Monday, June 29, 2009

Oui Chef!

Today was my first day of classes in the Intensive Basic Pastry course at LCB. They aren't kidding about the intensive part. I'll be in class until 9:30pm tomorrow night. My classmates are a pretty cool, diverse group. There's another girl from Austin attending. Small world, huh? Most of the other students are from Asia and a few from Canada. Thankfully, English is the universal language. I had lunch with a very cool classmate from Turkey who is currently living with her husband and 4 year old in Basal, Sweden. LCB served an amazing buffet of assorted cheeses, bread, and foie gras. I'll just take 2 Evening Primrose Oil capsules tonight for my cholesterol because that foie gras was so worth it!

Tomorrow is our first day out of the classroom and in the kitchen. We're making shortbreads. By the way, A/C is not a widely used convenience in France so the kitchen should be cooking- literally and figuratively. I only took a pic of the outside of the school as I was too scared to get out my camera during chef's demo. Some of my more intrepid classmates took some snaps so I'm going to give it a go tomorrow. All of LCB's chefs only speak French so a lovely American or English woman take turns translating for us. I'm told not to worry about being able to communicate with chef because the only expected response is, "Oui Chef!" Actually, he seems pretty approachable for a French chef who has been cooking since he was a 14 year old apprentice. He's probably pretty funny- he certainly laughs at his own jokes a lot. Maybe one day I'll understand enough French to actually laugh instead of politely smiling. We'll see...

On another note, the French version of Target is just around the corner from my apartment. I've already visited twice in the 3 days I've been here. Monoprix is awesome! It is nestled among the sex shops and brothels in Pigalle. Pigalle was historically the red light district so they're trying to keep some semblance to draw in tourists. And does it ever! I thought I was getting out of the tourist district but apparently there is no such thing in Paris in the summer. Parisians are starting to leave for holiday to avoid the swarms. I thought Bermuda shorts and running shoes was the American tourist uniform but I was shocked to hear a couple outfitted in such speaking some dialect of French. Definitely tourists from some EU nation. A lot of the touristy looking people I've seen weren't speaking English. Perhaps Europeans are doing "staycations" due to the economy? Naturally, I'm an easy mark even if I'd rather die than wear Bermuda shorts. It must be something about the way I say "pardon " or "excuse moi." I accidently bumped into a pretty French girl in line at Monoprix - I even remembered to say "desole" instead of "lo siento" but she still replied in English and waived me ahead of her in line. It was charming of her even if my first response was to grit my teeth.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

An American in Paris (finally)

Sorry for the cheesy title, I couldn't resist. But then I am practically delirious. After nearly 24 hours of travel, I finally made it! I'm so far past exhaustion forgive me if this is gibberish. The photo at left is of the court yard that leads into the building where the studio I rented is located. I have to enter two pass codes on the exterior and interior gates and then navigate a tricky lock to get into the studio.

I had a minor meltdown over that lock when I  returned from Monoprix (had to make a grocery run first thing) with my arms full of bags and was unable to get the door opened. I heard someone speaking and ran upstairs in a panic to waylay anyone who could help me get that door open. So I met my neighbor -she seems lovely but we didn't understand a word one another said. We managed to pantomime well enough back and forth for her to show me how to navigate the lock. Crisis averted. Now I just have to take a deep breath and acknowledge that little incidents like that are going to occur quite a bit as I get acclimated.  I'm sure I'm going to learn a whole lot on this trip and not all of it's going to involve baking techniques!

I'm going to finish a glass of wine while listening to Wilco's soon to be released new album- NPR is streaming it in entirety before the release on Tues. Then I'm going to crash. Not bad for my first night in Paris. Bon nuit- S.