Monthly Archives: December 2011

Christmas Cooking Challenge

From the look of things you would think all was right in the world – Kim Jong Il is dead, snowstorms are causing airport delays, and holiday vacation is just around the corner. Little did I know that I was gonna be stuck cooking Christmas Eve dinner this year.

Now I love the holidays, not just for the lights, the sweets and the silly fun of it all, but also the chance to be a carefree kid again as my parents inevitably reclaim the grinding daily duties of cooking, cleaning and taking care of most everything. But thanks to my blog post THANKSGIVNG WITH FRIENDS OR FAMILY in November, I am screwed. My dad was reading it and let my mom take a look. She finally got over her feelings about it and called to tell me in her thick Cuban accent, “I read your blog. It was vedy, vedy funny. And then I got vedy, vedy angry.” As a result, my mom told my family that she is going on strike and handing the job of cooking Christmas Eve dinner (Cubans do their eating on Christmas Eve not Christmas Day) to me so she can write about my cooking on the internet. [Parker Platform is reserving a spot for her rant.]

Although I wish I could go into this with no cares, easily creating a menu that would knock her socks off, I’ve instead had to spend my holiday stressing. Not only is my husband vegetarian (not vegan), but my Dad has gout and doesn’t know that it’s better to watch your diet during the rest of the year so you can take advantage of the good stuff when it counts during the holidays. As a result, my menu must be awesome without meat, shellfish nor certain fishes, no purine rich foods like mushrooms, cauliflower, spinach, and well basically any fun foods that make a feast festive. So wish me luck as I come up with something that says Christmas but lets the Vegetarian partake and Gout Boy not go immobile. Stay tuned next week for the results and my mom’s vengeance review. She has assured me that she will show no mercy.

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Five more lessons learned from living in Paris

Jennifer Scott learned a lot from her trip to Paris and shared it on CNN.com. She set out five lessons she learned along with her observations:

1. Live a passionate life; 2. Cultivate an air of mystery; 3. Look presentable always; 4. Don’t forget the simple pleasures (and do not deprive yourself) and 5. Make life a formal affair – Scott was impressed by the formal manner in which her host family lived. They were always elegantly dressed, their apartment was beautifully furnished and they maintained graceful rituals. As a visitor to their home, for example, Scott was considered the female guest of honor and was always served first at dinner, ahead of her host and hostess and their son. ‘They just observed these formal protocols and manners and etiquette were very important to them,’ Scott said. ‘They used their best china and their best crystal on a regular basis. … They used the nicest things that they had on a daily basis and it elevated every experience that we had.'”

So I talked about this article with my friend Sara who just got back from another trip to Paris, and she shared with me a few lessons she felt were missing from Ms. Scott’s list.

#6  Don’t Follow the Rules

In America we get ticketed for not following the rules of the road, but in Paris, Sara says people ride small cars and Vespas anywhere they want to avoid traffic.

“For example, on Bastille Day, my host (Magali) hooked me up with a friend of hers who owned a Vespa. The streets were packed, so her friend was resourceful and swerved us between lanes and cars — my hand even hit someone’s side view mirror! He drove us onto sidewalks hitting a pedestrian or two — it was magical.”

At one point Sara asked the driver why he didn’t follow traffic rules. He said, “Because I’m not German.”

#7 Add excitement to your seduction

Parisians are known for being experts in love.

“It was crazy. I noticed Parisian men were way more interested in sleeping with me than American men. And they always seemed to think outside the box.”

At an upscale Parisian home, Sara’s date kissed her in front of his male friend, then turned and kissed his friend before looking back at her.

“I was so confused. Was he gay? Then it hit me, ‘Oh he wants a ménage à trois!’ Americans are much more forward, but French people know how to ask for things in very mysterious and unexpected ways. It was thrilling.”

#8 You’ll never get it right so don’t bother

Every time Sara would try to pronounce words like “eau” or “putain” she would get corrected again and again by Magali. In the end, she finally gave up since she realized she’d never get it right.

“I felt like such a fool. I must have been killing Magali’s ears. Then I realized, the less I tried, the less I’d get corrected. So I stopped trying to speak French with her and enjoyed the rest of my trip engaging in thoughtful conversations in English. It was lovely.”

#9 Too much attention can be too much

Magali thinks Père Lachaise cemetery is a national treasure and was proud to show it to Sara one overcast afternoon.

“I had an ex-boyfriend that loved Jim Morrison, so I couldn’t wait to get a photo taken at Jim Morrison’s grave so I’d have another reason to talk to my ex again!”

Walking into the cemetery however, Sara saw the downside of being a deceased celebrity.

“I kept seeing his name graffiti’d on tombstones, so thinking it was him, I found myself taking photos at graves of people like Auguste Comte and Marcel Proust (whoever they are). I got so tired of taking a photo with the wrong dead person that I gave up. I never did talk to my ex again.”

#10 Stop trying to learn how to improve yourself

Sara noticed that Magali never read self-help books or watched Oprah.

“The French have gone through so much, they have nothing else to learn. They’ve been through wars, revolutions, guillotines and now Nicolas Sarkozy. After so many ups and downs they realize there’s never any chance of real improvement so it’s best to just live and let live. C’est la vie!”

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