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Interview: Hey I’m lost in cheeseland!

Judy MacMahon - 08/07/13 -

I have pleasure in introducing you to Lindsey Tramuta, a native of Philadelphia.

Lindsey graduated almost 18 months ago from The American University of Paris with a Master of Arts in Global Communications… and already I’m getting ahead of myself. Lindsey came to Paris to go to school and stayed on because she fell in love with Cédric her now-husband. Lindsey also loves food, music and reading. And she openly shares her oft-amusing views on life in Paris in her blog, Lost In Cheeseland. Now that she’s lived in Paris for a while, Lindsey has broadened her horizons in relation to food curiosity and certainly her palate.

Join me in my chat with Lindsey…

What was your background before heading to France? Did you have any prior connection or interest in France before moving there?

I was a Francophile the moment I started learning French in Middle School. My fondness for the language and culture continued to grow, particularly after my first trip to France in high school. It was after that short but defining trip that I realized not only did I love the French lifestyle (and not just the Parisian way of life) but I wanted to be where I could use my language skills. I continued taking French through the remainder of High School, the pursued an undergraduate degree in the language as well. That being said, France has been a part of my life plan for a VERY long time!

Would you give me 3 adjectives which best describe you AND how would you describe what makes you ‘tick’

Perfectionist, curious, and devoted – it’s the pursuit of the untapped and lesser-known spots/people in Paris that keep me writing. It wasn’t until I had lived in Paris for over two years that the interest in writing really even developed so I would say that living here, among a people whose idiosyncrasies I often find intolerable, that I feel the most creative and inspired.

When did you come up with the idea of Lost in Cheeseland?

Lost in Cheeseland was born out of a frustrating morning commute to work last July (2009). I left extra early that morning to take the bus instead of the metro to cross town because after a period of rain, the sun was shining, the temperatures were pleasant and I love seeing the city before it’s fully awake. This ended up being a mistake. As we were stopped at a traffic light near rue du bac, after being motionless in traffic for 20 minutes, I watched in horror as a Parisian garbage truck pulled into the bus lane – directly where we were headed. The light turned green and we inched our way into the lane, behind the truck whose garbage men were jumping off every 10 feet to collect the trash bins. At this point, it was already 9:15am and I was never going to make it to work on time. We tailed the truck for another mile before they turned off to monopolize another bus lane but I was already fuming, jaw dropped, at that point.

Now, I have never lived in another major city before Paris but I was certain that morning rush hour could not possibly the appropriate time to pick up the trash. Yes, unions likely dictate the hours between which they may work, but the traffic created by this truck alone seemed indicative of questionable French logic. During my lunch break that day, I created my first blog post, to vent. How very French of me!

What were you hoping to achieve when you created Lost in Cheeseland? (Personally and was/is there a commercial side of any sort?)

I never intended for blogging to become such an important hobby but once I got used to writing regularly and finding things I wanted to discuss, no matter how silly or light hearted, it became second nature. Then, once I started developing a following and support, I decided to pursue the blog more seriously. It’s not meant to be a commercial venture, really, because I think that takes the fun out of it. If by commercializing the blog I’m expected to write everyday, I’m not interested. I write when I have something to say or something I experienced that is worth sharing. I certainly did not expect the blog to lead to a weekly writing spot on the women’s lifestyle network BitchBuzz nor the various other guest posts I have had the pleasure of writing. It’s been great practice and experience for me and I’m pleased that it’s connected me with some many people internationally.

Are you really a cheese aficionado or is it just a play on words about France?

Ah ha! Great question. I do love cheese but admittedly, I’m a poor excuse for a French cheese connoisseur. I adore Comté and goat cheese as well as other mild, hard cheeses, but I cannot stomach the pungent staples of French gastronomy – camembert, Roquefort, Brie, or Epoisses. Nonetheless, the French are known as much for their cheeses as they are for their opinions so it was an easy play on words for my blog title!

I believe you have a home in Paris , tell us about your ‘French Life’ …

I’ve blogged about this before but it never ceases to amuse me how many times my friends from the States comment on what a glamorous and exciting life I lead. I don’t perceive it to be any different than the life of any other urbanite – I still have day to day responsibilities, grocery shopping, banking, dishes to wash, floors to vacuum, etc. It’s true that some of these tasks are even more difficult here but people definitely romanticize the Parisian lifestyle. But in terms of how I spend my time? Between eating (a lot), writing (a lot) and exploring (a lot), I also do a lot of grunting when I’m faced with an unnecessarily surly Parisian.

