Thursday, February 26, 2009

bonne vacances

Oh my! Merci beaucoup pour vos commentaires positifs! Je ne peux même pas vous dire combien la grande réponse à ces deux derniers messages a signifié pour moi... woah, what?! Sorry about that, ha, I guess I've been practicing my French too much lately ;). Let me try that again: thank you so much for your positive comments! I can't even tell you how much the huge response to my last two posts has meant to me! (That's better.) I really have been having quite the inner dialogue lately and it's so nice to be able to share it so wholeheartedly with such a like-minded crowd. If you've ever doubted it, you, my dears, are very much appreciated.

So, last night I walk in to find this situated on our table. As it turns out my host-brother and his girlfriend were coming over for a last minute meal. It was my first time meeting them! They were lovely, but I was also excited about the food, of course. After looking over the appetizers, I was hopeful for the gourmet dinner that my mom had planned. Hm...

Domino's?! The food snob in me cringed a little bit as I ate two slices of Domino's pizza for dinner last night. That said, I must admit it wasn't as bad as it is in the States (taste-wise, not nutritionally.) We had pie of a goat cheese and smoked salmon,

and a quatre frommage pie, FOUR French cheeses. Not quite as disappointing as I had anticipated, but it's a good thing I've put that whole unhealthy mindset about food behind me! Today, I went on a nice long shopping-induced bike ride to compensate :).

Much to my surprise I still woke up this morning with a growling tummy. I was actually so hungry that I half-way ate through my breakfast before photographing it. You can use your imagination ;). There was once two slices of French bread with cheese, jam, and a crunchy Morrocan nut spread (courtesy of our housekeeper,) two dried apricots, six almonds (very exact, haha), and the sweets. I actually ate the cookie and left the remaining two pieces of the chocolate-covered pound cake for my host-sister. She takes her TOEFL exam today. Wish her luck!

As for me, I've got to make my way to the airport... spring break has begun! To review: I´ll be in Dublin for the next three days, Budapest for the four after that, Florence for another four and then London for the final three. If I can, I'll post; if not, please stay healthy and happy and get excited for a long European extravaganza recap-post in a week in a half :). Take care!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

pooh bear, winnie the pooh bear

So I wonder, can you have your cheese and eat it too? How can I ever be sure? I've read and re-read Mireille's stories and other articles that promote the response that yes, you can, as long as you have un peu de tout, an equilibrium. What can I say, I love the concept and I'd love to delve into that carefree balanced attitude towards food that I once had, and yet I still continue to question myself. I'm imparfaît.

It's true, I have yet to see a French woman that's overweight, and for that matter,  there aren't even that many Chilean women I met that were heavy, but I suppose that I will forever be marked by the all-American "fear," of food no matter where I travel to.
Food can be a lot of things... fun,  good-for-you, refreshing, delicious, comforting, adventurous, yummy, even sometimes not that tasty at all (how disappointing)... but terrifying? I'd like to think not. Whether I like it or not my body needs food for nourishment.
I'd prefer to like it. Because as far as this unhealthy mindset is concerned, I'm not sure what got us here, and I'm certainly not sure how to get back our eating innocence, if you will, but it definitely doesn't make me happy. I don't think being unhappy is ever worth it.

And considering the fact that we're about half-way through National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 22nd to the 28th,

I figured that this was as good as a time as ever to bring these thoughts to the table. I mean that quite literally, of course :). 

How important it is to nourish our whole selves, body, mind and soul; how necessary it is to bring back the joy to eating and, even more simply, living. If I eat well, most of the time, if I am active, most of the time, if I lead an overall healthy lifestyle, then I should have nothing to worry about? While I ponder that I'm going out to enjoy the beautiful sunny weather in Strasbourg. Happy Humpday bloggies!
"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best --," and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

le nourriture

I did it, I'm done, and although I can't owe it all to a few cappuccinos, they definitely helped ;). What a week that was! And I had a nice, relaxing, low-key weekend because of it. I just have to get through this next week of pretty easy going classes and then it's spring break for me. 5 days, yipeee!

