Monday, May 24, 2010


How is it May 24th? No really, how did it go from being August 30th to May 24th in such a short time?! My time here has gone by so quickly. This year was supposed to help me figure out what I want to do with my life...oops! No i have a little but of an idea, but not really. (NYT dining and or travel section, call me.)

So, Ireland! I'd been wanting to go to Ireland since I was 9 and started Irish dance. It was my dream to dance there in a feis but oh well! While I liked Dublin, I enjoyed the country more. Galway is a "city" but it's extremely small and the whole place is walkable. It's on the Atlantic ocean and absolutely gorgeous. We were lucky and had some good weather which made it even better. Also, we heard Gaelic being spoken! So cool. I wish that it was the only language in Ireland, damn you England. Surprisingly, the food in Ireland was great! And cheap! We went on a day trip to Connemara which was stunning. We were there when the yellow flowers (that smell like coconut) were in bloom which made everything seem alive and spring like. We saw potato crops that failed during the famine and the only fjord in Ireland. I'm already thinking about where I want to go to the next time I go to Ireland-Belfast, Cork, and Kilkenny. There is so much history to that country that I just want to experience it all! It's probably because I'm of Irish decent, but being able to finally go there, see the places I've read about in history books and experience the culture firsthand was really rewarding.

It's HOT in Paris! Finally, sunshine has arrived and appears as if it will stay. I went to the Lucien Freud exhibit today. I got there ten minutes after the museum open, but it was already packed! Still glad I went, I love the way he paints skin. Sounds weird, but it's the truth. An old woman cut me in line at the museum...this has been happening to me a lot lately.

Then I went to the "nature in the city" semi-festival that is going on. Cool idea, but sort of silly in reality. Lets shut down the Champs Élysées for two days and put lots of crops and farm animals in it, that will show how much we value our food! It just seems like transporting everything (I'm not sure what happens to it after the festival) is probably not very eco friendly. There were little signs explaining what crops were, but they were very small and therefore hard to read. In my view, France seems to appreciate food and where it comes from much more than Americans. I'm not sure the festival was necessary.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Food Fail

I just went out to L'Agrume, a restaurant that was recently written up in The New York Times, also known as my bible. It was written up as one of the best restaurants in Paris for a prix fixe under 45 euros. After reading the review I could hardly wait to go and was so excited when my friend got a reservation.

I have been eating poverty pasta the last few days in preparation for my glorious meal. I even had a small lunch today so I would be hungry for dinner. Oh, the letdown.

The restaurant is small and mostly gray. The decor is not very welcoming and feels extremely outdated considering the place opened in December.

We got the 35 euro prix fixe menu that came with five courses. The first course was raw dorado with shavings of crab and a touch of sweet grapefruit. "Eh," was about all I had to say. It was extremely bland and did not make the rest of the meal seem promising. Still, I held out hope.

The second course was the potatoes with a foie gras foam that the NYT writer specifically mentioned. I liked the lightness of the foam which made the foie gras more delicate, but still nothing to write home (or in the NYT) about.

Then, more white fish. I will admit, the leeks that accompanied it were savory and delicious with the light sauce, but I did not pay 35 euros for good leaks. The fish might have been the driest fish I've ever had. I'm sorry, but that is just unacceptable!

The 4th course was a small game bird resembling quail. While the skin had a little crunch and was nicely complemented by the raisins and somewhat fruity sauce, it didn't seem to go with the rest of the meal. Until then, the dishes were light and springy, the bird was more reminiscent of a winter dish.

Finally, dessert. Compared to the other dishes, the dessert portions were huge. The milk chocolate ganache ball rolled in cocoa powder deemed "classic" by the NYT was boring to me. The bitter cocoa powder overwhelming the chocolate, which was too light of a chocolate anyway. While the panna cotta was probably the best part, the raspberry gel on top bordered on tasting artificial rather than homemade.

I realize I sound like a huge food snob, but as a student in Paris who is trying to be frugal I was really excited for a nice meal out. I trust the NYT and was extremely let down by their pick. I've had much better food for 35 euros. There were no bold flavors and many of the dishes lacked basic salt and pepper.

Sigh! I wanted to write a comment on the article, but this is clearly too long. I just had to get out my frustration.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


A friend of my teacher's came to speak in my gender and politics class this week. She works for the UN in one of their many departments aimed at helping women. Anyway, at the end of her talk she said "if anyone is interested in becoming an intern at the UN let me know." A girl raised her hand and asked about the requirements, etc. "Well, you have to at least have a master's degree," said the speaker. She proceeded to tell us how she interned at the UN after getting her master's at SciencesPo and many of her fellow interns had PhDs. I'm sorry, but is a master's really necessary to be an intern? I'm all for education, but how are you expected to get any real working experience if you need a master's to be an intern?

