bacon and shout-outs

yesterday i found bacon.

why i never noticed it before, and why everyone agreed with me when i expressed my concern over the lack of bacon in this country, i do not know. the fact remains, however, that whilst walking down the aisles of monoprix (pronounced “mono-pricks” by those of us who grow ever-discontented with the crowded, unfriendly marché), i discovered first uncooked bacon bits, and then real, true, bacon slices. the scene was probably pretty comical to all the innocent bystanders, as this new realization sunk in for claire, caitlin and me. granted it’s no maple-leaf maple smoked bacon, and there were only the options of “fumé” or “moins salé” (less salt), but suffice it to say that it’s going to be a bacon-filled weekend (bacon every day…brier you’re jealous). yesterday, i put bacon bits in my (alreadyextremelyfattening) alfredo sauce (it was delicious, by the way – thanks mom), tonight we may use the rest in a salad. and tomorrow? bacon, real canadian maple syrup (thanks alex), and french toast. which – for your information (erik), is not just called “toast” in france, but rather “pain perdu,” (the lost bread), because historically they would use the ‘lost’ and day-old bread from the bakery to make this delicious and eggy breakfast item, to mask the fact that it was stale. clever, non?

tomorrow is also potensh (sho-fo for potentially? leah?) the day we (being claire, caitlin and i) hike mount st. victoire, the famous cézanne landmark that overlooks provence and provides a very picturesque landscape for me every morning on my walk into town.

anyways, just had to share the news with you. the question is – does your opinion of me go up, or down, at how excited i was to find bacon….? ….


le dîner…

i forgot to mention. on friday night, claire, caitlin, benji, his girlfriend emma (visiting from london for the weekend), and i went to a very nice restaurant called “la tomate verte” for dinner. it was… fabulous. that kind of eating will unfortunately not be a very frequent happening (in case you aren’t tired of hearing this, i am a poor student living in the 2nd most expensive city in france), but it was so nice to eat real, quality, french cooking. i had foie, then duck, and then shared an absolutely delicious chocolate dessert with caitlin, and we all shared a bottle (or two) of some delicious loire valley wine. the evening felt well deserved, and was definitely a treat. observe my dinner:

i should mention, there’s a giant cooked fig underneath all that duck meat…

truth and praise

it’s sunday. you know what that means. it means that i have been renewed, restored, and have remembered, if only in part, why i am so blessed to be here. it means that i walked to the marché with caitlin in the fall sunshine, watched the market-goers meander. i saw my favourite honey guy, who recognizes me each week, and i told him how his honey was enjoyed by all who tried it back in canada (more on that later). it means that i purchased some chèvre-stuffed peppers, and some more caviar de tomate (i keep meaning to try something new, but it’s just so good…). it means that i had un noisette on a café patio and people-watched the ever-entertaining french.

cait and i had a late breakfast at a new restaurant/café in the market square. it’s called “le pain quotidien” which means “the daily bread.” it’s a really cool, entirely organic place that serves simple gourmet breakfast, brunch and lunch. reminds me a bit of pan cafe in st. catharines, except french, and with a more expansive menu (incidentally, probably not more expEnsive, which is a welcome surprise). while we were enjoying our oeuf and organic sourdough bread in the sunshine, one of the servers from our other local haunt, “l’unic” (not to be confused with “l’eunuch”!) passed our table and said hello. cait and i both agreed that it felt so great to actually have a ‘place’ that we go to regularly and where the servers know us now. heck he even knows i order a noisette every time (just for your reference, un noisette is a macchiato – espresso with a dollop of steamed milk and foam).

while walking back i had a little ‘stop and smell the roses’ moment. aix may be small, and très très chère, but it IS beautiful. i have yet to be able to capture this in photo-format (brandon? where are you when i need you??). every time i pass a cross-street, i have to stop and look down it – and mind the fountain on the way. the old buildings and the cobblestone, the wrought-iron bars at the base of each window, the ivy falling down the sides of old walls, and the tall trees at the end of the street, often framing the steeple of some 16th or 17th century cathedral… it really is another world here. in all of this, however, i still feel like a foreigner. i described it to caitlin as a museum goer gazing at a painting. sure it’s beautiful, but i will never be inside the painting, never inside the mind of the artist. i will never go inside those buildings, or know who lives there. i won’t visit the lawyer or chiropractor who works behind this or that old, carved wooden door. i probably won’t ever water the petit olive tree on the window sill. i am forever a foreigner here, always looking, admiring, but never quite fitting in. it’s surreal, really.

