Let me tell you something, it is HOT in Tel Aviv right now. Not that I ever had any doubts that summers in Israel were anything less than scorching, but after a year in the climate-controlled comfort of suburban New Jersey, weeks of 90+ degree weather (Fahrenheit, or about 32C for the rest of the world) with more than 70% humidity can shock the system. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love the summer – days spent on the beach, cool drinks, warm nights, and everything that comes along with it –but it also means trying to find ways to beat the heat without 24/7 air conditioning. This mostly involves well-placed fans, icy cold drinks, and meals that taste good cold. Enter vichyssoise.Continue Reading…
My arrival in the heart of Provence was accompanied by ravenous hunger. Though the memory of my earlier socca lingered, vegan goodies proved to be scarce during the long journey to the farm. As luck would have it, there was a railroad strike in progress – of which I was thankfully informed by the front desk staff at the hostel in Nice – and with each leg of my journey, I found myself scrambling to find the information assistants, show them my tickets while explaining (tout en français, I might add), where I was going.
After two trains and a bus, I arrived in the small Provençal town of Tarascon, where the farmer waited for me with his truck. We drove through a picturesque countryside that was straight out of a Disney movie, before turning off of the fast-moving main road directly into the driveway of the farm. The house was a stone cottage, renovated on the inside, with an exceptionally large garage.
When I first went to Europe at age 17, just after my high school graduation, I brought along a print out list of words in several different languages regarding the food I did and didn’t eat. Being that I had studied French for three years, and that I was on the trip with my French teacher, I wasn’t worried about describing my dietary needs while I was in France (every other country was a different story, especially Italy).
That handy list has been lost to time, but for those of you who are worried about traveling and eating in France, I’ve put together a short list of phrases that might be helpful when dining out. Please let me know if any of you have any specific phrases you would like to know, and for those of you who are native French speakers, feel free to correct any grammar mistakes I may have missed.
A note on pronunciation: I tried my best to represent the phonetics of this in a way that’s accessible to everyone. If anyone would prefer me to add IPA, I will be more than happy to do so (because IPA is the best). Don’t worry too much about having perfect pronunciation, most people you encounter will appreciate your making an effort. Most importantly, enjoy your journeys!
As I glimpsed a sparkle from the brilliantly blue Mediterranean from the airplane window, my excitement began to bubble over. This was it! I was really going to France! While I hesitate to call myself a full-blown Francophile, given that my interests are mostly linguistic, I’ve always had a soft spot for “l’Hexagone”.
My decision to learn French was made nearly twenty years ago when I became friends with a girl in my kindergarten class whose family was Quebeçois. During playdates at her house, they never hesitated to speak French to one another, though they would always pardon themselves due to my monolingualism, and translated for me if necessary. Naturally, I decided that when I got older, I too would learn French, so I could share in the foreign language fun. If I’d only known how much easier it would have been to begin a second language at five than at fourteen, I would have insisted my parents find me French lessons immediately (and I would have had many more built in opportunities to practice, unlike with my music lessons).
As planned, however, I began studying French when I began high school, and I was fairly determined to become a proficient speaker, though this goal was still very much a dream by the time I graduated–even as a member of the French Honor Society. I continued my French studies in university, where my first French professor increased my proficiency by leaps and bounds, and inspired me to pursue French as my minor. All told, when I graduated, I had taken as many French classes, as I had linguistics classes, but I still felt uncomfortable with everyday speaking and understanding–hence the desire to spend an extended period of time in France.