04 December 2013

Keeping up with the Lepères - in Jozi

The countdown is under way!  The movers come next week, we're in a frenzy to pack and get our lives in order before we board our one-way flight to Johannesburg.  Why I thought moving during the holidays was a good idea - is beyond me.  I blame the post-pregnancy hormones.

I won't be ec in Paris anymore, now will I?  This blog will become dormant shortly, so if you want to keep up with us as we discover our new home, you'll want to point your browsers here:

Amakwezi - our South African adventure

You'll learn what Amakwezi means when you read the introduction, my friends.

Back to packing/being a working mom/freaking out/saying good-bye.  Happy Holidays!

14 September 2013

Saying Good-bye to Paris

Well, we finally got the news we've been waiting on for almost a year now.  The date on which our Parisian life expires and a new life begins on the African continent. We have only a short time to pack up our lives, say good-bye to family and friends, and move our little family unit out on this great adventure.

Since learning that our departure is eminent, I'm starting to reflect on what I will miss in Paris and France.  This is where I've had some of life's greatest moments.  I fell in love with my true soul mate in one of the most romantic cities in the world.  We've kissed by the lit up Eiffel Tower, we fell for each other while weaving our way across the city of light during a midnight walk, we began our life as husband and wife, and we cried tears of joy as our son came into our lives.  All in this city.  Despite the occasional complaining about the city's aggressive, self-obsessed nature, Paris became my second home.  I came here as a young woman, and now I've blossomed into a professional, a wife, a mom and in a sense, a Parisian lady. 

I'll miss the presentation of this city.  Everything is so meticulously, artfully presented.  From pastries to shoes, cars to cheeses, Paris delves into all of your senses and awakens you.  It's harsh, it can be cold and gray, it can kick you in the gut and make you curse.  But at the end of the day, all you need sometimes is to walk by a lit up Eiffel Tower or a boat ride past the majestic Notre-Dame, and you remember why you chose to live here.  The magic never really dies.

Our Christmas will now be in summer.  Our wedding anniversary in winter.  We'll go from green tree-lined boulevards to vibrant purple jacaranda-lined streets.  The metro will be exchanged for a car, and the left side of the road will become our correct side.  We'll trade in the tricolore for the rainbow nation.  One major language will become eleven.  BBQs, cricket and rugby matches will become our weekend affairs.  Instead of escaping to Berlin, Rome or London, we'll now attempt Maputo, Windhoek, and Cape Town.

It won't be easy.  Our new home is full of challenges - crime, bureaucracy, power shortages, and heart wrenching poverty.  But knowing hubby and me, we'll make this new place our home.  We want to become engrained in this new community and savor every moment of this incredible opportunity.  And to be honest, I can't think of a better place to raise our son.  He will see a melting pot of people, he will learn to be thankful for what he has, and he will be surrounded by some of the most beautiful, natural places on earth.

So we shall start to say farewell for now to Paris, knowing that we will come back to our friends and family, and hopefully they will come and visit us on the other end of the world.  But every good story must come to an end - but at least another one is just beginning.

21 January 2013

I'm waiting on a happy event

Over the past month, it has become blatently apparent that I am sharing my body with another being.  I'll feel these twitches in my abdomen that feel like a muscle spasm or a big popping bubble, and I'm reminded that the bulge in my tummy is not from too much cake or beer, but from an ever growing bundle of joy.

Yes, as the French say, I'm waiting on a happy event.  A bébé.

All of a sudden, I've been whisked into this adventure and into the French healthcare system.  The government views me as a revered being, this thing that needs to be monitored and protected at all costs.  I need not stress, I need not worry about money - Mama Marianne is gonna take good care of me.  Coworkers and family view me as someone to welcome into the clan of motherhood.  They give me advice (good or bad...) and tell stories of their pregnancies and birthing sessions.  Other Parisians view me as that horrid round woman who had the audacity to demand that they give up their seat so that I may sit down and not worry about falling.  Or they just don't view me at all as they hide behind their newspaper, pretending not to see me (and these are the folks I go for when asking for a seat!)

And can we please talk about living in a country with more cheeses than days of the year, and all of a sudden you can't eat but five of them?

Being pregnant in a country that is not your own and that is far away from your family and friends is quite the overwhelming experience.  Things that you see your friends experiencing through their own pregnancies may not necessarily work over here.  You can't get some of the same baby gear that they are getting.  There are a few commonalities, but not many.  And can we talk about the vocabulary you have to learn - both medical, commercial and baby talk?  I'm definitely earning my Master's in French as a Mommy Language.

So what do I see as being the good, the bad and the ugly from my experience thus far?

20 December 2012

Bye Bye 2012...and Paris?

Oh hey.  Remember me?  One of the many Americans who lives in Paris and talks mostly about the food.  Yea, I finally felt like writing.  Mostly because I don't want to stand up and make Christmas cookies for the next few hours.

About the time of my last post, the hubby and I got some life changing news.  And all my thoughts turned to that.  Suddenly, I couldn't really go out to the hot and trendy restaurants, because half the menu is off limits to me.  And most of the time, I come home from work and just want to crash from being so tired.  All excess energy reserves have to be focused on how to handle this life change.  It sounds depressing, I know...but really, the changes that are coming are quite the blessing.