My bank is closed on Mondays which is extremely frustrating and almost all deliveries for anything in the city happen between 9 and 6 (work hours) and no one can give you an estimated delivery time so you’re either stuck at home all day for something that may or may not even arrive, or you’re fighting with someone about how illogical it is not to have weekend deliveries. Arguing with Parisians is the only way to prevent yourself from getting walked on. But it has become both something that gets me worked up and something I find to be somewhat of a fun challenge. Will I win this time, I wonder?

Aside from little frustrations, I love going out to eat, discovering the lesser known restaurants and cafés, spending an afternoon reading, writing, people watching and sipping tea, going for walks without a particular destination in mind, going to the numerous open-air markets around the city, or laying in a park with a book for an afternoon.  All of those things make the little struggles worth battling.

What is it that attracts you to France and the French?

I always found the language to be beautiful. Now that I speak it fluently and am exposed to it constantly, there are moments where I find it limiting, obnoxious even ugly. But language was what first piqued my interest. After visiting for the first time and noticing how locals nursed their meals, spent hours chatting and regaling, I knew I’d return. The landscapes were stunning, the lifestyle much more conducive to enjoying life outside of work, and the social benefits appealing. Now, it’s many of the same reasons that keep me here as well as my desire to continue being in an environment where I can put my linguistic skills to good use.

What are your personal passions? You seem to have a love affair with food, true? What else? Did I hear something about marketing and social media? Or is that just about work?

Who doesn’t have a love affair with food? Okay, there are people that don’t. My appreciation for food, I will say, has evolved tremendously since I’ve lived in France. My palette has expanded and I’m more willing to try new things.

My educational background is in both French and Communications. I did my Master’s in Global Communications at the American University of Paris and am heavily involved with social media for both work and pleasure. Aside from these things, blogging has really fine tuned my writing skills and I enjoy challenging myself to come up with new and relevant content (food is, of course, part of this process!). I’ve also taken an interest in digital photography and teaching myself Italian. Only one of those is actually progressing ….

Judy comment:I would like to add here that Lindsey ‘forgot’ to tell us about her passion of taking photos! Photos that are fabulous and much appreciated by others.  Photos which are not the cliches to which we are often exposed.  Just one little example here for you. [hint! you’ll find more on her site; but I didn’t tell you. OK?]

Judy MacMahon - 08/07/13 -

Lindsey, can we play a little game of favourites for a minute?

·        City in France – Paris (too easy!)

·        Quarter in Paris – a toss up between the 11th and the 3rd!

·        Gallery in Paris – to be honest, I’m not a big art buff so I’m the last person you’d find at a gallery!

·        French composer, singer, music / author, both / or other – whatever you love… and tell us a little about why?-

One of my favorite French authors is Katherine Pancol who wrotes “Les Yeux Jaunes des Crocodiles” – a long but incredibly engaging story that virtually everyone on the metro was reading during a certain period. Marc Levy is like the Dan Brown of French literature – literary elites hate him because he’s a bestseller but the public loves him because he tells the stories people want to read. He develops relatable characters and storylines that touch on love, family, loss and fear. When I first started reading in French I read all of his books available within a couple of months and found they drastically helped my vocabulary and comprehension skills. Now, I read a variety of different authors, but still keep an eye out for new Levy and Pancol books.

·        Favourite French food…

Comté (preferably aged 30 months which you can almost always get at the fromager on rue Montorgueil)

·        If it was a personal celebration where in Paris would you love to go for lunch and also for dinner – oh and what about a cocktail or something else special?

Lunch – Bistrot de L’Entrecôte in the 17th on the place Pereire (not owned by the original L’Entrecôte but they share the same secret bistro sauce). Their meat is outstanding, they have excellent service, and tasty tapenade and toasted baguette slices that are offered to every table before the meal. For dinner, I’d go back to POMZE on Boulevard Haussman. Since my first overwhelming positive experience there, I’ve returned numerous times. Always original, always excellent. I’ve never been disappointed.

·        What have I missed?

Nothing! says Lindsey…

Judy: … you know I get the feeling that I have just touched the tip of the iceberg with my questions of Lindsey. My instincts are that there are many more layers and heaps and heaps of self depreciating and really funny stories. Perhaps we will have another chance to have a chat with Lindsey. Maybe next time by video Lindsey? oui? non? peut-etre?

Perhaps you can come up with some questions… (comments section below) and I’m sure that Lindsey will answer you 😉

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