25 March 2010

i prefer lies

lie01when it comes to weather, i prefer lies. because this is depressing.

lie02the bbc is even more blunt.

see you monday! let’s hope i don’t become trempée this weekend.

istpreviewps: i’ve been hard at work on istanbul… just slowly plowing along.

pps: have a great weekend! I hope it’s rain free and sunny and beautiful, like spring should be.


simplelunch01spring means warm weather. which means a bike. which means a backpack. which means… perhaps pastries have a chance of surviving. shall we continue?

simplelunch02minimal damage. but regardless of whether or not there was damage, the taste will always be good.

simplelunch03you might wonder how i eat. with a mini kitchen with bizarre hours, that is on a different floor, that is just a pain that turns me off from cooking.

but. i have access to good bread.

as well as frozen vegetables that just need a quick zap in the microwave. and some mediocre salmon or deli meat. actually, i have access to really good sliced ham for sandwiches but i choose to spend my money on other good stuff to make up for my not so good meat…

simplelunch04like good cheese. in this specific photo, le galletout, a goat cheese from cazillac in the south. i have to eat it quickly because i can’t handle the smell in my room each time i open the fridge.

simplelunch05and also i’m very lucky to have access to…

simplelunch06good butter. really really really good butter.

holy moly. honestly, when your basics (bread, butter, and cheese) taste amazing, life without a kitchen isn’t too bad.

actually, no, it’s still awful. but having access to all this stuff keeps me sane.

so yeah. that’s what i eat. a lot. every few days i change it up with either a new cheese, a new type of bread, and occasionally a visit to a pastry shop for something sweet. or salad instead of frozen veggies. and i’m nowhere near sick of this deliciousness!

24 March 2010


i don’t know where all my time goes.

actually, i lied. i know exactly why i don’t have time. but i have an urge to write write now, at this exact moment, even if it’s not about istanbul and my photos aren’t ready. so here are the reasons why time escapes me…

istanbul151. adding bars of color. looking through my istanbul photos, i’m so inspired by the colors. so i’ve started adding color tabs to certain photos that i feel has a strong connection with a certain color. here’s just one example… the reds of istanbul. from the flag to the pastries to the architecture, i just love how color ties them together. *plus when i was younger and even now, the only redeeming aspect of home depot and lowes was their paint chip collection. but making these bars takes extra time. but i’m in love with it so it’s completely worth it.

2. 7am bakery days. i’ll have more to say… and hopefully something to show later on! i don’t want to bring out my camera and scare them away :) but it’s easter season, so there are lots of pastels, eggs, and rabbits around!

3. volunteering for l’afev. i haven’t mentioned this yet, but it is a big timesucker. i’m learning so much about myself by volunteering – a lot of things i don’t like, but are just a part of my personality and i don’t think i can change.

4. travel. a trip to amiens. etretat. paris three weeks in a row. fecamp. i do a lot of absorbing and seeing but i don’t save a lot of time for reflecting. for example, i’m nowhere done collecting my thoughts about istanbul, and already i’m leaving this week for… belgium… and next week… germany… and then the week after that… slovenia… and then… portugal…and then… texas. 

5. work. this one has stayed constant. love my school. love my students. it’s not a real time sucker, but combined with the other things on my list, my day disappears quickly!

6. people. i just like talking and hanging out. so easy to get sucked into a conversation or activity, and next thing you know, it’s midnight. but all so worth it.

18 March 2010

three blues

turk01 this is what i left…

turk02this is what i sat under at the airport in paris…

turk03and this is what i arrived to.

a story will be here. soon.

chez s

chezsara07chez is such a great word. language wise, it does not work the same way home does. but meaning wise, it’s exactly the same thing. when you’re invited chez someone, someone is opening up their home and their life for you.

not having seen my own home since september, it means a lot to me when someone is kind enough to invite me.

chezsara04seeing things like laundry clips make me happy because that’s really the only place you can see them: in someone’s home.

chezsara08and a dog! a french dog who understands “assis!” and “reste!” but not “sit” and “stay”!

