Tag Archives: food

Buying Local = Tastes Better?

I would say that the majority of the time, buying local does taste better. It also has a lot less mileage, perhaps fewer chemicals, and/or less processing. Cool, I like that! And I normally am a huge supporter of local farms, farmers markets, and locally stocked stores (one of my favorite farms is Polyface Farm, fav. grocery store is C’ville Market, and of course the City Market, all in Charlottesville, Virginia).

But grocery shopping here in France can be somewhat depressing, especially when I’ve been mainly exposed to the hyper-marchés like Carrefour. Not to say that we don’t have hyper-markets in the US – we do and I’m pretty sure America invented those horrible things (aka Walmart, Kmart, Food Lion, Giant; even the names convey “We’re big and we like it!”) – but, when you arrive in France, you kind of expect to have grocery stores to go along with the stereotype of amazing French food. Right? No, wrong!

And what does “local” food consist of in my Carrefour? Fruit from Corsica. I love Corsica and, even though Corsica is on the other side of the country, that’s more local than the other stuff there. They had some delicious Corsican clementines last fall and now they are offering an abundance of grapefruit. I’ll take a few of those, thanks!

I’ve now eaten two Corsican grapefruits and feel even more depressed. They are not very juicy and they hurt my stomach a bit. I have previously bought Florida grapefruit from the Monoprix (where I hate to shop because: 1) it’s expensive, 2) it’s expensive, 3) their fresh foods selection is despicable). And the Florida grapefruit was WAYYYY better (go Florida citrus!).

You think that the Corsican grapefruit would be logically a bit better due to it’s shorter travel distance, compared to it’s Florida friend who probably has some sort of United Airlines Frequent Flyer Miles, and perhaps a shorter storage duration than the Florida grapefruit. But noooooo. The Florida grapefruit wins here. I like supporting the Florida citrus business, so I guess that’s alright. But I’d still much prefer to buy local!!

There is a local “farm” store around the corner but I’m afraid it is going to be extremely expensive. I’ll have to go check it out. But, until then, I’ll have to decide where I’m going to buy my fruit: money-hungry Monoprix or crusty Carrefour.

I’d love to know if you have any grocery store options that are any better than those two!

PS – I have been to the market in Wazemmes but I am not sure how “local” the produce is there. Does anyone know? I don’t know why but I have the feeling that the produce is bought from sellers and that the men who sell fruits and vegetables in the market are also sellers and not really farmers. I’d like to know if I am wrong though! I love it there and we try to go as often as possible but it’d be even better if it were locally sourced.




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___ make everything better

Yesterday was a difficult day. I learned that my granny is in the hospital and that my roommate situation has yet again changed for next year. Eck. But at least class was canceled that evening (which means 3 hours next Monday…?!?!) and I got to come home early.

All I wanted all day was a huge hug to make everything feel ok. HUGS FOREVER!

Here’s my list (just a few of many many things that make me feel great):

Hugs make everything better.
Tea makes everything better.
Blue skies and sun make everything better.
The smell of a loved ones perfume makes everything better.
Fluffy pillows and a cozy comforter make everything better.
A beautiful dinner (breakfast/lunch/any meal) makes everything better.
Warm sweaters and big socks make everything better.
A magazine with glossy photos makes everything better.
Your friends and family make everything better.
The beach makes everything better.

I could go on and on. But I’m sure you know exactly how I feel when I say that sometimes all you want is to cozy up, feel good with the things you love, and take a little me-time.

What makes things feel good for you? I’d love to know…maybe you’ll inspire me (please do!).


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The other night a few friends came over and we all made sushi. And, who, you might ask, taught you to make this wonderful sushi? サー Yuki Eriguchi!

Here are some photos from the night. There are no photos of the final result (although I think Yuki might have one). We ate them all too fast!!

Yuki fanning the rice with his grandmother's fan, Jasper observing.

Our master watching over the ingredients: cucumber, avacado, salmon, tuna, egg, rice

...roll your sushi with love and zen...


