until last weekend i had never been to paris before.  i had made a few brief stops in paris on the train to provence, but i had never been in the city.  now that i have spent a whopping three days in the city of lights i can report that i liked it.  it's beautiful and the food is delicious.  well, much of the food is delicious.  on our first night i ordered something called an andouillette.  i knew it was a sausage, but i was not aware of the details.  since the french are obviously known for their cuisine, i was certain that i wanted something decidedly french.  when i took my first bite i was shocked and surprised by how strong the flavor was.  it wasn't bad.  it was smokey, rich, and very distinct.  then i chewed.  and chewed.  and chewed.  you see, andouillette is a sausage made from coarsely chopped bits of stomach and intestine.  wikipedia says, "their strong smell can be reminiscent of feces and may offend people unaccustomed to the dish."  mine didn't smell like feces, but i got sick of it very quickly.  marleen suggested that i order something else, but i insisted on not being a wuss, and i ate the whole thing.  i didn't want to be the foolish tourist who couldn't handle the local cuisine.  instead i was the foolish tourist who forced himself to eat what was paid for.  it was quite a chore, but no one was injured.

speaking of cuisine, i watched a BBC program about the normans last night.  i sought this program out because i was told by another bloke named jim turbert (i know of three including myself) that turbert is a norman name.  anyway, it is because of the normans that the english language is so diverse.  in 1066 england was conquered by normans who had settled in northern france (normandy) for a long time, and they brought the french language with them.  when they took over, thousands of french derived words were added to the english language.  interesting, eh?  i thought so.

our paris goals were not to see as much as we could in a short period of time.  we wanted to relax, and see some stuff, and not stress out if we couldn't see all of the splendors of the city.  so , we did not go into the louvre.  we thought that would not be relaxing.  we did hit several of the outdoor attractions including the eiffel freaking tower.  i've wanted to see the eiffel tower forever, and it was not disappointing.  we went inside to enjoy the fantastic view, but walking around it and staring at it from different angles was more rewarding.  its awesomeness is magnified by the fact that there is nothing remotely as large in its proximity.  giant skyscrapers are impressive, but imagine how insane it would be to see the empire state building standing alone in a field rather than in a city block surrounded by other large buildings.  shit is crazy.  the eiffel tower is super cool.

so yeah, we'll probably go back to paris sometime.  i suppose i have to go inside the louvre to do battle with the masses of crazies who want to snap digital pictures of the mona lisa.  i suppose i should also go inside notre dame.  there are lots of things we didn't do, but our trip was relaxed, and everything we did was quality except for the andouillette.



goddamn.  while delivering mail a few weeks ago i was both rained on and hailed on.  it was not awesome, but i was invited in for a cup of tea.  the hail started, and i ducked into someones bike shed to cover myself (and the mail).  i figured it would last a few minutes, and i would continue.  kids inside the house saw me, and started pointing.  then their mom invited me in for tea.  it was lovely.  we conversed in dutch as much as i could, and then i went back out into the rain once the hail subsided.  fortunately, the sun came out for the last part of my route, so i warmed up a bit.

another postman related note, one of the people on my route is named hermanus hoogendonk.  i know it is juvenile to make of someones name, and it is not my intention to make mister hoogendonk feel bad, but to me (and probably most americans) hermanus hoogendonk sounds like the hapless victim of a villain in a fairy tale.  i wonder what jim turbert sounds like to him.

when i was a child i was made fun of because of my last name.  i got into quite a bit of trouble because of it.  older kids would tease me, and i got to the point where i didn't want to take it anymore, so i attacked them.  i was a pretty big kid, so the older kids weren't much bigger than me, but i was waaaay less coordinated than them.  it wasn't pretty.  fortunately, by the time my reflexes caught up with my large body i wasn't in the habit of attacking people for teasing me any longer, otherwise i would have gotten into far more trouble.  so please, hermanus, don't attack me.  i am not making fun of you.   my intention is to make my readership, as small as it is, aware of your name so they can better appreciate naming diversity.

tomorrow i'll tell you about my recent trip to paris.  it was delightful.



I don't particularly enjoy the act of baking, but I truly enjoy the end product.  Eating delicious baked goods is one of the greatest things in life.  I realize that pancakes aren't really baked goods, but since living in Holland, I've been making pancakes every weekend.  I have only baked one pie, but two cakes have been baked, a few batches of cupcakes, a handful of banana breads, and countless batches of cookies.  Seriously, I've baked so many cookies since living here, I could open a bakery.  It is entirely unhealthy.  
For awhile I was obsessed with pudding as well.  My first batch was banana, then I made several batches of butterscotch.  I ate some really great butterscotch pudding while visiting my friend Ed in Minneapolis a few years ago.  It was so good.  My butterscotch pudding was good, but not as good as the stuff from Minneapolis.  I was using the recipe from "The Joy of Cooking."  It was bit more jelly than I wanted it to be.  I wanted smoother and creamier pudding.  My banana pudding was pretty creamy, but Marleen is not as partial to bananas as I am, so I didn't revisit that one.  My friend Ronan is both lactose intolerant and allergic to gluten, so I made him a coconut milk based pudding with a corn starch thickener once.  It was quite good, though a bit rich, and more jelly than I would have liked.  As I mentioned before, I prefer a creamier pudding.
If I were asked, I would say that my best pudding was a rich, creamy, and delicious chocolate pudding.  I've made it a few times, and the texture is perfect, and it is super tasty.  Each time I made pudding I was hoping for a giddy excited reaction, but instead my creations were met with indifference.  This isn't a direct quote, but once Marleen said something along the lines of, "Chocolate mousse is so much better than pudding."  
Despite the somewhat uncalled for and ungrateful chocolate mousse remark, my baked goods are typically well received.  Marleen always eats them.  Other visitors seem pleased when eating them.  Most importantly, I always enjoy eating them.  Life is much better with delicious baked goods or other desserts.  I'm not sure if I'm going to make anything this evening,  but I assure you that I want to.