Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Suzanne's Cooking Challenge!

My cooking resources include:

--A kitchen sink
--Two burners
--A large saucepan (large enough to make a full box of pasta in)
--A colander
--A wooden spoon, forks, spoons, butter knives, and a steak knife

And that's all. No microwave, refrigerator, or oven. I have been eating pasta with pesto mixed in for the last week, and I'm not tired of it yet (it's actually quite delicious!) but I don't want to get tired of it, so I need other ideas! They'd probably have to be vegetarian dishes because I do not have a way of storing meat. Cheese and eggs are okay. Milk probably isn't, but I'd try. No peanut butter unless you intend to send me a jar or two (it's about $6 for a tiny jar). I can buy another pot or pan if necessary. Desserts appreciated. The fewer ingredients and the less preparation time the better. Contestant with the best recipe wins a prize. Anyone who submits a recipe with Nutella wins a prize. E-mail all recipes to seemmert@gmail.com Ready, set, go!

Monday, October 27, 2008

This was written on Sunday.

There was a crazy time change today (Sunday)! I had completely forgotten that France had started doing that. Emilie sent me a text message to remind me but I didn’t get it until I had already gotten dressed and headed out the door for lunch at 10:30 AM… I thought it was 11:30 because the time changed automatically on my computer but not on my French cell phone, and I trusted the thing actually purchased in France. Silly me!

I spent part of the day wandering around the open market, and part wandering around parts of the Chateau Ducal that I had not yet seen. There are a few staircases that wind down from the top of the castle walls that are barred off, probably because descending down them would be treacherous… but I still want to know where they used to go! I also visited the sculpture garden by the castle which is reminiscent of the White Witch’s garden in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I found a good reading spot on the lawn amongst some lovely trees where I sat and read Harry Potter à l’ecole des sorciers. In case you were wondering, Hogwarts translates into Poudlard. Not quite sure why…

After coming back from the chateau I found my friends at the dorm, and they were all in a frenzy, trying to figure out what time it was. We were all so terribly confused that I sent Emilie a text message to ask her to tell me for the second time that day. They do the time change thing to save on energy, which I think is interesting. Gas and electricity must be much more expensive here than I thought. Things we wouldn’t even think about, like toasters and hot water boilers, make their bills go up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Macbook for the win!

I feel very sorry for the Windows Vista users here on campus, because they just did something to the internet here to make it work even less, and now in certain areas Windows Vista users aren't able to have access. Boo, that stinks. I'm glad I opted for the Macbook this summer when my Dell crashed!

E-mail Update

Dear friends and family,

I told you that I would update you a few weeks ago, and so finally here I am! In case you were wondering, my fractured nose is healing nicely. Right now it sports a tiny bump and a couple of scars, but it's not too noticeable. Other than tracking the recovery of my sniffer, I have been enjoying la vie française!

Since I last e-mailed you, I've been on some excursions, my favorite so far being in Bayeux. It's absolutely one of the most charming towns I have ever seen, and if you're ever in Normandie, make sure you spend part of a day there. I think we'll go back for Thanksgiving to eat at the restaurant we went to—best food we've had in France so far! Next week I'll be going to Paris for the first time, and I'm so excited! We'll be visiting Pere Lachaise on Halloween—spooky. In two weeks we'll have some days off of school and I will be staying with my host grandparents in Deauville for a party for students involved with the Twin Cities organization. I'm here on scholarship because Lexington is Deauville's sister city.

Caen is treating me as well as the places I've been visiting. The classes are challenging and the professors are so sweet and patient. Though my kitchen contains only two burners and a sink, I've been managing to find things in the store that do not require refrigeration, microwaving, baking, or any more utensils than a pot and a spoon, that actually aren't bad! My favorite of my meals is pasta with basil pesto. I'm aware that pesto needs to be refrigerated, but part of the challenge of cooking here is lowering one's standards for what needs to be kept cold…

Despite the fact that Caen isn't a very big city, there's a lot to do. Last Friday I went with two French friends, Emilie and Marie, to go see the opera of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was in English with French subtitles. I enjoyed it very much, as did the other two girls. I think I'll be seeing Le Mariage de Figaro in Paris next month. It makes being away from my voice lessons and voice teacher at UK so, so difficult.

That's all for now! Thank you so much for your e-mails, prayers, Skypes, phone calls, and your letters. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to hear from people I love, especially because some Americans have a Crazy Switch flipped in their brains once their feet hit European ground (but let's not go there)! All of my mail is put on my wall to add some color to my room. I really, really appreciate it.

Á bientôt!

Suzanne Emmert

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Erica, Courtney, and I went to Cherbourg yesterday. Compared to the rest of the places we've been to it was nothing special, just a cute town along the English Channel. We got there at lunch time after a train ride of lovely countryside scenery and ate by the port, then wandered around for a few hours. We stopped by a lovely, dark Cathedral and a basilica. The picture in this post is of a statue above an altar at the basilica-- isn't it gorgeous and eerie?

