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I've Learned How To Cook

Now I just need to find a man...

rain 9 °C

Last week was filled with more craziness. That seems to be the norm these days as things start to get a bit more hectic, time is running out and classes are starting to have real work to do (what..?). Since last Wednesday was actually an official holiday celebrating the end of WWII in France, we had no class (woot woot) and of course, Tuesday night was automatically deemed a party night by all the Erasmus kids.

So what do we do? Run over to a party hosted by this blond German kid with the theme, "Bad Taste." Yeah. I of course had to awkwardly voice my opinions about how having a theme party such as "Bad Taste" is a rather stupidly American thing to do... Just take a minute to reflect on the parties we have at Hendrix... White Trash Bash, Ghetto Night, EuroTrash, Tour de Franzia, I could keep going. Nonetheless the night was rather good, filled with ugly painted mustaches, tacky clothing, poor French grammar and dancing in a room perhaps too small for the sheer number of people that were present. Oddly enough, a lot of English music was played (apparently that's normal here in Europe...) where most of the anglophones were screaming their heads off, me included, but followed closely behind by the Germans and Italians.

Wednesday was rather strange, it being a holiday and all, with mass hoards of people going over to Euralille (this huge shopping complex downtown) to go look at shops since no one had anything better to do. For the first time, I saw security guards at the entrance, stopping random groups of thugs, hoodlums and just rather crude looking French guys in general. Let me rephrase that potentially offensive sentence: France, and other European countries I'm sure, seems to have a large number of young adult males who wear really ugly track bottoms usually representing Manchester United or some other English Premier League team, shouting things like wesh wesh whallah, fashioning really horrible greasy gelled hair and, not to mention, harassing young women.

To the point of the story, I met up with David to do our grocery shopping run for what was going to be an epic dinner to be cooked on Thursday for our Tandem partners. Honestly, I was kind of freaking out because I was about to make stuff that I had never made but once before, that too for myself. We indulged ourselves into buying way-to-expensive naan as well as convincing David that because I don't have a freezer nor an oven, it was necessary to buy a raspberry pie and vanilla ice cream to top. Best purchase ever? Quite possibly.

After doing our grocery run, my Aussie neighbours and I did another quick grocery run (a lot of things in France seem to revolve around food. Maybe that's why I'm getting fat) to go buy ingredients to make moules frites!!! This dish is pretty popular here in the north and in Belgium, but especially during the Braderie (this giant flea market in the first week of September that I probably failed to mention in this blog but basically, it's incredible) which was the last time I had it. So we decided to tell the restos to go screw themselves and their expensive prices and make our own. Bought a kilo of moules for 2 euros (that's a steal!), cleaned them up and let Amy work her magic.

Annie and Amy, cleaning up moules.

Amy chefin' it up.

Moules, curry style in a Moules bowl.


The next day was the epic one: cooking Indian food for someone other than myself. And other than my parents. Without my mother's help. The ultimate cooking test. Being in France has forced me to learn how to cook. I'll buy a couple of ingredients. And use them up until they're all gone, using all the same ingredients, but just changing the way I cook them or prepare them. I guess it means I have to be much more creative with what I do, seeing as I can't be buggered to eat the same stuff over and over again. So not only have I learned how to sort of cook, I've realized a certain joy in cooking. Which was only fueled by Thursday.

David and I did the last bit of running around trying to find minced lamb for the main dish, only to find out that not only did the butcher not have a meat grinder (seriously?!!? What kind of butcher are you?!?!?!) but that Soraya, David's tandem partner, is a vegetarian. Well then. Did not receive that bit of information...

Some stressing out and some quick thinking later, I turned to aubergines (eggplant). Couldn't get a hold of my mother for the recipe so instead turned to the good ol' internet to find something that seemed remotely similar. Found out later that Soraya and Perrine aren't huge fans of aubergines and of course, how could I forget that Perrine only likes to eat pasta and cookies, so instead told them that they would keep quiet and eat what I made. Got to cooking, with David being an awesome co-chef and about 2.5 hours later, with the giggling French girls waiting patiently, we were done.

The display.

David and the girls.


Patrick came by later for leftovers. He really enjoyed it too.

Friday I met up again with Perrine for our Tandem meeting as we checked out La Piscine, this former indoor swimming pool which is now a museum. It was cool to go there with her since she studied art history for 2 years before her Bac. I think I ended up learning a lot more about her and her artistic ideas, or at least a lot more than I thought I would. We even sat and analyzed a painting for 30 minutes together, forcing ourselves to speak in the other's language, using words and phrases that we had never felt comfortable using before.

La Piscine.

What a cutie.

What was Saturday filled with? I don't think I can explain. I wish I had pictures, but honestly, time didn't warrant it. Want to know why? Sara, this Italian girl, and I ended up going grocery shopping (haha, yeah, again) for about 2 hours, followed by roughly 4+ hours of hanging out in her tiny kitchen with only 2 gas plates and a light that hardly worked, cooking Indian food for roughly 23 people, Frenchies and Erasmusies alike.

Stressful? Yes.
Tiring? Yes.
Delicious? So I was told.
One of the coolest things I've ever done, sharing my North Indian food culture with French, Italian, German, Australian, Spanish, Belgian and Dutch students? Oh you had better fucking believe it.

Of course, I could not have been able to do it without Sara being incredibly awesome with her Tandoori Chicken along with supplying everything, plus with the help of that adorable German Anna-Sophie, who stuck by me in the kitchen for about half that time.

While I was in the kitchen, I had no clue how many people were there. Everyone would come into the kitchen as I went through pan after pan, throwing spices everywhere, getting someone to taste it to see if it was missing something, being asked by many if I needed help and finally getting out of there by 10pm, and handed a cold refreshing beverage. Followed by many more beverages as I had been sweating away in the kitchen.

Final verdict? Not sure, but I think people coming up to me saying that they'd heard it was a great success... that's probably a good sign. So now, all I can do is think about cooking Indian food. Anyone want some?

Posted by ReenaB 11:03 Tagged food

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