In the last post, I promised to tell you about my “situation” here in France. “On y go” or let’s go!
I am currently an English assistant in Brest, France.
What is involved in being an English assistant in France you might ask? It involves 12 strenuous hours a week teaching French teens that “No, I do not personally know 50 Cent(s) or Snoop Dogg (pronounced Doug in French)”. Nor do I eat McDonald’s for every meal while carrying a gun and sitting in a Hummer nor any other French misconceptions of a typical American.
Next, you might be asking yourself, where exactly is Brest, France? Brest (all sorts of puns intended) is the western most point in France located in Bretagne, or Brittany for you Anglophones. More specifically, Brest is located in the département (county) Finistère, which translates to End of the Earth. Literally, Brest is at the End of the Earth. You look out into the Atlantic Ocean and you suddenly realize that those old sailors who thought the earth was square and the ocean dropped off might actually have been right.
Brest itself needs no introduction. When I tell a French person who does not live in Bretagne that I live in Brest, they usually say the following in any order:
- Oh, it rains there a lot.
- Oh, it got bombed by the Allies in World War II.
- Oh, “c’est triste comme ville”. Translation: Oh, it’s a sad and depressing, reinforced concrete mass bombed by the Allies in WWII.
Although the city seems to fit the stereotypes, I have grown accustomed to, and even like the persistent rain, the perpetual greyish light where the sun should be, and the monotone wash of concrete buildings.
As it turns out, I live in one of those washed out concrete buildings. Imagine if you will, a 1960’s era post-industrial prison. 100% concrete, small nondescript windows with steel bars across them…kidding about the steel bars! Now imagine that this prison has been converted into one of France’s largest high school complexes, serving almost 8,000 students. This is where I live.
I have a 6th floor penthouse chambre or chamber as I affectionately call it. It is a 12×12 square room, made out of concrete, painted asylum yellow, and I absolutely LOVE it. In this square, I have everything that I need. A double bed, desk, pantry, dresser, bookshelf, refrigerator, sink, and of course, two burners and a toaster oven. Moreover, the school gave me this room for the price of free. My prized bicycle is stashed in the hallway, I have a full set of utensils/cookware, a pantry full of pastries and Nutella (God’s gift to humans), and a refrigerator full of fresh goodies. At the moment, life seems good to me.
Despite its lack of visual character, Brest is famous for its top notch seafood, buckwheat crêpes/galettes, and the creamiest/most delicious/artery clogging butter in the world. Follow me as I explore cooking with minimal space/appliances. Even if you don’t have a Top Chef kitchen, there is always enough space to make good, quality food. Below, I have a set of pictures to give you an idea of my room and the circumstances I cook in.
And when Brest does get me down, there is always plenty of butter to make me feel much, much better.