it did feel different, though, familiar even, coming back here after an intense and whirlwind tour back to niagara for a one jacqueline dueck’s wedding. she had asked me to be a bridesmaid in her october 10th wedding to her now husband peter hoff back when they were first engaged. after much humming and hawing and even a preliminary dress-shopping trip, i heart-achingly told her i would not be able to come back from france to be there. and at the time, that was true. however, mid-way through september i made a split decision to fly in, in an attempt to surprise her. it almost worked, had she not seen the revised program with my name added the day before the rehearsal. so when alex and i showed up at the church for the rehearsal friday night, she acted surprised but not enough to fool me. it was incredible none the less, and it absolutely was the right decision to come back. i wouldn’t have wanted to miss her day for anything (we HAVE known each other since we were 2, afterall). the wedding was a blast, and so beautiful. she looked incredible, and watching pete hardly keep it together as she walked down the aisle made me extremely glad i had a tissue tucked in my dress (i won’t tell you where). for photos of the day and my trip, see my flickr site!

other than the limo driver picking us bridesmaids up to take us to the church a half-hour late, the day went off without a hitch (save for that of pete and jacq. har har), and also flew by ridiculously fast. i had arrived wednesday night, and i left monday evening, arriving back in aix tuesday evening. in the short amount of time that i was home, i hardly stopped, hardly slept, and hardly had any time to see everyone i wanted to see. i did manage to (truly) surprise a few friends (leah, erik, heather, tim, carianne?). and i managed to have an amazing dinner at stone road, a fabulous breakfast at the bleu turtle, two incredible breakfasts and a dinner from my wonderful mother, and myriad other unforgettable moments in between. i even worked (volunteered?) a day back at ravine since my chauffeur couldn’t get the day off…

now i’m back, with no further intentions to hop across the ocean until the end of my time here. my ‘homecoming’ was bittersweet, as home felt so right, so comfortable, yet coming back also felt right, and my friends here really are amazing (they think i’m amazing too, but probably only because i came bearing a 1.14litre smirnoff bottle full of real canadian maple syrup, and 3 bottles of wine! although all that really means is that alex is amazing as all those things came from him…).

so, back into it i go. only this time around it’s fall and i need a jacket and a scarf.

sarcasm and complaints

– people, please. wait, sorry, s’il vous plait. i know that “les bisous” – the kiss kiss on each cheek – is the french greeting. but when the ridiculously tiny university hallway is thoroughly crowded and there’s but a one-person-wide stream of people moving through to get to their classes, do not stop to say “salut” to your friend, lest you incur the wrath of robyn pre-café (and already agitated at how long it is taking to get to class. and how claustrophobic it is. and likely already late).

– on a related point, yesterday when walking from the bus stop to my room i passed by three french friends, said, “salut! ça va?” and did the kiss kiss with all of them. i felt très french.

– i have been given short legs as part of my lot in life, and as such, my entire life, i have had to compensate for this by walking fast to keep up with people with normal-to-long legs. because of this, slow walkers have an incredible and inherent talent of getting on my nerves without even knowing it.

– on another related point, brandon once said to me whilst walking in downtown vancouver with me, “if i was your boyfriend i’d dump you.” after i got over the shock of what he’d just said, he explained that i never wanted to walk beside him and was always a number of steps ahead. pfff. bad logic bran.

– a direct quote from one of my french profs: “ce qui est vrai d’ailleurs, n’est pas vrai en france!” translation: “what is true elsewhere is not true in france.” how right you are, monsieur, how right you are….

– as my french seems to stagnate (although i’m told that i’m wrong and it IS, in fact, getting better…), my english seems to deteriorate. also, my notes are filled with half-sentences in french (since i start writing a point and in the midst of also trying to pay attention to what is being said next, i forget what i was writing), and random sentences in english, when i get too frustrated to try and write in french. ALSO, i don’t have the neatest chicken scratch, and sometimes i can’t even read what i was trying to say (‘is that supposed to be french or english?? and regardless, what on earth kind of word is that??’) ugh!! to illustrate, here is an excerpt of a page from my notes:




la volunté des états

pour lui… (?)

la volunté collective qui sert la support disparaître (?)

droit international fragmentaire

relativisme des règles

if the common will disappears, the obligation to follow the law also disappears

man is a social being

societies need norms, rules, ; violation of norms leads to disorder which necessitates a reaction, thus rules are necessary to maintain order

inefficacité des sanctions

sigh. good thing i have a recorder? guess i’d need to actually listen to the recordings for it to be helpful…wedding/surprise trip home update coming soon. photos have all been added to flickr!

disclaimer: i can’t figure out this darned formatting. sorry for the disarray.

first row…

this is the first row of my ever-expanding collection. for the record, i have another half-row already filled. lush much? no, don’t worry, i share.

problem: i only have the depth to have three rows… what to do?! such a dilemma!