On Friday night Emilie Roussel called me and we went with a girl named Marie to see the opera of A Midsummer Night's Dream, in English, with French subtitles. The French subtitles turned out to be beneficial for me! I think it was my first time seeing an opera, and I wasn't disappointed. It was very interesting! The music was written in the mid 20th century which isn't exactly to my taste but I still very much enjoyed it, the voices of the singers, the light-up costumes, and the creative scenery!

To be honest, this has kind of been a down week. I just miss a lot of things. I miss my family and friends, obviously. I miss singing so much. So, so much. I can't even sing in my own room without disturbing a neighbor! I miss my books, because I have run out of things to read in English and reading in French is fun, but not relaxing. I miss having the internet in my room--right now I have to go to a restaurant and spend money to use it, or sit outside of a building at school, and it's always very slow and limited. I miss washing machines, dryers, microwaves, refrigerators, and ovens! I've been cooking, though, by which I mean I've been making pasta and mixing delicious basil pesto in it!

I guess I'm bound to have my down weeks! It's often so inconvenient and expensive to live here. But next week, on Halloween, my friends and I will be in Paris, and I will have another huge reminder that everything I have to put up with is very insignificant!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I'd Bayeux Love!

Fromage du jour: Camembert, which I’m developing a taste for even though it tastes like grass.

Yesterday morning Kylie, Courtney, Erica, and I hopped on a train to Bayeux, which is about a fifteen minute, 8 Euro round-trip ride from Caen. Bayeux is famous for the Bayeux Tapestry, which is a looooong tapestry that tells the story of William the Conqueror. I listened to the French version of the audio guide and was pleased to find that I could follow the story quite well! Blood, gore, etc, etc. It was a fascinating panorama—well worth the visit.

Afterward we went to a café I can’t remember the name of at the moment and I had the best meal I’ve had since coming to France. Grilled turkey with Camembert sauce, sweet potato fries, grilled zucchini, and potatoes au gratin. I thought I had died in food Heaven. We met some Americans who were spending the month in Normandy (there were lots of Americans and Brits about), and they took a picture for us.

Then we visited the Notre Dame cathedral of Bayeux which was the most beautiful cathedral I’ve seen so far. The stained glass was exquisite. We visited the crypt beneath the sanctuary, which, though small, still managed to be very creepy! I don’t know how I’ll manage the catacombs of Paris should I see them this year.

After window shopping and tea at an adorable tea room (where I also ate a raspberry tartelette for my good friend Dorothy Brown!), we decided to head back to Caen. The internet is now shut off on campus on the weekends, so we plopped down with our laptops at the good old McDonald’s. Talking to multiple family members and friends via Skype and other forms of instant internet communication was the perfect ending for such a nice day.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Perfect ending to a rough week!

Fromage du jour: Does ice-cream count as a cheese?

Yesterday I felt woozy all day long, and so I took the entire afternoon to sleep. I gave Kylie some money to buy me a dinner because walking put too much pressure on my head—isn’t that pathetic? Who knew that a broken nose and a bump on the head would make walking difficult? I had a delicious dinner of kebab sandwich, Coca Cola, and no preservative, no artificial flavors Twix bars. Oh, mama, it was delicious. I spent the evening alone in my room, just resting off the week by napping and watching House and the season premier of Pushing Daisies. I felt bad that I didn’t feel well enough to go out with my friends (the Chinese waitress, Karen, at our favorite restaurant asked where I was!), but it was exactly what I needed. Today I woke up to the Calvados I love and have been missing during this cold, stormy week: it was warm, sunny, and I felt great!

We had kebab sandwiches for lunch and then Courtney and I went shopping (Kylie and Erica were too sleepy). I found a beret, a sweater, and a skirt at H&M and a much-needed pillow from Eurodif. Eurodif is one of the most amazing stores! It’s a home decorating store with clothing and accessories as well. They have a small selection of yarn that reminded me that I need to attempt knitting again.

Courtney and I swung by the dorm and took Kylie and Erica along to our favorite patisserie (raspberry donut* for me!), and then to Marche Plus (formerly 8 a Huit) for. . .

Cereal and milk.

That’s right. We bought Frosted Flakes and cold milk. Milk in France doesn’t taste good at all, but we couldn’t tell when it was poured over the cereal, and so we had the best afternoon snack! I can’t even tell you how much I’ve missed cereal! Our kitchen doesn’t have a fridge and so we can’t store milk, but I guess we figured that if we all had milk and cereal for dinner we could drink it before it needed refrigeration.

So, how could it not be a good day? The cuts on my nose are healing nicely, I had a great shopping trip, and now I’m at McDonald’s for some WIFI. Let me tell you, I will not take Super Value Menus or WIFI for granted ever, EVER again!

*Forget all you knew about donuts, and pastries in general, if you ever come to France. They’re otherworldly here. How will I ever be able to leave?