Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Chicken Cheat

One day I saw some chickens on promotion in a supermarket. A whole chicken is usually sold at around 10€ (depending on the weight), so at 4.65€, it was considered a bargain. I sensed that there was a trap, so I checked the price closely, and I realized these were chicken expiring in two three days, so it made sense to have lower price to me.

I went to check out , and saw that they charged me 9.24€ instead of 4.65€. I immediately went to the reception area to inform them that there must be a mistake. I didn't have the promotion photo with me then, so they called the person responsible for meat products. They later told me that only chicken expiring in one day would have promotion. I couldn't accept this explanation, but I didn't have the courage to return the chicken. I had to leave to pick the girls, so I left feeling cheated.

Later on I informed a friend, she told me that I was such a newbie in grocery shopping. She said that shops always have these kind of promotions to catch your eyes, but if you read carefully, the price must be per/kilo and not per chicken.

I was so pissed at myself that I decided to go back to the store. It just happened that the swimming class was canceled so I brought the girls to MerryGoAround then went back to check out the promotion tag. Indeed, the tag has a small word saying that the price applied to chicken around 1.4kg.

But the chicken I bought was only around 1.2 kg so it should be cheaper than 4,65€! Later I checked the promotion photo, all of the chicken I can see the price tag indicated 4.65€/Kg instead of 4.65€ for around 1.4 kg. It was clearly a trap for the consumers. During the night I was going to report this to a consumer association, but couldn't find any that I could just send an email or call. I decided to rest the case, but I did learn a lesson. Next time, return the item if the price doesn't meet my interpretation! Stores are really full of traps these days.

When in Rome, the Romans are doing things differently?

When I have to make an decision on something that involves my children, I usually try to follow the principal : when in Rome, do as the Romans do. My children live here and thus have to practice the French culture.

But sometimes, even French are doing things differently.

Over the years, I have had disagreements with hubby regarding Christmas, more specifically the lying part of the Santa Claus. I do not like to lie to my kids. I don't think it was necessary to buy gifts for them just for the sake of buying. Hubby told me that this was part of the culture. After talking to people around, I reluctantly go with the flow, seeing how happy my kids were when they see Santa Claus or when they received gifts.

Regarding Santa Claus, when Aelig was two years old, my FIL dressed as Santa, rang the bell, entered the house with a bunch of presents. She kind of recognized him, so the following years, we asked someone else to do the job. Last Christmas, since the celebration was held in our house, I asked around my neighborhood. I was hoping to find a neighbor to be Santa for our kids, and in return hubby would do the same for the neighbor's kids. It sounded perfect until I contacted my neighbors.

"Oh, our kids don't believe in Santa Claus!" We could do it for your kids, but that's not necessary for our kids. I was stunt. Their kids were 6 and 4. Most French kids at this age still believe in Santa. Later I found out that the neighbor's father was so disappointed to discover that there was no Santa, that he decided to stop the Santa fantasy for his kids. So my neighbor was not grown up expecting Santa like most of the kids.

"Oh, our kids don't believe in Santa anymore!" Claimed the other neighbor. Their kids were 6, 4, and 2 years old. I was overwhelmed. Are we the only family still let our kids dream about Santa? 

I asked another family, they were going to be away, so not possible to be our Santa. I had no choice but had to ask the neighbor who had not believed in Santa all his life, to be Santa for our kids on Christmas Eve.

And why on Christmas Eve? Awena came home one day saying that in school, her teacher told the class that they would go to sleep on Christmas Eve, and the next morning, they will discover the presents delivered by Santa the night before. This was never the case in our family. Santa comes earlier to our place on Christmas Eve.

All these details don't matter anymore. I did it for the sake of my three year old. The eight year old told her little sister one day that Santa doesn't exist. I bite my tongue and say nothing. Her little sister insisting that Santa exists, that she got this and that from him last year. So, I would just let her dream continues.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Christmas 2017 : My man and his dishes

This year we hosted the Christmas celebration in our place. We had 6 people joining us. It meant a lot of cooking, and sleeping arrangement.

Hubby's mind was concentrated on fine cuisine in early December. During the weekends, he browsed through websites to get ideas, and tried out dishes and desserts. 

On Christmas Eve, he spent almost the whole day in the kitchen. Here he was preparing the first dish.

 The first dish was served : puff pastry topping with apples and foie-gras.

