Thursday, April 30, 2009

le crêperie marxer

Oh my, my, my, last night = so many tears, goodbyes just are so not my thing. Today I'm feeling a lot less sad, although I can't say better, perhaps it's more of a surreal numbness? Weird. Nonetheless I can't help but smile when I think back to my last French class...

It was yet another beautiful day in Strasbourg

for my final FRE325 class with Professor Marxer.

I learned so much this semester and have improved my French beyond what I thought possible, thanks, in a very big part, to that man.

He's one of my favorite people and moved up even higher on the list when he taught us how to make French crêpes, Alsatian style (replacing baking soda with beer, ha).

Our first batch were salée with the European staples of ham & cheese,

all but the two very special cheese crêpes pour moi.


Then it was time for dessert, les crêpes sucrées. I enjoyed mine with a bit of Nutella, yummy hazelnut, chocolate goodness.

La recette des crêpes à la français (pour dessert)


250 grams of flour

30 grams of brown sugar
1/2 liter of milk
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of oil

1. In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, and salt
2. Add the eggs, dilute the mixture with milk, and mix well.
3. When the mixture is smooth add the oil and wisk.
4. Cook each crêpe in a warm, greased pan (use butter for extra flavor, it's worth it!) About one to two minutes on each side.
5. Let them cool on a platter for up to 5 minutes.
6. You can eat your dessert crêpes with jam, sugar, honey, chocolate, the options are seemingly endless. Bon appetit!
What a lunch, what a day, what a semester. So... my plane departs 11am tomorrow (5am EST) and I land in New York at 7 pm. Please wish me a pleasant flight; no matter how often I take planes, I never seem to be able to enjoy them. Hope you're having a spectacular week! It's back to life in America for this girl...
"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."
-The Wonder Years

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

the end of an era

Sorry to have been MIA for a few days! Not only have I been running around like a mad woman- studying for final exams, closing accounts, returning Madeleine, purchasing Alsatian souvenirs- but I've been anxious the entire time while doing it. After a year of traveling and self-exploration am I really ready to go back to my routine life in the United States? And even if I am do I want to be? Eek, there I go again.

Last Friday was my study abroad program's farewell dinner. What a wonderfully emotional time that was :).

Everyone was getting together for photos, like this fantastic group of girls that I went to Barcelona with.

I'm going to miss my friends.

The meal began with a small piece of Quiche Lorraine and a salad.

This restaurant was amazing! Each bite was delicious and paired perfectly with my glass of Riesling.

I've gone into both of my study abroad experiences not knowing anyone and we've all come out of it as close as can be.

With dinner my friends and I split a bottle of Bordeaux.

It was a good choice for the duck, sauerkraut, and potatoes. Supposedly the duck, in particular, rocked... but as it turns out, duck is just not my thing. Oh well.

My fellow globetrotter, Genevieve: Chilean memories last a lifetime.

As for dessert we were served a raspberry compote with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream. I don't know what they did to this but it was incredible, the mint leaves were the perfect addition!
Then it was time for speeches (and tears). We officially sad goodbye to the music students, they're headed to Berlin and Vienna for the final part of their conservatory studies.

I wasn't able to get as close with each person as I'd like but I nonetheless wished them all the best of luck. They are so talented!

I took a lot of pictures that night. Candid shots, especially of the best of friends, are awesome :). Gosh, I'm going to miss my friends.

After leaving the restaurant we made our way to a nearby brasserie with the majority of students and a few professors, haha, what fun that was.

Following a few hours of drinking and final bonding my friends and I still weren't ready to go home so clearly, we rode our bikes to another bar. Here's Julia and Elizabeth racing past Strasbourg's cathedral.

No more drinking for me though, I was famished!

It could very well have been because of the fact that I hardly touched my duck at dinner. I had a Tarte aux oignons which I devoured, apart from the two slices I shared with my girls.

Then we played some pool, by this time it was about four in the morning. Was it even worth it to go to bed yet?

