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Monday, 19 December 2005

What I did last weekend

I submitted my UC Berkeley Application on Thursday. Yikes. I have no idea about one of my recc letters, so I de-listed it. My former advisor has also been very quiet about whether or not he sent anything, but I would be surprised if he did not. Why are the deadlines so close to final exams?

Friday morning, T blew through town again. We wondered around Montparnasse and did a teeny but of Xmas shopping. The next day, we hopped on a train for Bordeaux, which I'm sure you're aware, is in the south west of France. We arrived and walked around town for a while, which was done up in beaucoup de holiday decorations. Lights were everywhere! We went to the Marché de Noël and wandered around some. It was very charming and stuffed full of food vendors. I purchased a hat, which I like. Then we wandered around looking for food.

It turns out that traditional food of Aquitaine is not entirely vegetarian friendly. I've never heard of so many different kinds of pork. We finally went to an "Italian" restaurant. It's often interesting to see how one country does ethnic food from other countries. I don't recall seeing emmental as an ingredient in Italy. I got gnocchi drenched in cream and cheese. It was good. Sort of a franco-italian hybrid.

The next morning we went to a café / coffee shop that I swear could have been plucked form Berkeley and dropped into Bordeaux. The cafés in the touristy part of Bordeaux have much more similarity to Berkeley's "french" coffee shops than do the cafés of Paris. After drinking too much coffee, we went to look in the Cathedral and then went wine tasting.

The wine tasting was a bi-lingual tour, with most of the information being repeated in English after it was explained in French. The bus ride to the wineries was full of information about the history of Bordeaux and it's wine trade. Bordeaux is the major city in the Aquitaine region. Elanor of Aquitaine was a woman in the 11th century who controlled a large portion of France. She was first married to the French king, but after he was out of the picture (died, probably), the land holdings reverted to her. She then married the king of England and Aquitaine became English property for the next few hundred years. Her son from her second marriage was Richard the Lionhearted, the good king who went on crusades and left somebody crappy to replace him, thus forcing Robin Hood to spring into action and forcibly redistribute wealth. His temporary replacement also signed the Magna Carta. Anyway, fast forward a few hundred years to the Hundred Years War. The French king, with the help of Joan of Arc, regained control of all of the continental holdings of the English. Bordeaux was banned from trading with England. Sine the English were nuts for Bordeaux's wine and bought almost all of it, the people of the region were unhappy and went into revolt. The last battle of the Hundred Years war was fought near the city of Bordeaux. Talbot, then in his 70's, was called out of retirement to help re-take Bordeaux. The English were completely defeated and the French king installed towers to track the coming and going of the people of Bordeaux and make sure they didn't revert to their English ways.

The wine was good too.

For dinner, we managed to go to a traditional restaurant which had a few vegetarian options. Is there anything better than caramelized onions, cream and cheese baked together? No, there is not.

After dinner, we went back to the Marché de Noël with the goal of trying the Bière Chaud. That's hot beer, a speciality of Alsace, which was for sale at the market. It was basically a spiced Christmas beer, served at the same temperature that mulled wine is served. It had a strong flavor of cloves and was drinkable, except for the bitter, awful aftertaste. It was as if they had used the bitterest, nastiest hops in the world. I shudder thinking of it now. Cola and T did not experience this aftertaste, which is strange. So I tried it again, but it was really there. Maybe I can taste some bitter hops oils that some other people can't taste. Maybe this is why I hate IPA and other people like it. Weird. I cannot recommend the bière chaud and may even shudder if you mention it to me. The vin chaud, however, was another story. It goes really well with cotton candy, "barbe à papa." (Literally, "daddy's beard.")

The next day, T left for Spain and Cola and I returned to Paris. I just now realized that Christmas is coming this Sunday. Oh my god, I haven't purchased Cola a present yet! And I need to buy a tree and food and figure out what we're going to eat! So much to do!

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1 comment:

Crinis said...

But of courz, mon amie, je sais que Bordeaux est dans le sud du pais. Ach, mien Got!

PS Joyeux Noël and all that jazz.