 The first type of verrine : beet mousse

 Dressing the second dish : salmon with crab meats and cream cheese

 Second dish served.

 The second type of verrine : Shrimps with avocado mousse

 Dressing the third dish : scallop & leek on puff pastry

 Third dish served with two type of sauces 

At this point our guests complained that they were too full for more. We then switched to cheese.

By the time the desserts were served, it was already passed mid might. I was so tired that I went to sleep. Hubby prepared two type of Christmas cakes. One was with chocolate favor.

The second dessert with caramel favor.

During the weekends before Christmas, he tried out several site dishes. The results were disappointing so he abandoned them.

One weekend he prepared these five verrines for us. They were scrumptious so he served some of them during Christmas Eve, some on Christmas day. 

He wanted it to be perfect for the Christmas cake. So he did twice before Christmas. It looked and tasted good, unfortunately I was not a dessert person, and my girls didn't like it. So imagine, the chef had to eat every evening a slice of cake by himself, in order to finish it, before he tried again.

He got my total admiration on his determination and persistence on presenting the best dishes he could to serve our guests. There were a lot of stress as he had to prepare every dish until all the guests were gone. He did a very good job.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Did you use my mushroom?

I used to be the one buying groceries, preparing meals for the family. Sincerely, I know I did a poor job, and I didn't particularly enjoy it. I found myself always buying the same ingredients, making the same meals. Worst, I lost even the motivation to cook dishes I used to cook. My husband pointed out : he barely sees curry chicken, clay-pot chicken anymore.

Things just gradually changed. I needed to cook dishes that I know my kids would at least eat. And, time was pressing, after picking up kids from school, I didn't have much time nor energy left to prepare somethings more decent. 

Since I was the one buying grocery, there was a bookkeeping in my mind. We just finished this, we were running out of that, we needed to buy this, the kids demanded that. I was not used to plan ahead neither. I started planning dinner when I drove home, or the night before. And I remembered I had that and this ingredient left in the fridge.

Except that, it was mostly hubby who handled meals during the weekend. And sometimes he did complementary groceries for his own needs. I would complain : why did you buy bacon again? We had three packs sitting in the fridge! You know we had two bags of potatoes here, and you just bought the third one? Due to my complains, he would buy according to what I ask him to use in the fridge. But then it created another problem, I didn't know what he was going to cook, and when he was going to use the last pack of "lardon", I protested : No! I needed that for tomorrow dinner! He was so frustrated that he yelled at me : everything I do it's just wrong to you!

Then it comes this planning change, a change I welcomed with my heart. He decided to take care of the kids on Wednesdays (4/5ème). Now he works 4 days a week and I switched to full time. Since Awena goes to school as well, we can finally do the one parent sends them in the morning one parent pick them up at the evening model. I choose to send them because I'm not a morning person. Most of the time during the week, when I got home, the dinner is served. Except evenings when I work from home so would pick  them up right after school, and sometimes I prepare dinner.

But mainly, hubby handles grocery.
And what happened? The other day, I heard him saying : did you use my mushroom?
No I didn't.
He finished them without realizing.
Did you use my fish?
No I didn't.
The fish just went missing. We didn't know why.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

When all the chocolates are gone

On the 30th of November, one day before the kids were allowed to open their advent calendar, I saw that Awena had already took out 3 chocolates out of hers. Unlike her sister, she is just someone who doesn't listen to her parents. Hubby caught her hiding the chocolates in her room.

On the second day of December, six chocolates were gone, amid our warning that she would soon run out of it, and someday she would just see her sister eating chocolate while she has non. The warning didn't work, she refused even to open the box by date. She just randomly chose the boxes she wanted.

On the fourth day of December, she decided to open all the boxes, got out all the chocolates, and laid them on the floor.

On the 7th day of December, all the chocolates were eaten. Meanwhile, the big sister follows the rule, she patiently enjoys a chocolate per day.

Maybe that's because she's three that she doesn't understand things, or that's just her nature personality. She is just so different from her elder sister. When we said no to candy, the elder one was disappointed but did nothing. Whereas the younger one, she smiled at you, did nothing in front of you, but eventually you would find out that she ate a candle, at your back.

I hope things get improved. The house is a mess permanently and 80% of the damages came from her. She is just so unbearable. 

