A large part of the reason why I travel anywhere is food.  When I get somewhere, the first thing I want to do is eat.  Prague is not an ideal destination for this–as a vegetarian, I’m mainly limited to the already-mentioned fried cheese.  While it’s good, it’s not something to eat every day.  If I was going to move somewhere else, it would have to be somewhere with good food.  One of my favorite memories from Italy is a meal I had in Rome.  Bruschetta, pasta with olive oil, cheese and pepper, and prosecco.  Erica, Allison and I ate around ten our first night at a tiny restaurant in Trastevere, down a winding back street dotted with glowing bars and bicycles locked up for the night.  From Thailand, I remember the tiny coconut milk cakes that you could buy in the markets.  They were so hot when you got them that you would invariably burn your tongue, but it was worth it.  Sometimes they were sweet, sometimes dotted with chives or sweet corn.  If I ever saw those at home, I would camp out in front of the restaurant.  Sadly, I don’t think they’ve ever made it outside of the realm of street food.

France, though…I don’t know where to begin with France.  Any country that values both their cheese and their desserts so highly deserves to be at the top of the list.  A few weeks ago, Heidi and I spent roughly 40 hours in Paris, and I would estimate that about three-quarters of that time was spent eating or staring at food.  And so, without further adieu (wordplay!), here are some pictures of food in France, plus one of the Eiffel Tower.  It’s Paris, after all.

Beautiful purple artichokes

Hot chocolate (somewhat oddly named L’Africain) from Angelina

Macarons in chocolate, caramel, strawberry and pistachio

Bread at a boulangerie

Fresh bread, five types of cheese, and wine made by Maud’s uncle

I’m sorry it’s been a while since I updated.  Somehow the last few weeks have really gotten away from me, which I guess could be either a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

My birthday last week was lovely.  My coworkers brought me flowers and tiramisu, and after my book club meeting I went out with some friends for dessert at one of my favorite restaurants.  That being said, I don’t know how much I like being twenty-three–I feel like perhaps I should be doing something more important than a temporary proofreading job.  Then again, I guess this is the time for temporary jobs.

On a completely separate topic, I walk past these strange statues every day, and I’ve been meaning to take a picture of them for Kathryn, my cat-lady friend.  (In case you can’t tell, this is a cat dressed up as a sailor.)  They’re carved out of chocolate, and there is no explanation given as to why the cats all appear to be very, very drunk.

I’ve been doing a lot of food-related things lately, which are, of course, some of my favorite things to do.  Heidi and I have made apple cider doughnuts, lots of curry, and most recently, gingerbread apple upside-down cake. We also ventured out into the Prague suburbs to visit Little Hanoi, the Vietnamese neighborhood, where we had noodle soup. It was wonderful, even if the area itself was a little unnerving. I don’t think I would visit there after dark, meaning after 4 o’clock here during Prague winter…

I come home in just over three weeks, and I’m so excited to see everyone who will be in Chicago. I think having a chance to see the people that I’ve known forever will help fortify me to get through January and February, which are, by all accounts, pretty miserable here. But you know, positive thinking and whatnot. I’ll try to keep more up to date on this blog, since keeping in touch with people will also make surviving the winter easier.

I’m so, so tired. I’m two weeks behind on responding to anyone’s emails (sorry!), I’m behind on my book club book, I keep messing up the scarf I’m trying to knit, I’m just tired. But it’s not really a bad thing. Actually, the last two weeks have been pretty HPIM2260good.

1. I found peanut butter. Actually, I think what I should say is, I found Marks & Spencers. It’s so much cheaper here than it is in London. I nearly cried when I went in for the first time a couple of weekends ago. They have tea biscuits, and parmesan cheese, and smooth AND crunchy peanut butter. And I can afford all of those things.

2. I spent almost a week in London with my mom, and got to eat a lot of really good food and see this exhibit, which was great.  She also brought me 7 pounds of brown sugar, a bottle of vanilla extract, sea salt, two cans of pumpkin, and peanut butter M&Ms.

3. I found a dog!  I had her for one night, and I called her Sadie.  She was really sweet, but I knew I had to find her real owner.  I was walking her to the police station the morning after I found her, because they can scan her for a microchip, and we ran into her real owner.  He said that she had wandered away when she was in the park, and that they have two small kids, so I’m glad she’s back with her family.  But here she is curled up on my bed.HPIM2258

4. I also have a dog to dog-sit.  His name is Sparky, and we’re going to watch him when his owner has to work late nights and weekends and doesn’t want to leave him alone in the house.

5. I come home in 48 days.

HPIM2106The Czech Republic is not a country that caters to vegetarians.  Or, perhaps it would be better to say that it is a country intent on making its vegetarians fat, perhaps to shame them into eating meat.  At a traditional Czech restaurant, you will find two, maybe three non-meat items on the menu.  They are: fried cheese, fried mushrooms or cauliflower, and hermelin, which is something like camembert pickled with herbs.  I’m not complaining about this, really.  I love the fried cheese, or smažený sýr. It’s something I have to consciously tell myself not to order every time I go out to eat, because I’m fairly certain that not only would I be rather large, I’d also feel pretty sick.  Czech restaurants also regularly feature traditional entertainment, like these two gentlemen, playing Czech music.  The downside to this is that it gets so loud that you can’t have a conversation anymore.

The number of restaurants in Prague is really astounding.  Almost any nationality you can imagine is represented–last night, I HPIM2105had Indian food better than anything I’ve ever had at home, and the Vietnamese food is spectacular.  (There’s a large Vietnamese expat population.)  It’s so cheap to eat out here that it’s tempting to do it for every meal, and again, it’s something that I have to consciously force myself not to do.  As a result, though, I haven’t been cooking or baking as much as I usually do.  Part of this is because of my kitchen.  We have a minifridge.  For three people.  It’s seriously not bigger than what you would have in a dorm room.  Also, I can’t read the ingredients at the store.  However, I did figure out where the flour and yeast are, and I’ve been baking loaf after loaf of French bread.  And eating it all myself, which is a problem.  I want to make dessert soon, though, and it needs to be something that doesn’t involve brown sugar or very much vanilla, and something that doesn’t require a mixer.  I can mix a lot of things by hand, but meringue, for instance, is out.

Suggestions, anyone?

And, as a bonus, here is a picture of two serious European hipster mullets:HPIM2103