What makes for a satisfied and memorable meal: Writing about food using all your senses.

I recently signed up for a food writing class and it’s been a blast! Lately I’ve been trying to spice up my writing and attack the whole process from a different angle which is why I’ve specifically signed up for the class. Here is an excerpt of the class introduction on the QWF (Quebec writer’s federation) site:

“But it isn’t just what’s on our plates that we write about when we write about food. As the famous American food writer M.F.K. Fisher once wrote: “It seems to me our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it… and it is all one.” 

As a first  generation immigrant, food is a way for me to carry a bit of my culture’s ADN with me wherever  I go and being able to hopefully pass some of it down to my children some day. I am Haitian and the surest way to kill me is to prevent me from eating rice or all sort of grain for that matter. You do that and you’ll have my death on your conscience :). I was raised on grains, healthy grains that is. I have been eating that stuff since I was a baby! In fact, in Haiti, we don’t really have food specifically dedicated to babies, except for the occasional Gerber baby pot which is not used that often. Our version of baby food is usually a mash version of adult food except that it’s packed with a lot more food designed to fortify and nourish like spinach, carrots, bananas, beans, plantains, etc.,. All of this is introduced as soon as the doctor allows solid food.

“Food is not just about fuel and sustenance. It’s about people and places and the history behind those people and places. It’s about a mood, a specific time and place coupled with a specific emotion…”

Throughout the class, one question that keeps coming up time and time again is: What makes for a happy, satisfied and memorable meal? Is it the people we share it with? the emotions and memories it evokes long after the experience is gone? Is it a specific time and place? I am inclined to think it is all of the above.  Food can carry so much memories, so much meaning fueled with faces and places and emotions. In class, we are encouraged to use all of our senses when writing a piece of food review.

Our third class was about food photography. For this class, our teacher prepared a tray full of all kinds of sins worthy of a game of throne gathering. Here is a pic below. It is not one of my best because we were pressed for time and my phone was dying:

Mood: “A lazy Friday night in with sex on the menu and possibly a few episodes of Game of thrones…”

Taste: “This bread right here tasted like the first day of Spring after a long harsh winter…” and yes I am on a low-carb diet 🙂

I came to this class to better my writing and instead it’s been like a trip down memory lane and a reminder of my roots. Our exchange in class makes me realize food is one of the few small pleasures we can all enjoy to some degree. A way to make life more full and happy. Since starting the class, I try to be more appreciative of what I eat and enjoy it a bit more more and not rush it. I am also happy to report writing scenes demanding a  great deal of description  in my novel has gotten a lot better and easier. I now feel like I have the right tools to progress in the right direction.

Thank you for passing by and don’t forget to comment, like or share this article. Gros bisoux!

 

 

 

What returning to work feels like after one week of vacay

“It literally felt like drinking cod liver oil on an empty stomach.”

Before you ask yourself what all the drama is about, I urge you to remember that being a Libra, I am the queen of drama :). Give me five minute by a window and a good cup of tea and I can convince myself I am the queen of England.

Today I returned to work after a sweet, sweet, week off. It literally felt like drinking cod liver oil on an empty stomach. I was starting to enjoy having full 24-hour days all to myself. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the people I work  with and my work too, to some extent, because I am extremely good at it but it was hard. I felt like I was just starting to relax a little and then it was all over 🙂

But then once I got there and got to mingle with my co-workers once again, it felt like home. I realized these are really nice people and it felt good to get back in the swings of things.

So to cheer myself up, I decided to do my favorite version of a happy color combination with a red turtleneck and big thick hoops in a bright metal.

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I wish I had a couple of good pics of the whole outfit but dear husband was starting to show teeth and gums (read not happy) after the 15th :”Let’s try this again, honey”. Mind you, it was after a long day at home nursing the beginning of a cold. I know what you’re thinking: “Asking a sick man to snap pics of you, how cruel!” I must admit my higher self was cringing but my vain lower self got the best of me. I have a shoot scheduled in the beginning of November so all is well. I am also thinking of setting up a home studio to start practicing my photography skills. We’ll see!

