Category Archives: Travel

Travel

Going Home

*This isn’t a funny post, nor is there really a food aspect to it. I know this is a food blog and you expect food, but sometimes it’s okay to break the rules.*

It’s over. I’m in London for the night and head back to the States tomorrow.

At the beginning of this trip I was still overcome with the crippling anxiety and worry that I couldn’t seem to shake. The unease and numbness from being bored, boring, wanting. Of feeling that I was stuck, of needing my comfort zone and relying on it while attempting to thrive in the small box I’d placed myself into.

Whenever someone asks me to try and explain what anxiety is like, I tell them it’s like dealing with a child, someone completely separate from yourself. Like children, anxiety is temperamental and can lash out at any time with seemingly no rhyme or reason. And the more you reason with it and contain its petulant behavior, the more it wants to be heard. There were times when I was so overwhelmed with such heavy anxiety I would be curled on the floor, nauseated to the point of wanting to die. I would speak to my anxiety and bargain with it, pleading for it to work with me. We will get through this together, I’d say, feeling nuttier by the minute. How could I throw caution to the wind and strip away the tethers that comforted me when going to the next town over sent me into a cold and sweaty panic? A person can only handle so much of that before it beats them down, leaving a shadow cast over who they used to be and who they want to be.

Anxiety isn’t as strong as it thinks it is.

In the last 3 months I’ve gone to so many beautiful places, ate many delicious and disgusting things, put myself into situations well outside of my comfort zone and thrived without the burden of anxiety. I quit my JOB, the most stable part of my life! To come to Europe! To cook and eat!

I don’t know what’s going to come of my adventure. Maybe something incredible, maybe nothing but these amazing memories I’ve built. But if nothing else, I pursued something I felt was beyond my grasp and defeated the worst part of my anxiety: the part that was always so convincing when telling me I couldn’t have what I really wanted for myself.

I wouldn’t say I’m lucky, because that discredits the work I put into it. But I feel so lucky.

I wouldn’t say I’m blessed, because that places too much holy into my very secular journey. But I feel so blessed.

Above these, I feel something I forgot I could feel until I got out of my own way and let it peek through layers of senseless worry I’ve accumulated year after year:

So. Flippin. Happy.

France Paris Recipes Sweet Travel

Nobody Likes Zombie Babies, Everyone Likes Chocolate Beignets.

Well, it looks like my aging body has shirked its responsibilities in maintaining my sprightly stamina to match my gloriously youthful face and boyishly ignorant delusions of how I actually look. Where each week in Spain and Italy met me with an overcrowded bus or train headed off in some direction toward a destination boasting “THE BEST” of some culinary offering or another, I’ve instead been taking it easy here in France.

Beignets au Chocolat - Paris, France

Many evenings after long culinary classes I’ve found myself alone and horizontal in my tiny Parisian apartment in prostration, the preceding months of endless go-time finally catching up to me. Not to mention the uneasy impending end of my travels and added unnecessary exhaustion of repeating two words I really should remove from my repertoire: what next?

I imagine this is what heroin addicts must feel to some degree. Is this what druggies have to go through? Wading in the euphoria of my China White travel high, but looking toward the approaching sobering up period with fearful eyes and sloppy, cracked lips. If this were Trainspotting, now would be the part where I see the dead baby crawling on the ceiling. I hate that part. I hate that part so much.

A big problem I’m trying to overcome is my tendency to focus my attention on what’s ahead of me rather than what’s already at my feet. I’m in one of the most highly acclaimed culinary spots and coveted vacation sites in the world and mentally I’m already back home in Tampa. You’re shaking your head at me. I understand, I’m shaking mine too.

 

Beignet au Chocolat - Paris, FranceBeignet au Chocolat - Paris, FranceBeignet au Chocolat - Paris, France

A few nights ago after a particularly stressful day, an ethereal figure came to me in my dreams. That figure was Beyonce. I know how this sounds, but just stick with me for a second. I don’t know why Beyonce was with me, I’m not even really a fan. I couldn’t name one album of hers if my KitchenAid’s life depended on it. But she forgave me my cardinal Beyonce sin and she looked at me in my eyes with a look of concern before saying, “boo, what do you think you’re doing worrying the way you are? Do you know where you is? ” and without responding, I thought about those words. I do know where I is. Why am I concerning myself with what’s waiting around the corner when there’s so much in my favor right now?

I laughed a little and went to respond but she stopped me in my tracks. “I actually don’t care what you have to say to me,” she bleated — because she was now a goat for absolutely no reason at all — before shooting me a smarmy wink and prancing off into the shadows, leaving behind nothing but the resounding click of her heels and some wise words to consider.

 

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France Paris Recipes Sweet Travel

Macerated Strawberry-Basil Crepes

In Spain it was tapas. In Italy it was gelato. Here in France I’ve been hooked on crepes. I should have known this would happen, because it always happens. I have a predisposition to eating sweets with the most severe form of Dionysian indulgence. It’s gotten so bad that the last time I went to the doctor I found out my blood type is now chocolate.

Macerated Strawberry-Basil Crepe

My favorite creperie is literally across the street from where I’m living, taunting me daily. I know, we live in an age where the term “literally” has fallen victim to hyperbole, but this time I actually mean it. LITERALLY. ACROSS. THE STREET. Some nights I hang out my widow and stare at it wistfully, if not angrily, because who can sleep when there are crepes so close by? I wonder if dogs get angry about these kinds of things. Dogs can’t really have crepes.

 

Macerated Strawberry-Basil CrepeStrawberries | Crepe Mixture

Once a day I amble down to the creperie for my banana nutella fix where, in spite of missing four of his most prominent teeth, the vendor greets me with a semi-toothy smile of recognition. He knows what I’m there for.

 

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France Paris Travel

Bastille Day 2012

Who knew Europeans liked disco?

 

France Paleo Recipes Paris Recipes Salty Salty Travel

Pan Seared Salmon with Saffron Compound Butter

Mostly known as having the prestige of alumni such as Julia Child and Giada de Laurentus and, um…Kelis, Le Cordon Bleu is easily one of the most recognizable cooking schools in the world. Possibly in the Universe, though I haven’t personally scoped the cosmos to see if this is true.

Pan seared salmon with saffron compound butter

For five decades since its inception, the school had one location in Paris, France. After being bought out by Andre Cointreau of the Cointreau liquor empire, the school subsequently opened 35 locations in 5 different countries. While I appreciate the higher accessibility of LCB training, the charm of moving to Paris to cook French cuisine at the famed school is cheapened, if not totally lost by this sprawl.

Cheapened or not, I completely buy into capitalist ventures (I want all the pretty things!) and couldn’t come to Paris to learn about cuisine and NOT take a class at Le Cordon Bleu. Situated in the 15th arrondissement off of Rue Delhomme, I arrived at the blue and white building at 8:30AM on the dot after rushing across town via the slowest metro in the world. If nothing else can be said about me, I’m at the very least consistent at running late for everything.

Le Cordon Bleu ParisLe Cordon Bleu - Paris, France

The interior of Le Cordon Bleu is larger than it appears on the outside with its multi-levels of demonstration rooms bustling with employees and students in pristine white chefs coats. The walls are peppered with pictures of alumni, especially prominent are the holy shrines of Julia Child, and I halfway expected to turn the corner and find effigies in her honor. Across the main stairwell were pictures of current students and a promotional poster for the movie Sabrina.

I sauntered up to the receptionist, panting and sweating, and while trying to sputter out my limited French, something horrible happened. A tiny drop of spittle flew from my flapping lips and landed on his cheek.

 

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