chezsara01a simple meal. a loaf of homemade bread. yes, even with all the bakeries here, people still bake their own bread! it’s only human nature :)

chezsara02i always though those apple peeling machines were a waste of space. i still think they can never compare to a simple peeler, but, i will admit that they are tons of fun and give you beautiful even slices.

chezsara03the french <3 their yogurt. and their applesauce. and their puddings. and their mousses. and their creams. and i <3 for it. when i return back to the states, i want to make sure my fridge is stocked this well.

chezsara05 making cookies. and making a smily face too.

chezsara11a collection of objects from who knows where.

chezsara06i also adore how seriously they take their breads.

chezsara09my favorite photo. my friend’s room. the wood is very typical of french houses. the print is from a trip to egypt. the moroccan teapot is made by her grandfather. and who knows about the owl. but i just love it when i see different cultures interacting so perfectly.

chezsara10her adoration, her passion – music.

chezsara12can you guess another thing she loves very much?

chezsara13so elegant. so beautiful. so graceful. so white. so MEAN. swans are vicious animals…! especially when you have stale baguettes to feed them. i’m not sure why fairy tales gave them such wonderful reputations, because they are definitely not friendly!

chezsara14i’m incredibly thankful each time someone invites me into their home. home is just something i take for granted back in the states, because it’s always been there and will always be there. but in europe, i am very grateful to have lovely friends who let me have a home away from home :)

such a great way to rest in between two trips. three short days here, and then, off to paris… and then to charles de gaulle… and then… istanbul!

12 March 2010


night01not that it was ever a serious dream – but i don’t believe being a professional patissier or boulanger would ever work out for me.

solely because i don’t sleep before midnight.

like right now. it’s midnight and i have to be up at 6:30AM tomorrow, but instead i’m sitting here organizing photos and writing and collecting my thoughts…

night02but oh no, i’m not waking up early tomorrow morning to work in the bakery. i’m very lucky in that they’re allowing me to come in when I want. so far its been monday, tuesday, and friday mornings. i like my weekends, they rest on wednesdays, and i work at my school thursday mornings.

instead, just randomly decided a few hours ago with my friend E, i’m going to take a day trip to amiens tomorrow.

but back to the bakery bit.

nightwalkthere isn’t really anything super exciting to share (yet), except that – as much as i’ve learned from books, blogs, and videos, having someone stop me and say “ça va pas” and then showing me the correct way to glaze a strawberry tartelette or the correct angle that one holds the spatula for forcing the cream into all the crevices in a fraisier or the correct way to assemble a meringue truffle… it’s something entirely different. there are just too many subtle movements humans make that words or photos can’t convey.

so as usual, it’s the human interaction that inspires me. talking to the patron (owner). his femme (wife – she runs the actual shop). the chef (head of pastries). the apprentie (who is in alternance and works and goes to school as well). the vendeuses (the lovely ladies who sell the bread). the delivery people. the guy who works in the bread department who starts at midnight. the other guy who works in the bread department who lives in the countryside with his wife and kids. and lots more that i haven’t gotten a chance to talk to… after all, there’s a ton of work to be done, and i don’t want to bother them with my chatter!

learning all these techniques is great, but getting to know the people who work there and make the bakery happen is a hundred times better.

i just have to work on this sleeping thing…

goodbye ghent

ghent45tick-tock! time is running out. it’s your last full day in ghent. a monday. N has a meeting in brussels, so you’ve got the day alone to explore and absorb.

ghent46you do your normal thing of walking. no map. just wandering around.

ghent47you make some obligatory stops in some cathedrals…

ghent48peeling paint. keyholes. colors on a door. paper cats in a window. small things that occupy a big spot of your heart.

ghent49 you stop in a coffee shop and have lunch. which was a panini with pears and honey. and some soup. you love how soup just makes everything better when it’s zero degrees celsius outside.

ghent50yet another door, some leaves, and some insanely expensive but beautiful lace.

ghent51meet advokaat. normally it’s a creamy and strong liqueur made from eggs, sugar, and brandy. but in this case, it’s the spreadable version that goes on bread after dinner for dessert. and strong it is!

ghent52time to head back. you realize you skipped a lot of touristy “must dos”… but you know you’ll be back another day, plus you were loving the city too much to be locked up indoors in some place of historical importance. next time, you tell yourself, you’ll go visit that castle and go see that important painting… next time.