All in all, I am happy to have a job to return to. I just wish I could write this with more conviction though 🙂

Thank you for passing by. 🙂 Don”t forget to like, comment or share any writing piece on this space to your heart’s content :). Have a wonderful week my lovely friends:)

Hairdresser from hell made me look like a baby dinosaur

I remember it like it was yesterday when I call to book that hair appointment. I had been thinking about a drastic haircut for a while now. This time I had told myself I wanted to look completely different. A real departure from my usual self. I wanted to feel elevated and posh (Insert pink champagne emoji here). It just happened I used to pass by a certain hair salon all the time on my way to work. To be truthful it looked a bit posh with people coming out of there looking like retired models. I guess I was hoping some of that chic vibe would rub on me. Go figure…

“I could already see myself walking out of there finally looking like my higher self: long, lean, with hair that could double up as a parachute if needs be (I never seem to have enough volume)……..”

 When I called to make the appointment, the clerk made it a point to let me know that the person who does my type of hair is part owner of the salon and does mostly photo shoots and big projects with the likes of artists and such. In other words, I should feel grateful he even accepted to touch my mere mortal head (at this point I am feeling rather emotional and grateful). Fast forward a few days later and I am sitting at the salon waiting for the haircut of my life. First of all, the assistant who shampooed my hair acted like my scalp was made of broken  glass. Although I like a bit of a scrub, I refrained from mentioning it for fear of sounding like I usually get my hair washed by Shrek. After the shampoo she announced the “coiffeur” won”t be long. After her departure, I sat there conscious my life was about to change forever, a historical moment so to speak. Well, my life was about to change all right. 

 “I came in looking like a law abiding citizen and came out looking like a baby dinosaur who just survived a hurricane”

 Finally, the headmaster deigned to gratify my mere mortal broke self of his presence. He looked rather annoyed, like a true artist who’s forced to earn a living while waiting for ‘his art’ to sustain him. I suppose I was not his type of clientele. Nevertheless, he “sucked it up” and got to work. When I tried to show him a few pics I had brought, he silenced me with with a raised eyebrow. I felt as intimidated as if I had interrupted a famous painter. When he finally finished what he probably thought was his “work of art “, he let out a big sigh.  Then and only then did I dare look in the mirror. Shocking. I no longer looked like I belonged in the human species. In fact, I looked like a baby dinosaur who just survived a hurricane.

I was so shocked I didn’t say anything for a good little while. He was beaming. I had become “his creation”. I briefly thought about crying but realized with such a haircut, I would probably look even worse (read: deranged baby dinosaur). I ran my fingers through the few strands of hair I had left and mustered enough courage to ask him how he thought I should style it. His answer: “Just let it do its thing”. My answer: “Ah, I see..”. I had expressed interest in a set of comb upon my arrival, he graciously gifted it to me. He might have realized I was this close to commit murder. Confused, I said thank you and rushed home where I spent the rest of the evening alternating between moments of staring at myself in the mirror trying to look like a cute baby dinosaur  and moments of intense cursing out loud.  

My advice: If you’re not used to the hairdresser and you’re going for a drastic cut, go progressively. This way if the first haircut doesn’t work out you can at least leave your house. Second: Ask to see their work (Obvious, right? Well, apparently not cause I didn’t do any such things…) Did I mention I was a sucker for eccentric and weird human beings? Well, now you know.  I suppose that’s what you get when you have a penchant for incompetent people masquerading as eccentric artists…

What about you lovely readers? I’ d love to hear your own experience…

Thank you very much for liking, commenting and sharing this article and gros bisoux:)

 

Favorite brunch places in Laval: Allô! mon coco

Who needs a getaway when your food looks that good? Welcome to Allô! mon coco! The one we went to is located in Centropolis, Laval.

“Doesn’t this make you feel like you’ve landed in a resort buffet?”

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Allô! mon coco brunch

Brunch culture is extremely strong in Laval and Montreal. So much so it is akin to real punishment to have breakfast at home on weekends. For me at least :). Although we’ve tapered off quite a bit, we try to do at least one brunch every two weeks either on Saturday or Sunday. I usually prefer Saturday which leaves me with Sunday to help my body recover from the food induced coma of the previous day.