Not before a little pain au chocolat! On our walk home qwsmelled the fabulous bread and pastries being baked for Saturday morning and couldn't resist. One very generous boulangerie broke the rules to give us warm, out the oven, crispy, buttery, perfection.
And that was that, another great memory from Strasbourg that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. I'm such a sentimental sap, huh? :) Now before I get back to studying I present you with the birthday gift I baked for my host-sister this morning, Double Chocolate Crisp Cookies. We're having a small gathering at our house this evening to celebrate and I'm hoping everyone will appreciate the homemade dessert.

What a whirlwind of a trip. Hope you're having a very happy Tuesday, I'll be back at least once more before heading... home...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

bon chance

Good luck... for what reason? Well, my dears, I thought the translation was worth discussing. To look up luck in a English-French dictionary you'll find chance. Hm, we also have the word chance, meaning the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled.  And I've got to hand it to the French, I like that interpretation of luck a lot better. We get plenty of chances each day, some bring about the opportunity, or even better the ocasion, to change some aspect of our lives, and others simply redefine our life, but each choice we make is a chance. This chance dictates what happens next for the most part, and I'd like to think that the future is not solely based on some intangible stroke of luck, but by my own decisions. Every day brings more than opportunities, it brings occasions (English-French translation of opportunity) for us to take control of who we are and who we want to be. Think about it, take each chance, make a difference.
It is not by luck that I've been living abroad the past year, my university created an outstanding  program and I simply took the chance to experience it. It took preparation and hard work for sure, but it has also been one of the best decisions I've ever made. So very worth it. Ecuador and Chile marked the beginning of my personal metamorphosis, a continuous change of growth that has continued into my far to short months in Strasbourg, France. Along the way I've left some of myself in each country I've lived and visited with the people that I've become close to, and I've taken away the everlasting memories of the love and generosity of their  priceless relationships. 
My French host-mom has been one of those people that have touched my life in more ways than I think she will ever understand. She is making a last-minute trip with her niece and won't return before I leave Strasbourg for good, we only have 4 more days. I'm ridiculously upset about it, as I would expect my sentimental self to be, but all is not lost. I am thankful for having had the chance to live with her and get to know her so well and I know that we will be able to keep close contact in the future if I stand by my word. And why wouldn't I, if for nothing else just to thank her for helping me get better... by making the most bland and simple food delicious because she knew that it would make all the difference to me, for instance. Haha, that is one of many reasons, of course, I simply thought you'd like to know an example ;). Now that my entire body is back in tip-top condition breakfast was quite the exciting occasion. I had two mini-waffles with PB and Jelly and a bowl of homemade unsweetened rice pudding with banana slices and yellow raisins. Everything was delectable with my daily cup of green tea and now I'm looking forward to the play I'm going to see later this afternoon with my modern French drama class. Do I consider myself lucky? Yes I do, but I also know that it results from my own well doing and that of others whom I'm ever so thankful to know. There they are, my weekend musings, now go along and please have yourself an absolutely wonderful Sunday :).

Friday, April 24, 2009

one last time

I spent last Saturday in Heidelberg, another adorable town in driving distance from Strasbourg, for probably my final visit to Allemagne.

One of the special sights was the ruins of this castle, a mix of Gothic and Renaissance, that was first constructed in the 14th century.

The weather was definitely not in our favor but it did give the town a magical, dreamlike feel to look on the bright side :).

After a thorough tour we were all very ready for lunch.

I began with a small beer and Hungarian Goulash soup. I know, I know, not German but I couldn't resist, I have such fond memories of Hungary.

Then I had a salad served alongside potato cakes, tomatoes, and mozzarella.

The rest of my friends enjoyed the authentic German fare.

Afterwards we explored the old town a bit, I, of course, took special notice of the Fruit & Vegetable Market.

Along our way we made friends with a group of Germans who invited us to wine and dine with them as an afternoon snack.
My friend and I both purchased a glass of wine and joined them at the table to try the olive bread, salami, and cheese, they had just purchased from the vendors in the market.

Finally, at around 5 pm, we bought coffee to go and boarded the bus back to France. It was really such a nice day. Now, about that "probably the final visit" bit... I may cross the border once more tonight to go to a German disco... we'll see :).
As a closing, I'd like to remind you all to please keep Jenna in your thoughts and prayers today. Life is such a delicate and precious thing, we must never forget to appreciate and honor it. Take care. God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor crying, nether shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. -Revelation 21:4