Friday night I went for a late night dinner with Liz at some hole-in-the wall Afghani restaurant. We had to practice "date night" since we're going to be each other's sole traveling companions over spring break ;). Anyway, since  I had no idea what to expect with the food... 

I just had to stick to what I knew with the wine :). We split a fabulous bottle of a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.

She ordered the Dal-Naan, oriental lentils served in a spiced sauce,

and served with two naan. 

And I had the (?), a spinach pasta-like pieces filled green onion, seasoned with frommage blanc, alongside kidney beans in a tomato and spiced sauce. The verdict? Incredible! All the flavors were very well-balanced. It's probably comparable to many other middle-eastern cuisines although I have yet to find out... how exciting :).

Saturday morning I woke up to a very special treat, an apple tart for breakfast! These things are incredibly tasty, it's a good thing that I don't know the bakery that my host-mom buys them from ;). I savored my weekend treat every so slowly with instant-cappuccino and kiwi.

I spent that night in a Brasserie downtown. This was yet another micro-brewery so we shared pitchers of the blonde and amber varieties. 
As for the eats we had two amazingly delicious tarte flambées. This Alsatian dish has made blog appearances a few times before but I've never quite explained it to you all, so here it goes... Tarte flambée is one of the most famous gastronomical specialties of the Alsace region. The dish is composed of thin bread dough rolled out in a circle or a rectangle and then traditionally covered by crème fraíche, onions, and bacon.

We went for a little more adventure... the first with fresh goat cheese and tomato (omg, omg, omg) and the second with various vegetables.
It was quite the fun night. I'm so glad to have found such a compatible group of friends in both of my experiences abroad. Going into it, not knowing anyone, is incredibly scary and the results can definitely go either way. Now I feel like I have friends all over the world :).
Sunday morning's breakfast was a light as we were low on groceries, two pieces of bread wit jam, a slice of cheese, and a clementine.
Then I went out with my host-mom to re-stock the kitchen and neither one of us could resist purchasing this decadence for our second mini-meal that morning, une quatre-quarts au chocolat, or a chocolate-covered pound cake. The French name comes from the fact that the cake is made with four equal parts of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. 

It would've been perfect alongside one of my little saving graces, n'est pas? Oh yummy. I absolutely adore cappuccinos.
Okay. As much as I've been enjoying every single bit of my adventures into French and ethnic cuisines, I can't say that I haven't been worrying a bit. I'm all for pleasure whether you're eating a fresh strawberry or a slice of chocolate cake but I also, must admit, that I don't want to carry around the extra weight that would come with overdoing the latter.  I wish I could say that I have a completely healthy relationship with food, a balanced diet and consistent exercise, all things in moderation, always eating when hungry and stopping when full, yada yada yada, but I haven't mastered all that yet. Maybe that makes me too much of a self-critical female, or maybe that just makes me normal?
I bought a few magazines this weekend to practice my French and fulfill my magazine article reading need. The French Marie Claire had a special section on dieting. Intrigued, I tried deciphering it to the best of my ability. It was quite interesting, and although I can't go into detail right now about the exact content, I thought I'd mention a small epiphany I had. The French word for food , le nourriture. You see, with the way I've been thinking about the food that I eat lately I think I've lost touch with why I eat, for nourishment. My body needs food that will nourish it, whole, nutrient-rich food, but my mind and soul also deserve to be nourished. How could I have forgotten!
I haven't been able to get back into running with the same ease and excitement in Chile and that's frustrating. I've been stressing out with classes and the rapid onset of midterm papers. In general I just haven't been feeling like myself at my best. I need a long afternoon walk, a morning yoga session, a time for me when I can be alone with my thoughts, and, I might need these daily. I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this, but I'm already feeling  optimistic, to be continued...
Be kind to yourself.