ghent53ahem! degustation time. on the left we have a rijstulaaj or a rice tart. the filling is made with boiled rice, sugar, and eggs. apparently it’s famous because a 16th century Flemish painter, Pieter Breughel, depicted lots of these little guys in his paintings. it also used to be eaten by belgian cyclists as a power snack during races.

and on the right we have a brownie with slivered almonds. not much difference here, or explanation necessary.

ghent54now here is some roggerverdommeke or rye bread with currants. whew! this was the sweet loaf of poor people back in the day because rye flour and currants were cheaper than white wheat flour and raisins.

ghent55you’re sorry you wanted to try this. you thought that since fries came from belgium, that they’d be good… but no. terrible. but you aren’t giving up hope. you know good fries exist somewhere in belgium. you just aren’t sure where. but at least you know what to avoid!

ghent56 chocolate from brussels! nibbles of joy.

off to bed…

ghent57the last breakfast.

ghent58small details make you happy. like this little bit of orange peeking out of an vintage blue peacoat. you hop on your bus back to france and wave goodbye to your favorite canadian.

ghent59and you are stopped at border control for two hours. some lady has three suitcases filled with medical creams. ooo, interesting! and here, your phone can’t make up it’s mind. is it with B mobistar in belgium, or with Orange F in france? you’re happy to be in a liminal space with a cell phone to prove it.

ghent60back to paris, where it snowed…!

after paris, back to evreux.

and off to three days to the normandy countryside!

11 March 2010

soup and salad

ghent29straight from the museum, you quickly walk down the street into this restaurant. it has a simple concept that works. soup + bread + apple. a perfect combination. sometimes, too many choices is a bad thing.

ghent30then you just wander around ghent for a few hours, trying to see as much as you can before it gets too dark.

ghent31night falls and you begin the walk back, hoping you remember the way back home correctly.

ghent32you wish you lived on a boat on a river. (not the exact boats pictured here.) a boat house! which doesn’t really exist in dallas. so you wonder if mobile homes exist as well in europe…?

ghent33it’s cold. it’s raining. and your lens has rain droplets on it. but you love it because it adds a spider web effect to all the lights.

ghent34you also love ghent for the sheer about of bicycles that are being used. it reminds you of austin and you become happy thinking about that lovely capital…

ghent35then you arrive back at your friend’s place! the loft of a lovely… house. apartment. you aren’t sure what exactly it is, because this type of housing doesn’t really exist in american culture, but it’s still a very lovely place.

ghent36and you snack on some chocolate bread… with perhaps some of that hazelnut spread or some homemade caramel…!

ghent37now, the real show begins. your favorite part. watching someone cook. first up, N slices some bread into cubes and sautés them in some butter and oil to make some croutons. with some salt and pepper as well. so tasty. you pop a few in your mouth just to to make sure they’re good. and then you pick at the burnt ones because you just love burnt food.

ghent39she starts chopping the persil. you keep clicking away.

ghent38then she starts on the vinaigrette. some whole grain mustard and some normal mustard. later she adds garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and…. especially for you because you absolutely adore it… the beloved maple syrup. normally she doesn’t add it. but when you’re around, she makes sure to sneak it into everything.

ghent40then some capers from italy (she was just in venice). they are salted, so she rinses them off in some water. look at that difference! and the salad begins to take shape on the plate with the first layer of greens…

ghent41then she whips out some green onions and some red peppers. dices them quickly. and then sautés them.

ghent42everything is piled high! along with some slices of salmon. ooo, this salad just keeps getting better and better…!

ghent43and she adds your second favorite part (the first being maple syrup, of course): the poached egg. just like in quebec. but this time, in ghent and in winter.

after that it’s bon appétit!

ghent44on her kitchen wall: a postcard from venice. with a second bird taped to it… you can probably guess why, as well as who it’s from.

and and and and and and and and and and a photo of the strawberries that you bought and ate in quebec from the summer before!

which reminds you: just a few more months until strawberry season… ! ! !!


it’s your favorite fruit, so all those exclamation marks are justified.