April 27 2013
I hadn't realised before I moved out to Paris that about being an expat in Paris is the fact that however hard you try, you will not ever fit in. That's not to say that if I had known this I wouldn't have come, it's just that I hadn't expected it. Even if you're married to a French man or woman, you will be referred to by their friend as "the American" or "the British." As for your loved one, they may accept your love of Kraft mac'n'cheese or cricket, but they won't understand it.
I consider myself fairly fluent in French - not perfect, but I wouldn't even say my English is perfect. However, I know I will never be able to speak the language with a native accent and this will be the biggest give-away. I am also very unlikely to fit into the French mindset and adapt to their habits. I never fully understood what Sting was talking about in his song Englishman in New York until fairly recently. Even though I have left my home country long behind, it is this realisation that has made embrace, and even play up, my English quirks.
My lawyer recently said that he liked my accent, that it was exotic. I'm an import myself.
Maybe it's for that reason that I like my quartier so much. I love the fact that at only five minutes walk away, I can get a decent Indian curry, a superlative bowl of pho, halal chicken and half the mint in northern-Africa. I also love the Paris Store (the Chinese Import supermarket) that I consider my local. There I can find Weetabix, McVities Gingernut biscuits and Scottish shortbread tucked just behind the abundance of fortune cookies, spring rolls and lord only knows what else. That sounds more disparaging that I intended it to. I do actually really enjoy trying out new products. Not being able to read the label only adds to the intrigue. The photo above is a pretty typical shopping basket for cupboard staples.
Yes, it's true, I drink Banana Juice for breakfast, I drink white tea on the balcony in the sunshine. White Chrysanthemum actually was one of the highly regarded herbs cultivated by ancient Chinese nobility. white tea comes from the same tea plant species as green tea - the Camelie Sinesis. It is made from new growth buds and young leaves that are still covered in fine white hair. That may not sound appealling and even though the taste profile of white tea and green tea differs a little, both posses the natural goodness found in the tea leaves. However, despite all that, I still haven't managed to bring myself to enjoy the Basil Seed Drink (see link at the bottom of the page to work out why!) This afternoon I stumbled across something new that I hadn't seen before...
Intrigued but somewhat intimidated by the Fermented Litchi Drink, I decided to drink it slightly chilled. On the nose, it strikes of overly ripe, white fleshy fruit - a little pear, some passion fruit, guyava and, of course, lychee. It conjures up images of a foreign market, seducing your senses with exotic fruits and spices. The palette leaves less to the imagination. Very light on the fruit notes, with heavy alcohol coming through. None of that sweetness/acidity seesaw that I was hoping for. A decently long finish, but not a particularly pleasant one. At 2 euros 40 for the 750ml bottle, I got what I paid for. I'll probably have a hangover tomorrow morning thrown in free.