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La Grande Bouffe

The Christmas season this year was The Marathon Of Joy and Good Food.

December 20th: Olivier and I made our way through the perfect layer of snow to Paris, kicking off the celebrations with a Depois family lunch. Everyone welcomed me so warmly, made me feel like a part of the big bustling festivities, and we all ate our hearts out with delicious cuisine. And I was overjoyed to finally meet people I had heard so many good things about, and the talented Marion, who makes beautiful, kwirky jewelry that I love. Then, after lunch, we brushed off our sedation and all the kids, plus Maminic of course, joined us for a vicious snow ball fight in the back yard. Maminic and Papili are two of the most wonderful, gracious people and I thank you both so much for everything, for the soup blender which I have already used and laughed the whole time (very fun! kind of messy, I have to perfect my skills) and for the fun sleepover! Foie Gras Count: 1.

December 21st – 25th: After saying our goodbyes to Maminic and Papili around mid-day, we packed up our things and trudged through the metro and snow to the apartment my parents and the Semnachers had rented – which was massive with lots and lots of art by Cocteau (Cocteau EVERYWHERE). It was a gay man’s fantasy, with all that phallic art, but worked just as well for our crazy families of 7 people total (maybe not big for you, but HUGE for me, my family is tiny tiny), running around, cooking, jumping into the bathrooms to take showers when you had the chance. We saved every bottle of wine we drank (not my idea, nor Claire’s, but our parents) and had a fine collection running the span (and maybe more) of the gigantic mantle piece by the end of the stay. And we cooked up some of the most exquisite dishes (thanks mostly in part to my mother and Paul), things like: bouillon base soup with gorgeous cockles, scallops, shrimps, fish, tomatoes and saffron, a beautiful fat goose for Christmas day, you can imagine what a good time we had! And for Christmas, we went to the midnight mass at Saint Eustache, which was highly impressive with red candles sprinkled all over, the high ceilings lit up with carols, and the most beautiful organ in Paris. Foie Gras Count: 2.

December 26th: The day after Christmas the Semnachers and the Morrish/Dvells/Kvan clan wrapped ourselves tightly in our coats, gloves, hats and scarves jumped quickly into two cabs and made our way to the Eiffel Tower. After taking elevators to the 2nd floor, my mom, Claire, Paul, Mikaela, and I jostled our way onto the elevator to the tippy-top. I got a big woozy because for some reason I now sort of dislike heights but the view was amazing (ahhhh….puke) so I liked to stay on the upper level with the glass and the photo maps where you can identify landmarks. Then, after making our way back down the tower (phew, thank god…) I ran off to take the train to meet the Clairouin family. It was so wonderful to meet the other side of the family and to finally put so many faces to names I had heard so often, and finally the Clairouin grandparents, who were so warm and kind to me – and gave me a brilliantly blue scarf! Thank you so much, it’s my perfect color! I am just absolutely overwhelmed by how welcoming, generous, and affectionate the entire Clairouin and Depois family is. I cannot thank you enough! Foie Gras Count: 3.

December 27th: The Clairouin family (except for JB and Angelique, I wish you could have been there!) came over to the apartment for an enormous lunch: champagne, red wine, porc filled with figs and encrusted in fennel, roast potatoes, salad, magnificent cheese from Normandie, and a beautiful apple tart made by Mikaela. So much fun, so many laughs, and perfect to have everyone together. Then we went for a long walk across the Seine, while the sun set, and attempted to walk off some calories from the past week.

December 28th-29th: The last days in Paris were filled with running around, buying the last bits and bobs, checking out a vintage store where everything was imported from the USA (oh, well…), and a Jonak stock store (Ah! Cheap leatherrrr…puurrrrr, meow). Our goodbyes were said to the Semnachers on the 29th as we made our way to Lille.

