Friday, April 1, 2011

April 01, 2011: Grenoble - Bon Anniversaire Ma Soeur, French Philosophy, Last of the Caves, Chinese/Cambodian Food, Poisson Avril

Bon Anniversaire Ma Soeur! Today is Heather's birthday. 

Today was my first time at a different French/English exchange group which is organized more as a "class". We all sat around one large table for discussion, and since the group was about three quarters French, it was good practice for me. The topic was "happiness", with questions posed, answers debated, and people taking turns going around the table to respond.

After that I finally finished reading Jean Auel's "The Painted Caves". What an abysmal novel. Clearly the author made far too much money early on in the series for her editor to have any power over her at this point - 90% of the book should have been cut, because it reiterated the same stories, characters and scenarios over and over. I could tell only 10% of the way in what I was letting myself in for, but I just couldn't give up part ways through - I slogged through the gargantuan book, desperately hoping for some sort of plot. Even the descriptions of the prehistoric cave paintings became painfully boring, as each one was described in mind-numbing detail - as a travel guide to cave paintings, this would fail.

For dinner we went to Phnom Penh, a Chinese/Cambodian restaurant just down the street. It's one of the more upscale Chinese restaurants I've ever been to (I've never been to a Cambodian one; it's difficult to know what aspects were Cambodian). The food had more kick than our Indian dining of week before, but still wasn't as good as we could get along Spadina - and it was more expensive. But we enjoyed debating the mystery ingredients on the French-language menu: St. Jacques (squid?) and gamba (prawns).

And I found out that April Fool's Day is Poisson Avril in France (courtesy of Maureen's blog about life in Grenoble). Stores sell fish-shaped chocolates, and children have only one prank to play - sticking paper fish on each others' backs, and yelling out "Poisson Avril" when it's discovered.

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