Well, I’m back. I’m exhausted, jetlagged; but I also still have a belly full of baguette, and I can finally call myself half-cultured.
If only I had the forethought to get the apartment all sparkly clean before I left, I wouldn’t have returned to formidable mountains of clothing. Then again, it feels nice to know that the backs of chairs, my chairs, are waiting to be covered in sweaters and towels, just because they can be: while living out of a suitcase was exhilarating, it certainly is no match for coming home (especially when that home has a kitchen).
I think that’s the thing I was missing while I was away: my kitchen, any kitchen. Other people miss the convenience of laundry machines while traveling, but I miss pots, pans, and an accessible stove. (Perhaps I’m not the perfect mascot for feminism?) Every farmer’s market we strolled through in old towns, along coastlines, and positioned quaintly next to age-old cathedrals, I longed to be able to take something home, a few eggplants and tomatoes, say, and try my hand at Nicoise Ratatouille. It was sad indeed, but I got over it. I quickly gave in to being spoiled by the regional food that others had prepared and the local wines they had produced.
And spoiled, I was. What is a girl to do when there happens to be the best crepe stand smack on the way home from a fancy, four course dinner? In all seriousness, she is to get one, slathered (in the best way) with Nutella and copious slices of banana, and enjoy. And then, if she really needs to justify, tell herself that she might only be in Paris this one time, that it would be a travesty to not try the local food, and that the full feeling she has (the one that makes her wish she wore looser clothes) is really just the feeling of Parisian tradition, taking over her body. That by doing this, she might even become French.
Unfortunately, I didn’t become French. (Come to think of it, I was probably closer to becoming an actual crepe.) Over two weeks and a day, I traveled wide-eyed around France, and even popped into Spain for a day or two at the tail end. And I came to realize and wholeheartedly appreciate the way they treat food. The way they respect it. Eating is considered a time of relaxation, of enjoyment, a slowed down version of even the slowest American meal. You’re not even allowed to get coffee to go: when we tried, we were handed espressos with makeshift tops, complete with straws stuck in the top. Hilarious, but also eye-opening. In a country where your coffee is to be enjoyed while sitting and your meals are to be taken seriously, I tried to absorb as much as I could in hopes of taking a little of that home with me. A little, but not the coffee bit. I’m sorry, I like my coffee made with water, and at times, I like it to go. Sorry, France.