I didn’t write in this blog or do anything weird this weekend. This weekend we all got on a plane and flew to France. (Our annual family vacation to France.) Even though the kids have flown often, I still worry about keeping them entertained. In an attempt to have Ben do something other than iPad or video watching I asked him to draw a picture of me. He took this very seriously. He began by holding up a pencil while closing an eye. He earnestly studied my very handsome masculine face… and then he began to commit what he was seeing to paper. That is at least what I thought he was doing. (Drawing me… what could go wrong?)
I saw this…umm… I was ready to tell him just to go back to video watching. (One eyeball is not even on my head… and what is with the rat teeth). I then quickly thought that I can’t have Isabelle see this… she will probably hang it somewhere prominent. Mom’s can be a bit “blind” to these kind of things… not realizing that this would only show how untalented our son is… or worse how weird he thinks his father appears. I was thinking about “accidently” spilling my coke on it… and then realized there was a much better way… I asked him to draw mom!
It turned out better than I could have imagined. I was hoping to play her vanity against her motherly pride… but now I had a picture that put in to question her loving and patient parenting skills. (I may look “goofy” in mine.. but at least I don’t look “mean”) Most people that know her would laugh… but it is still perfect since I could always follow up with… you never know what happens behind closed doors. This picture was so good that instead of keeping it as a counter argument for not showing mine… I have decided to post them both here knowing mine will be forgotten once you see hers.
Ok… back to our travels….
The plane flight went very well and in Paris we honestly “flew” through passport control and customs . (I am not sure I can say “honestly flew”… since we were “actually” walking really fast) I seem to always stress when it comes to connections especially where there is a short time. We had what I thought would be not enough time between landing in Paris and leaving on our train for Strasbourg…. but I was completely wrong. This time even with the “I have to go to the bathroom” delays… made it with perfect timing. We didn’t miss our connection, have to run or pee our pants… and we didn’t have to sit for 6 hours waiting for the next train
If you ever fly into Charles de Gaule airport and need to take a train it is very convenient since the train station is located at the airport. I am sure that many Americans do not think about taking a train but I enjoy them… especially the TGV and sitting in first class. In the picture above you see the children on the train playing Uno and they look surprisingly awake.
When I travel I always look at google timeline and see where I have been and how much time and distance I travelled between places. It can be eerily accurate as you can see by our 417 km train ride that took 2 hours and 2 minutes (Paris to Strasbourg on the TGV). It can also be completely off… like our 6.6 km airplane ride that took 3 hours and 29 minutes. (worlds slowest airplane). hmmm… In reading this back… I realize that this might have been the most boring paragraph I have ever written for this blog.
Speaking of boring, my children soon became bored with Uno. I am a caring father so I searched the train for entertainment. In between cars I found a sign showing some new game for children. The game had no written instructions only a picture and I knew exactly what this meant… this game is appropriate for all ages. (even those who are not old enough to read) This would be perfect for all of my children and I named it the “Yellow Hand” game. (based upon the picture) I went and got them but not one of them wanted play. They all demonstrated a complete lack of adventure. I tried to coerce them by explaining that there was very little effort needed on their part… all they had to do was hold their hand in the door as it closed. So disappointing… and I am left wondering would a hand really turn yellow? Oh… ya… I have one other quick question for those of you who are more “grammatically” gifted… is it correct to have punctuation (“!”) if you don’t have words? (hmmm… and should I have assumed a certain age based upon the presence of punctuation?)
We arrived at “mami’s” house (Isabelle’s mother) and the weather was beautifully warm and sunny. I love springtime especially when it isn’t raining and I am not home doing yard work. When we arrived, even the children noted how beautiful everything was especially the magnolia tree next to the house. One of them… (can’t remember which one… they were very noisy) asked if we could bring some seeds back home from the tree. I said we already had “lots”… but in Utah they look different… and are called sage brush. (only a “white lie”. I am not sure they would grow in Utah… plus you should see the ground… what a mess)
I have not yet used my “good” camera. These photos were taken with my phone and the magnolia picture… well google decided to apply some “effects”… not sure why google randomly does this. I personally think it is messing with me.
I forgot to mention the fact that Isabelle did not come with us from the train station to her mother’s. She unfortunately had to attend the funeral of a dear friend’s father. She left directly from the train station while her sister drove the kids and I to her mother’s home. Yes… I selflessly stayed with the children (actually I got stuck with them…).
We quickly ran to Super U (weird name for a grocery store… huh…) so I could make them something for dinner. We bought my children’s idea of “French dietary staples”:
- coquillette (elbow macaroni)
- des lardon (American bacon cut up into little pieces)
- pommes noisettes (little mashed potato balls that are crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle)
- une baguette (you know… the bread you always see in movies about France)
- Orangina (orange soda… with real orange pulp… at least I think it is real… if it isn’t… I wonder what it is made of… )
As you see in the picture above I also patiently (or lazily) taught them to make their own dinner. (So I lied when I wrote “so I could make them dinner”… but again it is just a little white lie since they need to learn how to be self-sufficient)
I also wanted to add my idea of “french dietary staples”. Here are the items I bought for myself.
I consider these items “gateway” food to real french cuisine (with the exception of the mauricette). Let me explain the mauricette. This is a delicious pretzel like roll found in Alsace and you can not go wrong when serving these to Americans… actually you can go wrong if you argue with your wife that they are “P”retzels not “B”retzels.
l’Ortolan: (french cheese gateway for Americans)
This is a baby step towards real french cheese. It is a delicious… almost butter flavored cheese that feels and looks like camembert. It is so mild, delicious, and really easy to like. I have met very few Americans who don’t love it. If you are unfamiliar with and nervous about trying french cheese (especially the stinky, or runny ones) this is definitely a good starting place. One “pro” tip… (I have seen this done… so don’t laugh) don’t cut off the white mold… you eat it. Once you have had this… you can try anything… maybe Roquefort… and when you spit it out in disgust… you can remember that you have eaten at least one french cheese that you liked. (I love roquefort as well… but you may not)
Rillettes: (pâté and fois gras gateway for Americans)
I know that there are some french readers out there who will be rolling their eyes with this one… but from the view point of an American trust me. French like to eat meat that looks like it belongs in a can of cat food. WORSE… It is often made of liver and sometimes liver from mistreated geese or ducks. Rillettes is the best introduction to this cat food eating culture. First of all the texture feels more like meat should feel. Second it is shredded pork and has a nice pork almost bacon-y taste. Once you have become accustom to eating cat food (think of the money you could save)… you will be ready to try pate and even fois gras. Here is another pro tip… don’t put ketchup on the fois gras it really bothers the french… trust me.
Oh… I had best tell you that I don’t mix the cheese and the meat… I made two mauricettes… one with l’ortolan and the other with the rillettes.. (don’t want you to think I am “weird”)
Stay tuned… I will be sharing my vacation over the next several weeks… maybe there will be some more “Pro” tips.