Friday, February 20, 2009

feed me

Stress is, quite unfortunately, a uniting aspect of the academic part of any college experience... and my host-sister and I have definitely bonded this week because of it! My upcoming spring break (Dublin, Budapest, Florence) paired with a couple of good meals are the only things keeping me afloat right now. In addition to the occasional conversation with the boy; he's the best :).
Breakfast Wednesday morning was nothing short of magnificent :). The bread you see there was baked by the neighbors. A thick and soft country loaf, it only got better with a spread of cheese and apricot jam. As for the chocolate and cookies, I saved that for a little after lunch dessert (don't understand why my host-mom gives me AM sweets). After a long day of classes and a nerve-wrecking exchange of e-mails (concerning next year's housing and sorority bills, the time difference is so not helpful when it comes to important things like this) I surprisingly made it to dinner. We had a big bowl of Soup de Carrottes spiced with cumin to start. Followed by a salad of mixed vegetables and a hard-boiled egg. This was all mixed with a little bit of mayo... one of those things that no matter how bad it is for you, and how gross I know it actually is, I can't seem to get myself to be disgusted by it. It's yummy! We each had a serving of pasta with a creme fraîche sauce, mushrooms, and shrimp (a fabulous combination) as our main dish. Then a slice of Brioche (apparently I have a lot of bread fans :) so enjoy the picture!) and our choice of cheese from a platter. We had the option of goat cheese or cantel that night. The Parmesan was for our pasta.And for dessert, a cup of blackberry applesauce. I wish I could tell you that my night ended soon after with a tisane (herbal tea) and a book but, no. I still had places to go! I'm in a Modern French Drama class and much to my annoyance we had a sortie.
Of course, the 20 minute walk to the theatre and back, along with the wonderful production we saw, État de Marche (State of Walking, to be interpreted as physically, and emotionally,) ended up leaving me feeling a lot better. The spectacle was incredibly original. I really enjoyed it and was glad to have taken the break.
The next morning, however, I had the hardest time getting up! I guess staying up late writing a paper does that to you, huh? Nonetheless, I was out the door by 7:30 to go to my internship... not before a quick and tasty breakfast though :).

I went on a great walk with my friend Liz that afternoon, and whether it had been inspired by the play the night before or my need to vent, it was probably one of the best things I did all week. I have this habit of letting things bottle up inside me for way too long until I seem to just break down. Note to self: Best friends are the perfect medicine!
So was the incredible dinner that I ate later on. Oh my gosh, sooo good! I had a small cup of leftover soup and an shrimp-filled avocado to start. Next, a salad with the remaining mixed veggies over shredded Romaine lettuce. I will not come up short my veggie intake.
And, drumroll please, ENDIVES! Gosh, I really never knew what I'd been missing! They're so popular in French cuisine and last night my host-mom cooked it in a creamy mustard sauce. I had two and could've gone back for more if everything hadn't been so fabulously filling.

With eyes on that pear for dessert I also ended up skipping the usual bread and cheese fare. Worry not, no cheese was wasted... I had it with brekkie this morning :).

Eaten with toasts, a kiwi, a yogurt, and green tea, I was very pleased with the cheesy selection. Oh and yes, there are more cookies and chocolate on my plate too, but, once again, I ate those after lunch. (Hm, a sweet yet odd habit. Anyone have a clue?)
Then I met up with my Modern French Drama class (for the fourth time this week, ha) at the Théâtre National de Strasbourg. We didn't go to see a performance this time but rather to get a behind-the-scenes tour of everything that makes up the establishment. I loved it! I haven't been backstage since my high school days of acting, I guess I kind of miss it.
It went way longer than expected though so by the time I only had one thing on my mind, eating :). I threw together a salad as fast as I could: romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, corn, sliced almonds and a piece of pain complet. It was huge and took such a long time to eat - a great quality in a meal I think ;).

But now I've got to buckle down (yet again!?!) to work on my final paper of the week. This one is based on what I learned over the traveling seminar and research on European and American immigration that I've done on my own. I really do find the topic fascinating but I'm nearly burnt out. As long as I can hold out for a little bit longer though, I'll be fine, and then I can enjoy my much-needed weekend. Hope you all had a great week... Thank God it's Friday! Be back soon :).
**If you missed the Karnival recap... check it out! Danke!

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring...

The old man is snoring.

He went to bed,

and bumped his head,

and couldn't get up in the morning.
Pluie, pluie, va-t-en s'il vous plaît!

I suppose it matters little though, I'm up to my neck in work.

Please excuse my sad attempt to keep contact with the blogosphere.

I really would love to really write and tell you all about karneval.

But I can't :(... hope all is well!