Well it’s Halloween in France (and everywhere else too, I guess) and I’m eating pumpkin pie for breakfast. It feels like the day after Thanksgiving – wake up, ignore the cereal and head straight for the desserts.
I found out yesterday in class that Sciences Po had cancelled all classes for today. Tomorrow they’re cancelled because it’s Toussaint and a national (religious) holiday, but today I’m not sure. I think there was something political going on, but I didn’t pay that great of attention.
So it’s Halloween and there are no classes officially until Thursday (although I never have Thursday classes). The Association Sportive of Sciences Po is throwing a huge Halloween party at a club on Rivoli tonight, which I think is a combination of a shout-out to all the international students and just a really good excuse to have a party. The sports association kind of reminds me of ASUW, if the officers were allowed to spike every function.
Partly because of Halloween this week is feeling more and more like a shout-out to America. For one, Christina is on a week-long Toussaint vacation (no such thing for us Sciences Po students) from the University of Nantes, so she’s been chilling here since Friday. She left this morning for two nights in Brussels with another friend from UW (I thought I had classes to attend today and tomorrow) and the two of us are meeting in the Barcelona airport Thursday morning.
Saturday was Amelia’s 21st birthday – so anticlimatic in France where you can drink when you’re 16 and buy alcohol at 18 – officially. There are the same-old “don’t serve alcohol to minors” signs up in all the bars, but it’s not like anyone’s going to stop you here if you’re underage. You can drink your illegal alcohol strolling down the street if you want, and nobody’s going to say anything.
So Amelia’s official birthday was Saturday – the three of us decided to forget the fact that we all could have legally gone out on Friday too, and went for a Seattle-style 21 run. Well as “Seattle” as a 21-run can be that takes you through the Marais and around Place de la Bastille. We’ve all been craving good Mexican food basically since we’ve been here, so we combed a few guidebooks and found a restaurant that was actually recommended. It wasn’t bad, but nothing like what you could get in the States. It’s funny because I never thought I would miss food from the U.S. while living in France. It’s not like I miss the Red Robins and the Oreos, but I miss the (inexpensive!) diversity of food available. If you live here, you’d better damn well like steak and croissants.
Sunday the three of us spent the day wandering Paris, eventually ending at the top of the Arc de Triomphe to look at the lights of the city. It was really beautiful, and so funny yet perfect to be seeing it with two of my best friends from Seattle (in the midst of the 15 groping couples). Most of the time I feel adjusted to the fact that I live in Paris, but it felt a little weird to be at the top of l’Arc de Triomphe saying, okay “See the statues on top of l’Opéra? Now look right, that’s where I live.” I feel like I shouldn’t be able to look for my home from the top of the Arc.
Afterward Christina and I found this store remarkably like a Sweet Factory (bad decision!) and made ourselves sick eating stale candy in the movie theatre where we’d gone to see “Last Kiss,” Zach Braff’s second movie. It wasn’t bad – the relationships seemed pretty authentic, but I think he needs more practice to hone his talents.
Yesterday I had class all day, but in my free hour I went to seek out “The Real McCoy,” the American import grocery store near the Eiffel Tower. The products featured included 8 euro boxes of Pop Tarts, 7.5 bags of Ghiradelli chocolate chips, 2.5 can of real Diet Coke (I’m pretty sure I’m going to cave and go back for one), 6 euro jars of Skippy Peanut Butter and 5 euro cans of pumpkin pie filling. After spending 9 euro on 15 oz. of pumpkin and 12 oz. of condensed milk, C, A and I were ready to recreate the U.S.A.
We only encountered a few problems – for one, you can’t buy U.S. style pie dough – they have dough for tartes, but it’s really light and kind of turns into a croissent when baked. There are no ground cloves available here, so we had to grind our own with my mortar and pestle – it worked okay, but eating clove chunks in your pie is not incredibly appetizing. I also don’t own a pie plate, but we made do with an oval casserole dish and the croissent-y crust. The combination of these factors made us a little apprehensive about the quality of our finished pie, but it turned out amazingly delicious.
Somehow the casserole dish and my tiny oven that sits on the counter worked together to create evenly-baked magic. The crust was not quite pie crust, but still delicious. It was the best pumpkin pie Paris could have given us. It’s actually probably better that we couldn’t create a completely American pumpkin pie in Paris – if it was too authentic it would have made us too homesick. Instead, we were quite thrilled with our pumpkin…casserole. So thrilled that I just finished off the last piece for my breakfast.
•• Still don’t have my appereil back. All photo credits go to Christina’s camera.