The arm broken witch

Didn't manage to finish this post earlier.
We are at Christmas season but I had something to record to myself about Halloween.
Halloween was not a big event in general in France. For example it didn't have the Halloween parades in most of the cities just like in  the US. Last year the kids were away, we got so many kids knocking on the doors that we were so fed up at the end. 

Can you see her arm cast? Well, she broke it the first day of school holidays, on the trampoline. It seemed ok at the beginning, but she cried during the night, her hand was swollen the second morning so hubby decided to call a doctor as it was a Saturday. In France, clinics do not open on weekends (except Saturday morning). A doctor came, declared broken bone in her wrist, and she was going to the emergency. Yeah, there was no other option, the girls were supposed to go after lunch with their grandparents, but instead she went with hubby to the emergency. Emergency here doesn't mean fast treatment, they waited for like 4 hours until someone finally entertained them. I have always wondered why people had to go to emergency for this kind of things. I mean it could totally be done by a small clinic, for radiography and putting the cast. But not, such clinics don't exist, so everyone with something broken would have to wait in emergency, after the personals treat life threatening cases and have some times for this kind of patients. 

My MIL prepared the costumes for them, and I think she did a good job. 

Finally our turn to go knock on our neighbors' door. Around half didn't answer, some answered but said they ran out of candies, or parents not at home....

Mostly they just want candies. I don't understand why we give kids so many candies, it was just another successful western marketing campaign I guess. 

Her arm cast lasted 6 weeks. She had to stop going to swimming classes and gymnastic training. She wrote and ate with her left hand, until when the cast was removed, she couldn't adjust back to using the right hand immediately. Overall, I felt that she was really brave, didn't fuss much about the inconvenient cast, I helped her wash, she mostly changed herself. At school, her classmates offered to jot down notes for her. I was so eager for it to be over, didn't like to see her in cast. Hubby said she got his gene, he broke many parts of his body when he was young. Well, I hope this is not true...

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

An authentic French restaurant

Once a week we eat out in a restaurant. Like I said yesterday, they are not much varieties in Nantes, we usually go for pizza, as French restaurants that would please us and not too pricey are hard to find.

There is one that we like just close to where we live. My eldest dislikes it though, at her age, she only goes for food she likes, not the atmosphere or the presentation.

My entrée. French cuisine emphasizes a lot on presentation. This was fish with avocado sauce.

Hubby's entrée : Fois gras 

My main course : scallop with squid

My dessert : pumpkin cake with chestnut sauce

We were 4 adults and 2 kids. Everyone ordered a menu of entrée + main course + dessert, and we had two rounds of appetizer. We also ordered a bottle of wine. All these costed us 180€. 

I mean, I can't afford to pay 30€/person every time we go out dining. Hubby said he paid around 13€/person when he eats lunch downtown Nantes. For sure there is a huge different on price between lunch and dinner + dining during weekend. French restaurants always come with some decorations, nice presentation on the plates, wines, sometimes cheeses, salads and coffees. All these factor in it becomes less affordable.

But, some time I only need a bowl of noodle soup, at a restaurant close by. That's another problem, restaurants are concentrated in downtown. Further from it you get pizza, couscous, Chinese buffet, or frozen foods that they warm up for you when you order. Not worth the price, that's why we prefer to eat at home most of the time.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Eat drink in Paris

When people tell me that Nantes is a Metropolitan city with lots of foreigners, I always keep silent. Sure it has lot of foreigners, but most of them are from the same continents, there are less diversity compare to like, Austin. In Austin, we had so many choices : Tex-Mex, BBQ, Cajun, Italian, French, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, African, you name it.

The restaurants in Nantes suck big time. They have less variety, more pricey and rigid business hours. For example, if you want to eat Dim Sum, you need to go to Paris. They don't even have ramen soups. The sushi is not as authentic. 

To enjoy my time in Paris to the fullest, I decided to go one day earlier before Eason's concert. As soon as we got off the train, we headed to a restaurant that sells different type of dumplings and dishes. The dumplings were made on the spot. And surprisingly, it was so cheap! We paid less than 10€ and we ate well. We ended up begging the boss to go open another restaurant in Nantes, that was how desperate we were.

It was a lovely day with sunshine. Paris seemed wonderful if you are not in rush. I decide to walk to enjoy the view.

In the evening, a friend brought us to savor ChongQing steamboat. I had never tried it before, but it warmed up the whole body, and my heart.

Walked to the Louvre to enjoy a cup of tea there.