December 29th-30th: Bill, mom, and Mikaela loved Lille. We split up so we could cover our own territory: Bill heading off to check out Rem Koolhaas’ buildings and the rest of us to poke around Vieux Lille. It was cozy to have them here to see our apartment, to cook some good meals, and to forget about the forever grey skies in Lille.

December 31st-January 1st: After saying goodbye to my family in the morning, we went off to the grocery store to stock up on champagne and food for the evening and at 5pm the gang arrived: PARTY TIME! It was so much fun to see all our friends again, to joke around, cook, and eat drink eat drink eat drink eat drink drink drink. It was an amazing and relaxing New Years. In the morning (no, actually, afternoon), despite what I think must have been negative temperatures, we took a walk around town, ate roasted chestnuts, and came back to the apartment for a cup of tea. After everyone left, Olivier and I watched a classic French film from 1973, recommended by Bruno, about four best friends who decide to kill themselves by overeating and having sex with the same women (no, no, not killing themselves by having sex with the same women, that was just another part of the plot), anyways, really 1970s French artistique. Seriously, either the best way to end this marathon or the worst…either way, I don’t feel like eating ever again 😉 (but you know that I’m only 1/4 kidding when I say that!). Foie Gras Count: 4 (And we still have some in our fridge. Please call me if you would like it. Seriously, call me.)


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La Grande Braderie

This weekend was absolutely insane. I think the only way to describe the Grande Braderie is a Big Mess. Thousands of vendors came from all over the region – Belgium, the Netherlands, all of France, England, and Germany, to celebrate one of the largest flea markets in Europe. Despite a few obstacles during the Braderie, such as the GRIPPE! (swine flu), stores not selling alcohol after 3pm to avoid drunken mobs, a big brawl in the Grand Place between drunkards and police at 4am, and the fact that NO ONE slept well the whole weekend because of all the noise, the Grande Braderie was so awesome and totally fou.

Our friends started arriving on Friday at around 5pm, began the apero while waiting for others to arrive, and watched the madness start to unfold out of our window – vans parked everywhere on the sidewalk, vendors sleeping in tents on the street, and hordes of people arriving to Lille by train, car, or bike every second.

Irina, Gaetan, Claire, Markus, Olivier, and Arthur

On Saturday, I woke up to a marathon outside our window and all the vendors prepared to sell their goods.

As the minutes passed and the marathon came to an end, the street began to buzz louder and louder. When everyone at the apartment was ready to submerge into the crowds we went out. Here’s a few pictures from the day – quiet streets turned into traffic jams, massive amounts of food to feed the hungry, and policemen on horses to control the crowds. At one point, I was so overwhelmed by the amount of people, by my inability to communicate in French because of exhaustion, and because I dropped kebab grease on my shoe, that I just shut down and felt I could not go on any longer. But, alas, ’tis the Grande Braderie, and thus I forged on!

For lunch on Saturday I tried mussels and fries – the traditional Grande Braderie meal. Lets just say that I can wait until next Grande Braderie to eat mussels again! And, of course, we bought some things for the apartment:
– egg cups
– a big poster for the living room wall
– a mortar and pestle
– a butter dish
– a dress for one euro (I bought this one obviously not for the apartment but for myself)

My friends bought stuff like a carpet, a recipe box full of recipes from the 60s, a tea kettle, TONS of old clothing, including two suits for both Alex and Gaetan who wore them to a big party one night and looked like gangsters from the 20s with their black hats, black suits, and cigarettes. You could literally buy anything at the Braderie – from skis to second hand everything to snakes and lizards.

Here is a view of the Braderie from our window at the height of the weekend. There was a steady stream of people exactly like this from Saturday to Sunday.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend full of apartment parties, street parties at 4am, and odd purchases. Now, I am absolutely dead and want to stay in a hole for at least a week.

How are your lives? It is the beginning of the first semester for a lot of you – is it going well? And for those of you in the northern hemisphere, did you notice how the weather changed this week so suddenly? It’s COLD now! Summer is really over, true fall is on it’s way!


Filed under Daily Life