Fast forward two months, and we get more life changing news.  We might be leaving Paris.  Changing continents.  Changing lifestyles even more.  It's really been a lot to take in.

I love France, and I love Paris.  I am so lucky to be able to have all these museums, beautiful buildings and gastronomical gems at my disposal.  My French family goes beyond my wildest dreams and makes me feel so welcome here all the time.  For the first time in my life, I can truly say that I feel like I can be myself.  Before, I never imagined that I would actually make a life here.  Now, I can't imagine a life where this wasn't the picture.  But the hubby and I are excited about these new possibilities, despite the eyebrow raises and the scared reactions we tend to get when we announce where we might be going.

And to be honest, I'm ready.  While the magic of Paris never fully goes away, I'm over the attitude.  I'm over the crappy weather.  I'm over the constant defensive posture I have to take to get many things done, from my residency permit to getting a full night's sleep on Saturdays at 3 AM.  To me, it will be nice to live in a place where people face a different reality, a different daily grind.  Where they aren't so hung up on the name dropping, the way you dress, the school you went to, or the way you pronounce a word.

I'm ready for 2013.  Normally, I am rather indifferent to the beginning of a new year.  I don't celebrate it in a big way, and I would almost rather sleep than stay up to watch the sunrise on 1 January.  But this year, I feel like we have so much to be thankful for and anticipate with excitement.  It'll be hard, but all the good things in life are.  At least I'll have a fantastic person by my side who will eat up Paris with me as we start to say our good-bye, welcome these life changes with a smile and laugh, and make the next year beautiful.

Happy Holidays folks, and may your 2013 be equally as exciting as mine.

17 August 2012

Food Porn Friday: Chez Casimir

There are so many incredible restaurants in Paris, that it is often hard to keep up.  The new openings by amazing young talent definitely keeps you on your toes.  There are many restaurants that don't take reservations or aren't open on weekends, making it that much harder.  Let's not even get into the potential stress on your wallet (and your waistline...)

That's why a Parisian gal needs a couple aces in her pocket.  Reliable, cozy restaurants where the food is always great and the price is just right.

Chez Casimir is definitely one of those restaurants for me.  On an unassuming street near the Gare du Nord, it has become a reputable restaurant among foodie circles, but lacks the pretention that many popular restaurants come to have.  Friendly staff.  Great variety.  Simple but flavorful dishes.  Words can't even describe their mind-boggling cheese plate.  Their four-course menu is under 40 euros.

Fresh melon with salad greens and lard (thick bacon)

Tartare de boeuf
Gâteau aux fraises
Chez Casimir is like the Utopia of Parisian restaurants.  You can have an affordable, awesome meal and the servers make you want to leave them a tip.  This restaurant is one of the few that I'll go across town for a meal.  And for a girl who works late hours, and hates Parisian transport, that means it's pretty damn good.

06 August 2012

Eternal Honeymoon: Athens and Santorini

On the gorgeous summer day we got married, Fab's cousin wished us a life that was an eternal honeymoon.  And since that day, we've tried to make our life like that.  We travel when we can, exploring new sights, tastes, and wonders.  It was fitting, then, that our first anniversary be spent somewhere else in this amazing world other than our tiny Parisian apartment.  We escaped the incredibly cold, grey Parisian summer and headed to Greece.

17 July 2012

First Cooking Post: Lavender + Spice Roasted Peaches

Ok y'all.  I'm back from a long hiatus.  Traveling, work, and various other distractions have kept me away from writing and enjoying Paris.  Plus, can we talk about the fact that we have yet to really have a summer in France?  Mid-July, and I'm still wearing a jacket and sweaters while running around this city.  Depressing.

Which is what inspired me to make this:

I bought loads of summer fruit to not only boost my complexion, but to boost my spirits.  Nothing says summer more than peaches and strawberries to me, so I stocked our fridge.  Somewhere in Europe they are having summer, because despite the dreary weather, all the fruits have been delicious.

I might have gotten a little too carried away, because I bought a full bag of peaches.  And they got ripe super quick.  Crap.  If anything could be more heartbreaking than wearing a sweater in July, it would be wasting such beautiful peaches.  So I roasted those suckers in the oven, with some brown sugar, lavender, spices and then put some vanilla ice cream on it.  Damn was it good.  When the juices combined with the ice cream, it was just heavenly.

I'm not sure if the best part was the taste or the fact that it literally took less than 10 minutes to throw it all together and fling in the oven while I ate dinner with the hubby.  Both probably.

Lavender + Spice Roasted Peaches
serves 4 people
Prep Time: <10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

6 barely ripe peaches, halved and pits removed
1/4 cup (55 g) light brown sugar, not packed
1 teaspoon all-spice 
2 pinches of lavender buds (I got mine at Whole Foods)

Preheat your oven to 185 degrees C (365 degrees F).  In a clear glass baking dish, arrange your halved peaches.  Sprinkle brown sugar, spices and lavender buds on the peaches.  Slide in the oven and bake 30 minutes or until peaches are soft and skin is starting to wrinkle.  Serve warm, making sure to spoon the juices on the bottom of the pan onto the peaches, and with vanilla ice cream.