I had to go through fire and brimstone of paperwork and lengthy explanations to make them understand that although I had my maiden name, I was married, and my baby would get my husband's family name after all.
After announcing the 'Big News', the first words that I heard from my immediate family were: "My God, you're not thinking of giving birth there?"
I needed to know the secret to a decent dressing! The kind that my high-school sweetheart had once made for me and that I had tried to duplicate in vain ever since.
But we had to use our kitchen, didn't we. And the kitchen was the coldest place in the house. It was too low a temperature to mature a good Roquefort cheese in, for Roquefort requires a steady ten degrees to work its magic. Our kitchen, on the other hand, had the steady temperature of +4°C.
When I mention southern France, what comes to your mind? I know what comes to mine, still, after all these years ... turquoise seawater ... lavender fields ... and above all, embracing warmth. This list comes to mind, to vanish immediately, replaced with other phenomena I've become accustomed to recently.
I can call Villecomtal my village now because I feel integrated, as much as it’s possible for a foreigner. Meaning I work with the locals, befriend the locals, converse easily with the locals. It sure had seemed hard to integrate in France, especially in Paris!
Let's say, for argument's sake, the airline messed up and you wound up in this completely strange European city. Is it true? Could this be PARIS? - If you're still at a complete loss and the airline misplaced your GPS, let me give you a couple of well-tested clues just to make sure.
A lot has been written about making friends with the French. Because they're… ‘special friends’. The kind you spend a long time getting. My crusade to France started out with living in Paris with no friends at all, and as a few more years rolled by, I still had none.
Coming from the land of Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Santa's little helpers, it was hard to imagine true Christmas could be found anywhere else...who knew what the French ate at their Christmas table?
But after settling permanently in the French countryside, I found myself willing to prove myself worthy of having a French kitchen of my own. And what could have been more helpful to a blundering novice of a Finn that I was than the Frenchman's culinary bible: Je Sais Cuisiner.