January 15, 2012

Frenchification

There are things every American should do in Paris. Things like...

1) Pretend you know Notre Dame is on an island.
2) Browse the Musée du Louvre for the 2 (maybe 3) pieces of art you actually recognize.
3) Run into people you went to college with on top of the Eiffel Tower.

Okay, the last one might just be what happens to me, but really, if it can happen to me, it can happen to most of you, too.

Then there are the things "every American" doesn't plan for - these things, ladies and gentlemen, are part of our Frenchification.

It's the places where no one holds a map in public. People speak to you in French because only French speakers are there. Tourism disappears and real life breathes its charm in the way that seeps into your skin - to live with you forever.

We have experienced quite a bit of Frenchification: a wine exposition, volleyball club Christmas party, the local "we-know-the-owner" restaurant, and so on. We are both wearing nicer clothes on more regular occasions. We have these sweet "Navigo" passes that directly eliminate us from the tourist pack on the metro. And sitting with only French people during our cruise meals was no small thing either!

But the most authentic piece of Frenchification we have been privy to this year was far and away the New Year's Eve party.

My team captain, Julie, invited us to the home of her boyfriend's parents in Northwest Paris for the evening/morning. It took about 3 seconds for Marc and me to agree this was our coolest option for the holiday and we accepted.

Julie told me 2 things: New Year's Eve is always the best and most elaborate dinner of the year in France, and to wear whatever I wanted. I countered this second claim with, "Really. Are you sure? Like I can wear sweats?" (Side note: I was not really going to wear sweats, this was simply to make a point that this was not a "come as you are" type of party.) The answer was more along the lines of whatever dress I wanted to wear.

The dinner and company did not disappoint! I realized it was probably a wrong move allowing this dinner to be the first time Marc ever had a real French meal at someone's home, but we didn't have much of a choice on that one! Course after course kept coming, all perfectly portioned and ready to eat. My personal favorites were the first appetizers, which were all in small one-size serving dishes, and combinations of cheeses, cucumbers, and fish options. I am finally able to appreciate cucumbers when associated with salmon and cream cheese.

After the longest meal of our lives, the games began. And yes, Cranium, Taboo, and Charades are still epic-ly AWESOME even when you have no idea what is being said. Marc lasted until 2:30am, and the rest of us braved it until 4:00am before falling into the various sleeping arrangements for 10 people all over a Parisian house.

I want every New Year's Eve to be like this one for the rest of my life. We reaffirmed current friendships and made new ones. We had great laughs, great food, and great games. We are so blessed to be included by our French friends, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Keep it coming, France!

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