Sunday, October 25, 2009

Partner in Crime, and Other Updates

Oh dearie me so much to catch up on!

First, and most exciting, Franglophone Fou (well, he's really more of an anglophone at the moment, but that's going to change rapidly) is coming to join me in the joyous insanity of being an English assistant in France! Franglophone Fou, aka Logan, managed to nab the last English assistant spot in the region, in Le Havre. It's less than an hour away from Rouen by train, and he has free housing there; we both got really really lucky. So I've spent the last few weeks translating oodles of e-mails from French to English and English to French, summarizing visa requirements, and generally smoothing the path for him, since I've done it all twice now and I speak French. The translating has been really fun - it's pretty straightforward stuff, but it's still satisfying when a certain phrase clicks just right in one of the languages.

Second, my chest x-ray and medical visit both went swimmingly (this time it was a woman who didn't pull up my shirt and didn't lecture me about having scoliosis, so definitely an improvement from last year) except that they didn't have the little sticker to put in my passport, so I have to go back to collect that tomorrow. This year, instead of having to go to the oh-so-intimidating Préfecture to get our titres de séjour, they've streamlined the process and all we need is the sticker! So as of tomorrow I will be all set with the immigration office, and the only paperwork I'll have left will be for Sécurité Sociale.

Third, we have Internet now! Well, we've actually had it for about a week and a half, which may or may not be why there have been no blog posts for a while... I am a very easily distractible person, and part of me (related to the part that still thinks I'll eventually read every book in the world) likes to catch up daily on every single web page I read regularly. This, obviously, poses a problem, but it's getting better.

Fourth, I've started teaching for real, and this year I got the idea (from one of our training days) to say that my classroom is a little tiny part of the USA, so when the students walk in, they speak English and everybody's happy! It worked the first few classes, so we shall see how it goes as they become more comfortable with me and less intimidated, and therefore chat more. The students are much the same as last year - some are amazingly motivated and adorable, and some quite simply hate English (one boy actually said, when the teacher asked if he had heard where I come from in the US, "Non, mais on s'en fout, quoi" (No, I didn't, but I don't give a shit anyway). What a lovely way to start class!). I did run into two of my best students from last year out and about in Rouen; both of them approached me, remembered my name, and chatted for a bit in English! It's those students that make it all worthwhile.

Fifth, I finally cleaned up my room, so I can now share before and after photos. The night I arrived:

I know, I know, the horror, the horror. It didn't stay like that for long, but then I just shoved everything into my closet or onto my shelves or my desk, and things stayed there for waaaaaaaaay longer than I'd like to admit. But then life got much prettier when I finally just girded my loins and dealt with it, with these happy results:

Hooray for clean rooms! Living here will (I fervently hope) make it easier for me to get rid of things back home that I haven't used in ages, because I can live quite happily on everything I have here. Except I do miss my sewing machine... and my lap desk... and my comforter cover... Okay, I will never be a minimalist, and I'm at peace with that.

Sixth and finally, I went on my biggest market trip so far this year, having a few recipes in mind. First, a roasted vegetable and goat cheese sandwich for lunch, which turned out beautifully if I do say so myself:

I cut part of an onion and half a zucchini into slabs, drizzled them with olive oil, and chucked them into the oven for a bit (a red pepper joined them later). Then I took my plain fresh goat cheese (not the kind with a rind) and added lemon zest, oregano, and thyme. Put that all together, along with some salad greens, on good fresh bread and you have happiness in the palm of (or in this case, all over) your hand. Yumyumyum.

I also bought persimmons, which my Russian roommate from last year introduced me to. The nice man at the stall asked me when I wanted to eat them and picked out a nice range of ripeness so they won't all go bad at once, a service that is very common at the market and incredibly useful. One looked like it was about to burst from juicy sweetness, so I ate that one today and it was very good. Once you get your mind wrapped around eating something that looks like a tomato but tastes sweeter than any other fruit I know of, persimmons are delicious.

On the way home, I screwed my courage to the sticking point and went into the poissonnerie whose oysters and mussels and clams always look so good and yet so scary. I tend to become a vegetarian when I cook for myself, only because cooking meat frightens me deeply, so I'm trying to conquer that fear. My recipe is for bronzed sea bass with lemon-shallot butter (from The Pioneer Woman, who is hilarious and wonderful and has really good recipes). I couldn't find "sea bass" in my online dictionary, but the Pioneer Woman, always helpful, said that halibut or salmon would work too. Armed with the French translations of those varieties (flétan and saumon, for those of you who care), I stepped into the briny world of lobsters, scallops, and more whole fish staring at me than I've ever seen in one place. There were even flounder! Being all flat! The only fish they had available as a filet was something called "cabillaud", but it was white and looked innocuous enough, so I bought a small chunk and headed home, my reusable pink shopping bag full to bursting with fresh delectables. After making my delicious delicious sandwich, I decided to look up what kind of fish I'd actually bought. "Cabillaud", I typed into my trusty French-English dictionary. "Cod", it told me. Oh. Good to know. Here's hoping cod works with my recipe...

Wow, this is kind of turning into a cooking blog. Sorry about that. I just really enjoy having enough time to plan meals and shop for them at the market - I feel all grown-up and French!

No comments:

Post a Comment