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Allô! mon coco breakfast

What to wear:

It is brunch not a visit with the Dalai Lama so it’s okay to look like your growling stomach got you out of bed. Just do it in a stylish way 🙂 The last thing you want is for you to just happen to meet an old friend with your hair looking like a snake pit. In which case I sincerely advise you to hide behind whatever you can find, human or object. I’ve clearly thought about everything, thank me later 🙂

Portions:

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Judging by this pic, it is obvious portions are gigantic with plenty of choice. No risk being bored here. It’s also fairly delicious too.

Who to bring: Just about anybody as long as they are paying for you :). It is family friendly. There are long lines but service is efficient. They have plenty of locations all over Montreal as well.

Price: Reasonable

The last time we went I was able to resist their big side of potato. I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult that was. Their mash potato is so good it should be illegal.  I comforted myself in the fact I had great discipline and courage…but not for long…

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My self-righteous omelet:)

I felt both victorious and bitter. On one hand I was glad I resisted but on the other hand I felt bitter looking at dear husband enjoying his side of potato sitting right besides me. He didn’t even have the decency to pretend he wasn’t enjoying it. All in all, it was a pretty well-spent Saturday.

Bisous and talk next week!

 

 

 

Great weekend activities around Montréal: A nice walk in the Oka park

A lovely afternoon in the park…

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Don’t we look lovely here?

The morning started out nice enough. Dear husband was in a nice mood so I told myself “Fabienne what better moment to suggest a nice little walk in the park than now”:

Me: “How about a quick shower followed by brunch and then a nice walk in Mount Royal park?” dear Husband agreed at the first  two and barked at the “walk in the park” part.

Hubby: “What’s with you and that park, it’s turning into a real obsession, you know?”

Me: “Well, we all have our little obsessions, don’t we? Plus I like it because we can get a good workout with the stairs. It adds some challenge”. But apparently not everybody is looking for a challenge on a nice Saturday morning. Some people rather stay in bed. shocking I know…

Hubby: “How about the other park, the Centre de la nature?”

Me: “No, I prefer Mount Royal? The other one is always full of moms and toddlers and babies and strollers and flies, etc”.

Husband: “Well, they need fresh air too, you know. But I suppose they could stay home on weekends to give you more room to wiggle! How about Oka Park?”

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We got ready in record time, got through brunch and made it to the park in record time. I am at my happiest in nature and with plenty of sun. The Park Oka is such a nice gem. From where we live it’s about 45 min drive. There’s an entrance fee. There’s also the beach on the other side. The last time we went to that beach was in 2014 when we first met. How time flies…. I’ve seen couples with babies and small children and I am not sure how much of a good idea it is but I suppose if they’re used to it there should be no problem.

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An insect repellent of some sort is mandatory as well as proper hat and sunglasses. Lots of annoying and vicious mosquitoes. For those obsessed with hitting their 10000 steps a day, you’ll be served. With the mosquitoes hurrying you, you’ll have no problem hitting that goal. In fact, you might even set a new record…

Once we hit 5000 steps, I suggested to dear husband that we start retracing our steps. Dear husband assures me with the confidence of a pioneer:”We just need to keep going and we’ll hit the end of the park and get to the parking lot”. Since I am not good with direction I trust him. 7000 steps later, we hit the end of the park except there no exit. We had to cross the entire park again in the opposite direction to get to the exit or whatnot.

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Upon learning that cold truth, my sense of adventure failed me and I found myself haunted by visions of people stranded on deserted islands and dying of thirst and hunger. To top it all off a suicidal mosquito decides to flap its little wings straight into my right eye.

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Initially I worried we wouldn’t be able to hit 10 000 steps but with our “misfortune” we made it well past 14 000. The sun was already going down which seemed to bring out the most vicious breed of mosquitoes. But thanks to the help of  these “lovely” mosquitoes, we made it rather quickly to the other end of the park, just under an hour.

On our way back we stopped by the Magasin de l’Abbaye d’Oka. We bought some cheese and saucissons. They have all sort of delicious little goods up there. In my book a stop at this Abbaye either before attempting the Oka park or after is simply mandatory. Life is about balance: Cheese with 10000 steps:)

It was a very enjoyable walk. Lots of fresh air. We highly recommend. Bisoux!

 

Timeless summer outfits: What to wear when you look tired

My favorite summer outfit is a combination of blue and white. This is a combination I particularly affectionate on mornings when I need to look bright and perky but feel tired and worn out.