I guess I'm just bothered by summer job hunting. So many things are unpaid and many interesting internships want you to be in graduate school. I've gained so much out of my internships, in many cases more than in classes. I think it's unfair to say you need a certain amount of education so you can intern (without pay, mind you) in a field you're truly interested in. Of course, you should have some general interest or knowledge in the subject, but let's not go overboard. Also, let's start paying interns, shall we? I know the economy sucks, but as a recent NYT article noted, a lot of interns to work that used to be that of an entry level employee. Companies are just realizing they can get people to do it for free because it looks good on their resume. At least pay interns with experience? Or those who have degrees?

Other than thinking about how awful the job market is, I've been studying a lot. I have a paper on Pakistan and U.S. relations, a paper on some film tbd, a commentaire on something also tbd due within a week. I had a "galop" this weekend. It was basically a midterm. The prompt I chose was "to be a nationalist in Europe between 1848-1939." Riveting stuff, my friends. I think my paper resembled that of what a 12 year old French kid would have written. Oh well!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Odd things I've seen in the last couple of days:

1. Police on roller blades. I don't get it. I have no faith that you can help someone while wearing roller blades. Also, are we still in the 90s?

2. A man clipping his nails into a dumpster outside of my building...

3. Prostitutes! I was running today by St. Denis and happened to turn down a little street that was filled with prostitutes. By the way, this was around 3pm. Young, old, black, white, take your pick! I felt very out of place.

Friday, March 26, 2010

To Africa we go!

To procrastinate doing my homework I'm going to write about Africa. This is semi-productive, right?

Maria, Dave, and I went to Morocco for the 2nd part of our spring break. Okay, first of all I've been wanting to go there forever. I was so excited and it was wonderful trip. I am now obsessed with planning future trips in my head to Egypt, South Africa, and part of west Africa to be determined.

We flew into Casablanca at night and took a cab to our adorable hostel (more like a hotel.) The driver tried to cheat us. Mind you, it was only $3 more than he said, but a deal is a deal. I got all up in his face, yelled at him, he got out of the car, complained to the hotel, yelled at me in Arabic, but then left. I WON THE BATTLE. Proud moment.

The next day we went to the Hassan II mosque. Wow, I don't know if I can give it justice. It was so moving to be there. Reminded me why people are religious. We admired all the architecture, took a billion pictures and then went inside for a tour. It was amazing to get a tour, especially because it's one of the few mosques that allows foreigners inside. The inside is ridiculously beautiful. Unfortunately, my pictures didn't do it justice. So much marble. It felt very regal.

After the mosque we went to the colonial section of town which reminded me of the Dominican Republic a little. We went into an abandoned Catholic church that was mentioned in our guide book. All the mosques we saw were very well kept, clean, etc. This church on the other hand...weeds, graffiti, dirty. We went inside and there were no pews, no real alter. I asked the guard "is this church used, is there a priest?" He actually laughed at me. Interesting comparison to all the mosques.

We wandered around the souks before taking the train to Marrakesh where we sat in car with two cute Moroccan couples that offered us an orange. By the way, the three hour train ride cost less than $20!!! We lived like kings in Morocco. Everything was so cheap.

Our raid in Marrakesh was adorable. They put rose petals on our bed! It was in the Medina, very close to the souks. We did a lot in Marrakesh, but I'll try to summarize. We wandered around the beautiful gardens of the Koutobia mosque, spent many hours bargaining in the souks, visited the old palaces, and visited the newer and swankier part of town, ville nouvelle. We also walked through Djemaa al fna square many times. It's filled with juice stands, nut and dried fruit vendors, story tellers, cheap food, and snake charmers. Alright, I loved the square, but I also panicked every time we were there because of the snakes. What happened to be when I was little to make me so afraid of snakes? I almost cried.

In addition, we went to la mamounia, the fanciest hotel in town...they almost didn't let us in because we weren't "chic" enough. It was so beautiful and lavish. Our drinks there were more expensive than most of our dinners!

