France, Lifestyle, Sabbatical, Travel

Walking in the Rain

Today, it has been raining practically non-stop in the small city of Carcassonne. There’s been a bite to the air that tells me to put some socks on and make soup for dinner. That’s exactly what I did today.

The apartment is small but not small for Europe. It’s just the right size for my family of four. It’s wonderful to cook and play in–everything is within a short reach. The kids can play while I make dinner and not wonder if they’re getting into something they shouldn’t. This morning I ran some errands in the rain and was not disappointed by it. Though I returned cold with wet feet, I was pleased and even a bit proud that I managed to finish four errands within an hour and not be grumpy from the weather.

It’s interesting, really. In Ohio, everyone always talks about the weather when it’s bad. Complaints echo through the office lounge, cash registers, and basically anywhere people make small talk. The funny thing is that it shouldn’t matter as much to people who barely have to be outside. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some sunny and mild days, but isn’t it ironic that when someone’s day isn’t entirely dependant on the weather, it’s such a strong indicator of how they’re “feeling” that day? What’s even more ironic is that I’d catch myself complaining a lot more in Ohio than I do here, where I have no choice but to walk in less-than-ideal weather if I want to go outside. I say that now, let’s see how I feel after a few days of the rain.

Don’t let this post fool you, today is the first day where the weather has been cold and rainy. Up until now, I’ve been blown away by the beautiful, breezy days that have led us outside on multiple occasions each day. It was a nice pleasantry from the city to us. I’ll take it as a warm welcome from Carcassonne.

The fruitier (produce shop) and wine shop are adjacent to each other just a block away from our apartment. A butcher is only a block further. The boulangerie is the farthest but it’s about five minutes away if that tells you anything. Walking around by myself today to run errands, I noticed that there’s a chinese restaurant and even a tattoo shop just a few blocks away. I have no plans to get a tattoo, but it’s nice to know that I can! My point is that I didn’t anticipate having so many points of interest within such close proximity.

Right outside our corner windows lies a manicured park with a splash pad at the end. Jackpot. There’s also a carousel, jackpot again. I’ve cherished the ability to leave the apartment and be on our way with such ease. While getting out of the apartment is more difficult (we do have a couple flights of narrow and uneven steps to climb, as well as an INCREDIBLY narrow front door that Jerry himself wouldn’t be able to go through after his subway diet, along with a few more steps and the heavy gate to pull open), it’s still easier for me to leave the home then back in the states. That goes back to the availability and close proximity to everything around us. We avoid minutes even an hour of driving to get to most of the places we need to go. We walk everywhere, which I love. I’ve noticed that I’ve had a larger appetite in France. That could be because baguettes and croissants are inescapable, but I also think it’s because I’m more active here. It’s the best of both worlds–leisurely activity and more food!

I walked into the butcher this morning with confidence radiating. “ I can do this! I’m a chef, how difficult can it be to order bone-in, skin-on chicken?!” Immediately, I exchanged an upbeat “bonjour!” and no sooner than another raindrop falling from my folded umbrella, I was rushed to set it down at the door. It only took two butchers and four hand gestures for me to realize what they were telling me. Not letting such an embarrassing moment stifle my curiosity for the meat counter, I ignored their kind yet fixed eyes and made my way around the counter. All the meats were smashed together, truly smashed. Rabbit (lapin) gutted and layed out almost on top of the chicken (poulet), and the chicken to the turkey(dinde). I initially pointed to the cuisse de poulet but it was far too small once the butcher pulled it out to weigh it. So I immediately pointed to what was right below it, what looked to me as the breast of the chicken. It was nestled right below the thighs, so I figured that’ll do! Merci beaucoup! as I grabbed my troublesome umbrella and darted home. The minute I unwrapped the paper, I knew something wasn’t right. This meat looked quite different from the folded square-shape I requested. I immediately looked at the receipt and read cuisse de dinde. Nothing like Google Translate to clear a few things up. Welp, we’re having turkey soup tonight! I exclaimed. In all honesty, it could’ve been worse. I could’ve accidentally brought home some other animal, like a rabbit, which would have been terrifying. I decided to braise the turkey thigh, a technique of cooking something in a lot of liquid, at a lower temperature for double the amount of time. Braising makes the meat more tender. The soup ended up tasting just like chicken (not that surprising), and there were empty bowls all around after dinner.

If you’d like the recipe for the soup, here’s a throwback to freshman year in college when I first started the blog. My, how things have changed.

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