“…When I dress in blue and white I literally feel like the star feature in a toothpaste commercial…”

 

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At the beginning of summer I had a photoshoot done by a professional photographer and let me tell you I now have a new level of respect and admiration for people whose full time job involves “posing”…the whole story will be for another post with pics to boot…

“The combination of blue and white can make you look like you spend your day surfing and munching on dry fish and blueberries. It can also make you like a tax collector.”

I remember coming to the shoot location and the lovely photographer asked me:”So what’s the story behind this shoot?'” and I am like: “Story? What do you mean!!?”. She replied: “Well , yeah what do you want to say with the shoot?”. Well, I thought to myself: “Look at me, I am pretty…?”. Unfortunately I couldn’t say that out loud. She sat there patiently waiting with an encouraging smile. When it became clear that I was struggling, she then offered: “Well, why did you chose this specific outfit this morning?” I thought for a little bit then I said “Well, because I find blue and white so fresh and clean, you know when you feel tired and you have to be up super early on a Saturday for a shoot (By the way I felt like a real model saying that :))”. Needless to say she had a point. There is always a story.

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Nothing says fresh and bright-eyed like the combination of blue and white whatever material you chose although I do have a soft spot for blue denim and white tee. Of course depending on your complexion you can chose to replace the white tee with either an of-white or cream colored one but white will work with most complexions. When I dress in blue and white I literally feel like the star feature in a toothpaste commercial.

These two accessories have become my go to for summer either layered as shown here in the pic below or as stand alone.

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In the pic below I chose to break the blue and white with a floral jacket to add a bit of sophistication to the entire look. On a side note I absolutely loved these braids and it’s a shame I took them out.

IMG_7582_resizeWell I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I always feel so shallow when I say stuff like that 🙂 Talk soon!

On being a woman and the uphill battle with body hair….

“…Being a woman is worse than being a farmer – There is so much harvesting and crop spraying to be done: legs to be waxed, underarms shaved, eyebrows plucked, feet pumiced, skin exfoliated and moisturized, spots cleansed, roots dyed, eyelashes tinted, nails filed, cellulite massaged, stomach muscle exercised. The whole performance is so highly tuned you only need to neglect it for a few days for the whole thing to go to seed. Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if left to revert to nature – with a  full beard and handlebar mustache on each shin….”

Currently reading Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ diary and I almost died of laughter when I read that quote.

How many times have we, as women, asked ourselves the same question as Bridget? I have often felt as if I am fighting a losing battle in which my body hair holds all the winning cards. In fact, when it comes to body hair my husband and I often have these type of conversation:

Husband: “Going to the doctor?”

Me: “No, why?”

Husband: “Well, your legs are smooth and you’re all shaved and everything…”

Me looking at him intensely trying to remember why I ever married in the first place.

Husband: “These days you only shave when going to the doctor.”

Me: “That’s a lie, I shave regularly!”

Husband: “Except in Winter… Are you trying to grow your own fur?”

Me: “Oh shut up!”

“…I just can’t help but associate laser hair removal with images of a possessed Light saber angrily swinging above my precious and very private body parts….”

At that point, since I wanted to remain married I chose to ignore the man. After all, being single again would undoubtedly mean — and this time around the clock — more waxing, shaving, tweezing and plucking than ever before just to get back in the saddle as quickly as possible.

But really why is body hair okay for men and borderline disgusting for women? When you stop and think for a second, it is actually pretty twisted to want a fully grown female body to be free of all body hair?

“When I think of all the time I spent plucking out every single hair off of my body, I could have easily earn another degree”

Of course I could also go the laser hair removal route but for some reason I just can’t help but associate laser hair removal with images of a possessed lightsaber angrily swinging above my precious and very private body parts…

Whatever reasons pushed us into such behavior in the past, I am sure it’s all over now. Still most of us keep plucking away. Why do we women keep doing this to ourselves? Do we do it because we think it’ll make us more attractive? Do we do it because it has been done for so long that it has now become the norm in our society? Do we do it to fit in? God forbid we’re part of the select group of women proudly sporting a mustache on the planet (Insert shivering outcast emoji here). I am quite sure culture also play a big part in the equation…..

The mystery remains said the woman who’s about to shave her legs and many other sensitive body parts for the millionth times…..