The last day in Paris, I got some time to kill so I decided to go towards the Eiffel Tower. Then I met my friend in Chinatown to buy some groceries that I can't get in Nantes, and packed our lunch before heading to the train station. 

After this trip, we were so jealous at friends who live in Paris. They have so many restaurant choices and can eat at wee hours. I managed to have Korean lunch with my friend, had a bubble drink, but didn't have enough time to try out a restaurant that serves Chinese breakfast with soya milk, Chinese bun, and different type of tofu dishes. That would be for the next time.

Eason Chan in Paris 30 Oct 2017

Even though I live in France, I still prefer to listen to Mandarin and Cantonese songs. I was hoping one day I could go to see Faye Wong's concert in live. Well, she is half retired now, and there are not many Asian singers performing in France.

Never say never, it just happened one day a friend posted on WeChat that she was going to see Eason Chan's concert alone. I was so excited as I really love this singer, and I have never imagined that he would hold a concert in Paris (relatively smaller Chinese community compare to London, Canada, USA). I decided on the spot that I was going with her, and I dragged another friend to join us.

There you go, Eason's C'mon in Tour in Paris. I seldom read Chinese news here so I almost missed it.

My friend wanted to stand close to the stage to enjoy the atmosphere. So we bought standing ticket. She dragged me to queue 4 hours before the concert in order to get a good spot, closer to Eason. It was a cold evening. There were already 25 people in front of us when we arrived. Another friend arrived just in time to deliver us some Chinese buns as dinner. Around 5pm, Eason got down from a bus and some fans were going crazy. He entered quickly to the concert hall for rehearsal. The entrance was supposed to open at 6:30pm but it only opened at 7pm.

As soon as the doors opened, we rushed in, and managed to stand at the forth row right in front of the stage. We were packed like sardines. We were with a bunch of Chinese youngsters and overall they were well behaved. Except the man in hat. The girl behind him asked several times if he could just remove his hat when the concert started. He ignored her at the beginning, but eventually snapped with an answer "they are tall people in front of me, should I ask them to cut off their heads?" I was speechless. 

The concert started around 8:30pm. By that time, we were already standing for 4 hours and a half. My feet were sore, but people kept pushing. Anyway, I was elated to see him singing so close by. It was worth the wait, but it would be the last time. I'm too old to get crazy like this.

 Here was how the concert hall looked behind us. Right in front of the stage a place that could fit around one thousand people standing, my guess. Audiences with seat were on the first floor above us.

He sang lots of new songs, the concert ticket came with his new album.

When hubby saw the photos, he commented that Eason dressed poorly. Well, he sings well, that's the most important to me.

The concert finished around 10:30pm. We waited a bit as the organizer said he would sign our album. But we were chased out of the concert hall, so we decided to go for supper. A bowl of ramen soup at 11:15pm, you don't get to do this in Nantes!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

A scene in a bakery

It was hubby's birthday so I went to a bakery to buy a cake.
I was already not in good mood because my girls were fighting who got to choose the cake, and one decided to stay in the car.

I chose a cake that would suit the taste of most of the family members. The seller, with gloomy face, asked when I planned to eat it. I said soon, and she shook her head saying that it would be best eaten two hours later to let it defrost. I insisted to buy that cake but she was very reluctant. Instead she proposed me to buy some slices of similar cake which were in display. I can sense that I had no choice, she won't sell me the other cake anyway, beside I could choose different favors to please everyone. 

At this point, a man walked into the bakery. I was still in the middle of choosing and there was a woman beside me looking at the patisseries. The man walked directly to the cashier and asked to buy a baguette. The first seller, with gloomier face, pointed out that he was jumping queue, and that "ça se fait pas", meaning that we don't do this (jumping queue). The man apologized as he thought me and the woman beside me were together. The seller repeating that he can't do this, but the transaction was done, the cashier got the cash. Since the seller still bitching about it, the man got annoyed and raised his voice :"So what do you want me to do? Should I put back the baguette and queue again?" Then he left offended. 

I was all puzzled at this situation. Frankly it was not a big deal as we were still choosing. I was surprised at the way the seller pointed out the mistake, and how the man reacted to it. I can really see that customers are not king in this bakery. 

Back home, hubby said I chose his favorite slice. We all loved our slices except one who was disappointed at her chocolate favor. The girls fought again on who should hold the box with the slices, who should serve them, who should blow the candles, who can have the water bottle...I so need peace at home.