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Monday, November 28, 2005

peanut butter crepe

For the first time tonight, I felt at home in the family's apartment.

After getting the kids started with their homework, I put a Quiche Lorraine I'd made in the oven, tossed together a salad, and fried potato slices in olive oil. I'm slowly learning simple dishes that involve no herbs and spices, dishes that the kids will eat without yelling "Beurk!" The French version of "Ew!"

Madame and I talked like close girlfriends as I pushed the potatoes around the pan. Even after dinner, we sat over dessert, still talking as the kids left the table so they could make it back to their toys.

This woman has terrified me at times. She is hard headed, independant, blunt and businesslike. She knows glamour and frowns upon anything frumpy or dated. Working under her reign I have sometimes felt small and badly dressed. But she is generous with me, and when we get the chance to speak one on one, the sense of inequality dissapears.

As we spoke the little girl jumped and squirmed on my lap as I wrote out a recipe for the school's cookbook. Each family is to donate a recipe, and since I'm the cook of the house, I got to write out a simple recipe favoured by my mother and I: chicken fried in garlic and steamed in soya sauce. Delicious. I asked Madame to go over it for grammar mistakes before handing it in.

I left the apartment around 7:30 as the mother curled up by the fire reading to her children, and the husband returned from work in a business suit and a smile.

They say you're guilty until proven innocent in France. The French will often dislike you until they've gotten to know you, and you've proved yourself to be good person. I feel I've finally proved myself innocent to the family. And to the woman in the Patisserie who no longer frowns at me.

My past Parisian bitterness is fading and I'm falling for this culture again. I see myself making small changes, dropping North American tendencies and picking up French ones. For one thing I no longer fear sugar, fat, baked goods or butter. These days a meal's not a meal without dessert, and everything I make tends to involve butter, cheese and heavy cream. Bechamel sauce makes everything better. Suddenly everything is so satisfying that there's no need to over eat or feel deprived. Why have seconds when there's dessert waiting?

Tonight I walked back from the grocery store with bag laden with wine, cheese, yoghurt and other delicacies. The sky was dark and Christmas decorations lined the streets. A man selling flowers wished me a "Bon soir," with a sly French grin.

I walked back feeling ready to embrace a culture that has finally accepted me as innocent.

Before I leave I've vowed to try a crepe with peanut butter. I have a gut feeling that the oh-so-French crepe, laced with a very North American peanut butter, will be the best thing I've ever eaten.

Because sometimes, two very different cultures, can make a delicious combination.

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12 Comments:

Blogger the twenty-something said...

Your site is unbelievably adorable, and has such a great sense of realness. I just found it today and I love it!

12:25 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

you've got fans, Gill. Good to hear. nice writing.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, one idea: Crepe with BOTH peanut butter and Nutella. Perhaps I should post that with a warning? -Kate

12:24 AM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

Kate, you're on it. My big plan has been to first try it with peanut butter alone, and THEN with Nutella as well, so all my favourite things could come together. I could even pour some rum on top and light it on fire, or is that taking it too far?

5:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On one hand, I'll bet fresh ground peanut butter would be perfect (or almond butter) - on the other hand, nothing beats Squirrel brand sometimes. :)

Now I want dessert....

Jenn NJ

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Gillian
I don't even know how I landed on your blog but it's absolutely delicious. It's like reading some great novel, only YOU are actually living it!
-M, 19, Montreal Canada

6:19 PM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

As much as I love, and I mean love, fresh peanut butter and almond butter, I think it would have to be sugary smooth skippy to spread right onto a crepe!

And merci for all the beautiful comments. You know I love it.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous J said...

Another "fan" type comment.

I just spent the past couple days reading your blog, every last word. And last night before falling asleep I had this big surge of desire to live a full life. I'm going to cook the most amazing food, explore my city despite feeling trapped on campus, I'm going to live it up. What can I say, you've inspired me!!

For someone only 19, you sure have an old soul, something rare and beautiful.

And randomly: have you ever been to Calgary? Because maybe it's just because I've read so much and it feels like I know you, but your face is familiar to me.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

J, thank you, you give reason to my writing. I've been told I'm an old soul many times before, and I like the idea. I'm from Vancouver and study in Toronto, it's possible you know someone that looks like me, or even that we've crossed paths somewhere. Thanks again. And yes, yes, yes, do explore and make amazing food! Lets live this one life.

3:20 AM  
Blogger eurobrat said...

I just made a peanut butter Finnish crepe (with the delightfully smooth, sugary, very North American Skippy of course!) and drowned it with a glass of red wine. That was before I came to this entry... it must be fate!

I'm back at Ryerson soon, and can't wait to meet you.

4:20 PM  
Blogger James said...

Oh man I just googled peanut butter crêpe to see if anyone else thinks they're as amazing as I do ... glad to see you do ;)

Greetings from Bonn -.j

11:41 AM  
Blogger hoszimina said...

i didn`t have enaf time to read full proff also all of ur comm, i would like to text with U

8:13 AM  

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