When I first moved into my lovely and very typical Parisian apartment, my first worry wasn’t that there was no bed, or that there were no shower doors, or that the television seemed to be in black and white. My first worry was, “how on Earth are we going to make Thanksgiving dinner without an oven?” You see, upon hearing that I would be in Paris for the holidays, two of my dear friends eagerly agreed to come celebrate Thanksgiving in the City of Light. Facing dire adversity and several naysayers, we boldly stepped forth, determined to conquer a traditional American dinner in a country with no turkeys, a metric system, curious can openers, and oven-less apartments. Here, my friends, is the perfect oven-less Thanksgiving menu:
Mashed potatoes with salted butter and cream
Whipped sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar crumbles
Sautéed garlic green beans and broccoli florets
Roasted sweet corn with salted butter
Whole cranberry sauce
Stuffing with sliced green beans, onions, and carrots
Baguettes & French wine (our Parisian twist)
A combination no-bake pecan and pumpkin pie
November turkeys are nearly impossible to find in Paris, as they are all being saved for French Christmas dinners. So forgoing a main course, we had a Thanksgiving dinner of side dishes. My friends smuggled in cranberry sauce and and stuffing from the United States and made a quick visit to Thanksgiving, an expat store that carries a variety of American grocery store staples. We even managed to make a no-bake pecan pie and pumpkin pie. You simply can’t have Thanksgiving without pie. As it turns out, you can end Thanksgiving dinner just as stuffed and sleepy and happy in France as you can in the United States. A very belated happy Thanksgiving to all!
Yesterday was my first day in both my apartment and the office. Oh what a day it was! I awoke early to meet the landlady and real estate agent and the three of us squeezed into the elevator of my new building, keys in hand. As we strolled down the hallway, the two of them discussed logistics in French while I trailed behind, imagining myself sitting at an open window nibbling a croissant while a Parisian breeze gently rustles the curtains behind me. I missed the the trash room instructions in my daydreaming. But then the apartment door swung open to reveal a charming flat, with a large window perfect for croissant nibbling. Outside were layers of Parisian apartments, seemingly stacked and squeezed together, with balconies, chimneys, and window boxes added for effect. The bells of a nearby church began to chime as I looked out at the view – a sign that I was meant to be there!
Then it was on to the office! The most notable difference between a French and American office is not the people. It is not the language. It is not the fancy espresso machines. It is the keyboard. It just so happens that there are some subtle differences between the QWERTY and AZERTY keyboards. To illustrate, this happened:
I refused to admit to any of my new colleagues that I couldn’t figure out how to type a period, (you can see above that I hadn’t yet mastered this), so Google France and I spent a frustrating 45 minutes together researching this particular skill. I declare that by the end of my four months in Paris, I may not be a bilingual speaker, but I will be a bilingual typist! Take that, AZERTY.
The rest of the day went smoothly. I gave a presentation in which the French audience laughed when I attempted humor, successfully managed to lug both of my suitcases into my apartment (after nearly flattening the taxi driver who tried to lift my bags from his cab), and unpacked all of my things, which magically disappeared into the drawers, cabinets, and shelves of my new Parisian flat! Pictures to come!