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Published: November 1st 2008
After a day, I’m not sure four days here will be too long. The people have been amazing so far. There’s a huge language barrier, I didn’t realize Gaspard wasn’t fluent in English. We went to hang out with some of his friends last night who thought it would be fun to speak English all night, mostly for my benefit, but I think people like to show off their multi-linguality.
Today I wandered around myself, and went to Vieux Lille. I passed a friterie
, which, if you know my favorite food, you know how excited I was. Gaspard tells me that in Lille, they cook fries in the Belgium style. They heat them through first, and then, when someone orders them, they cook them a second time in the frier to crisp them. Really the best fries I've had.
There was a large family in front of me at the friterie, and most of them were getting the frites fricadelle
. It looked like you could get any of the sandwich options as a frites accompaniment. I had no idea what fricadelle
was, but everyone else got it, so I did too. Sounded more exciting than “jambon”. It turned out to be
a delicious sausage that was kind of toasty on the outside. Don’t tell too many people, but I couldn’t even finish it. I threw some fries away!!! I know, completely unprecedented. I have been trying to get back on my “Paris diet” though, so hopefully I don’t pig out too much, and walk a lot, and by the time I’m back in the US I won’t be fat. I walked east of Vieux Lille, and the entire area was gorgeous. It’s supposedly the posh area, very expensive, with high end shops. But also, the streets were all cobble-stoned, and the store-fronts were expertly arranged. It was freezing out (and will be for the next week), so I was searching for a cheap jacket I could wear around, and maybe still wear when I get cold in the US. I managed to not get lost at all! Or, if I did, to quickly right myself again. What an easy city to navigate. Gaspard gave me a map, which at first I thought would be highly inadequate, but it turns out Lille is just extremely small, and doesn't have many streets. I did end up finding a jacket, and now I'm warm.
It has been interesting talking to Gaspard, as, in our initial contact, he said he works a few hours a day at the McDonalds. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Then, we were talking on the way to his place, and he mentioned that he has a master’s in chemical engineering. Then I took notice. It’s ridiculous to me, that even with a bachelor’s, let alone a masters in such a difficult field, that someone is the cashier at a fast food joint. He said he had a great work opportunity, but somehow it fell through. Even still, it is so scary to me how disposable everyone is, despite their level of education. Pretty soon you’ll need a PhD to be a sales clerk. Everyone here seems to be pretty well educated (almost everyone speaks conversational English), and it has really motivated me to get back to school.
Tonight I had a fun Halloween, un-constumed, with Gaspard and friends. One of them, Alex, is a salesman for Johnson & Johnson, therefore his English vocabulary includes gimicky buzz words for air fresheners. When Gaspard was talking about his cat, and how he buys cheap kitty litter, Alex says,
"you mean, it doesn't neutralize the odors?" complete with French accent. Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious. Most things these characters say in English is funny, because they all have such typical French accents. Alex had spent some time in the US, and was stereotyping Americains, when Gaspard says, "boot I don't sink she eez like ozzer Americains," referring to me. It was the nicest thing he could have said, and it was also funny to hear!
Tomorrow we will be going to a concert...in Belgium!!!! Apparently it's a mere half-hour drive. I am so excited! I will be sure to eat some fries, and drink a beer.
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