or resilience or conversation, the things I am noticing lately are the things that make me feel the best (french aerobics, that is one) (another one is crossing the bridge over le Rhône- it is staggering and so far nothing else has been able to shock me into realizing where I now live).

Right now my best things are the things that exist quietly but carry enormous, intricate shadows:

 For example, I have a magnificent skylight.

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And so far the only individual who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through it has been that weird black pigeon who looks at me in the morning (my neighbour insists that he was not so lucky).

Second, my oven works I guess.

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But more importantly, I can make a mean stack of biscuits without it toppling over.

!

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Back to it

Today is another Saturday! In fact, it’s the fourth Saturday- I’ve been in France now for one month. I feel like I’ve been given a small gift, a few months in a new place with the opportunity to watch myself twirl up into a little plant and see where I end up placing my leaves, which direction I find some sunlight in. So far I’ve been quiet; I’m just trying to let things exist around me and watch myself curl into them. After spending a few days at school, I’ve now come out of a little happy bubble where I was living thinking that these next few months could be all about long days at markets and tireless attempts at nailing down the perfect pastry crust. Now I see it- school is indeed starting again and the challenge will be to fill my days with things I love before I can’t see past the silly excuses that come with classes, homework, and commuting all over the place.

In the mean time, cheese.

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what i’ve got from marché saint-antoine célestin

I went to another market, intent on buying some new cheese (I forget the name of the bigger one, unfortunately, because it’s excellent, but the small one is a round of dry chèvre) and some figs to make a confiture with later in the week. I came back with what I desired but also happened upon an enormous beet, some raisin nutty bread and a big beautiful bag of roquette. I thought the highlight of my week would be this:

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And for a while, it was! It was so much! For a whole day, it was cheese and bread and more cheese, and more bread, and I’m so française! and more cheese, more cheese- and then all of a sudden I can’t eat cheese for another week or so and now, it’s this:

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Vegetables, I forgot about you.

I’ve been really excited about being a refuse-a-label-etarian, enjoying pâté and fois gras and artichokes and ham and spinach and eggs and smoked salmon and quiche and cheeses and suddenly I remember- I like vegetables best. I like chickpeas second best. I can feel my pinky toes again! This morning I boiled pure apple juice for an hour until it was at a third of its original volume, concentrated and sweet, to make an apple syrup. I poured it into a jar to keep chilled and later, I added it to whole-grain dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and some tahini and sprinkled it over this beautiful salad: my beets, roquette, chick peas and something new – roasted chestnuts. Did you know that those are real? They’re easy to roast, except when they come already with rocks nudged inside of them, and they’re sweet, meaty and light.

Best of all, they taste just like the first time I tried them a few weeks ago. I suppose there’s nothing like walking around together in a happy, gluhwein-induced daze through a Christmas market in Paris and having someone teach you about warm chestnuts glowing in their white paper cones – and so I went on a mission to buy some tonight and I feel like it’s December all over again.

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La boqueria

Because it was beautiful, here are some pictures of la Boqueria, one of the biggest (and oldest) markets in Barcelona. I was warned that it was touristy, but who cares? Now I know where to buy cuttlefish next time I’m in town.

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Prizes if you can identify the item at far left.

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