On our last day we took a day trip to the Ourika valley. It looked like Colorado and Switzerland. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was breathtakingly beautiful. We saw a Berber house (complete with a cow,) rode camels, and hiked to a waterfall. The hike to the waterfall was probably my favorite part (camels were a little out of place without a desert.) It was a hard hike, not gonna lie. On the way up were little restaurants and souvenir shops. It kept getting steeper, but they were still there. Even at the waterfall there was a restaurant! How they get food up there, I don't know. It was a beautiful hike, as Maria said "it looks like the bible up here." The best part of the hike was when we were halfway there, getting tired, and a little store was blasting "desert rose" by sting. It was so fitting.Everything was in bloom and the air was so fresh, I felt very in tune with nature, ha.

I can't wait to go back to North Africa. It was all so foreign and new, makes me remember why I love to travel so much. Oh, by the way everyone was so nice to us. There are very few street signs in morocco, but everyone we asked for directions was incredibly helpful, some even taking us to our destination. We discovered that the old men in djellabas (traditional hooded robe. Looks a little like a KKK robe, just a little) had the best directions.

Even though many of the sellers in the souks are pushy, once you talk to them they are very nice. When it comes down to it their just trying to make a living. Still, I like to think I got very good at bargaining there.

It really bothered me when I saw westerners dressed inappropriately. It wasn't even that warm out, but many women were wearing shorts and tank tops. I'm sorry, did you forget that Morocco is a Muslim country?! Just be respectful and wear sweater, Jesus (or should I say Mohammad.) Especially around a mosque!

It was a fantastic trip, I was very sad to leave, but hopefully I will be back!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Real World: AIX

I don't think it gets any better than a house full of friends in the south of France. We were such a cute little family. We decided that our stay would be like the real world aka "when people stop being nice and start getting real." We even had a confessional room. Some highlights:

1. Cooking. I love cooking and eating with friends. There is something very satisfying about it. We ate very well, but underestimated how much food to buy, so at times had very little food in the house. Each man for his own with no food for miles creates an interesting group dynamic.

2. Watching Spartacus and taken. Spartacus, wow, you are long. Hilarious (maybe because of the wine?) but long. I have to say the ending was a let down. Also a let down when I looked it up on wikipedia and realized most of it was fake. I saw parts of taken 3 times over that weekend. Somehow, it has become a big part of my life and I bring up Liam Neeson a lot.

3. Feeding donkey's! Everyone was surprised at how "country" I was.

4. Strolling through Aix and Lourmarin. It was quiet and laid back. A nice escape from Paris. Lourmarin is a quintessential little french village. With a castle next door, bah oui!

5. Watching the gold medal hockey game. It was a tough night for team USA, but it was so fun. There were two Canadians, two Americans, a Norwegian, and a Nicaraguan. Things got heated. I have to paint the Canadian flag on my face and go to a bar as punishment for USA losing. We'll get them next time. Watching it in French was so funny. I think the correspondents France sent over were drunk the whole time. They kept showing clips of them singing songs and playing in snow.

The whole weekend was wonderful and I am so thankful for Martin for inviting me into his beautiful house!



It has been such a nice weekend! Sunny and warm, just the way I like it. Springtime in Paris! I went running in the tuleries gardens to start off my day which was delightful. And by delightful I mean the scenery, my running was sub par. I had a little "I love Chicago" moment where I ran past the U.S. embassy while listening to go go gadget flow (I'm from a city in the Midwest, best city in the whole wide wide world.) It was cute to me, probably cheesy to whoever reads this other than Chicagoans.

Pierre Herme was giving out free macarons yesterday. I had been wanting to try them for ages, of course I decided to try them on Thursday. If i had waited two more days they would have been free! Oh well. The flavors are more interesting than ladure, but I like the consistency of la duree more.

Then I went on a lovely date with my girls. Strolling by the canals, vintage shopping, browsing through art books, and sangria. It was a perfect afternoon. I want to live by the canals. I kept saying "I want to raise my kids here" which my friends found odd, but hey it's the truth. I think part of the reason I like it is the water. I never realized I like to be by water until I went to D.C. One of my absolute favorite things to do is to drive down lake shore drive in the summer (naturally to go pick up hpk people who don't drive. You know who you are.) The lake is so beautiful and huge. It makes it seem like the world never ends. Anyway, I liked being by the water. I also enjoyed all the cool shops and how friendly the neighborhood was. I just felt at ease. Over Sangria, we decided that once we're all jobless next year we're going to come back and open a 24 hour coffee shop in Paris for students. I am actually considering doing this.

I got in a fight with a cabbie at 4 am. Trying to cheat me. Unfortunately I lost the battle. Funny how I can win a fight with a cabbie in Morocco, but lose in France.

Will I wake up to a passed health care bill?! I think so!