Almost French

As (basically) an English major, I set the same basic goal every summer: read more, write more. Blogging is certainly helping me work on writing more but reading more is always a struggle. But this is certainly not because I don’t like to read (that would be sinful for an English major!)… but because I only like to read in a certain state of mind. I need peace, I need lighting that’s a little dim but not too dim that it becomes hard to read, I need a chair or couch that won’t make my butt numb after two hours and I need a time of day where I can turn my phone off and ignore my parents. I know all this makes me sound like a really picky, stuck-up perfectionist, but really, it’s because I can’t stand to not give every word of every page of every book my undivided attention. Rarely does life provide the perfect conditions for reading, so I’m sure you can see how it would be hard to stick to even the most basic of summer reading goals! But I’m really working on it this summer and I’ve had some success already.

My first literary venture is a water-stained book I’ve had in my possession for about a year now. My uncle, who currently resides in Australia (yeah, there are no words for how jealous I am of that), left it with me after his brief visit here to the States. I’m a little attached to the book… I think it has something to do with the fact that I have no family in the States and it had been over five years since I had last seen my uncle. Almost French, an interesting little memoir by an Australian author, is like my own little souvenir of his visit. He even left his plane ticket stub pressed in the pages that I use as my bookmark. Though it’s not the kind of book that would traditionally interest me (I’m not partial to memoirs), I thoroughly enjoyed reading it because I felt connected to him in doing so and I could relate to the cultural clash Australian Sarah Turnbull experienced when she chose to start a new life in France for love (eh… minus all that soulmate-lover stuff). It’s a bestseller in Australia and has some really thoughtful moments of reflection. The ones that resounded with me most were those that dealt with the language barrier. English is not my first language, I was born in Bosnia and didn’t come to the States until I was five. My parents still struggle sometimes with the language barrier. I know first hand how frustrating it is to not being able to even speak in basic sentences or how frustrating it is to feel self-consious every time you open your mouth. Even more, I know what it feels like to learn to speak the language and come so close to assimilating but never close enough to really belonging. Then you’re left straddling the better part of two worlds and it hardly seems worth it. Turnbull does a great job of capturing that exact feeling. Part of me wonders if that’s how my uncle felt… or feels about moving to Australia. Perhaps I’ll ask one day. In the mean time, I get a little comfort out of finishing Turnbull’s adventure into everything French.

And in the spirit of French-ness, I’m celebrating a good start to my summer reading with some Nutella Strawberry Crepes to lighten the mood. I’m pretty damn good at making crepes (though I’ll admit, my mother is more skilled in pan flipping). So I’m going to be really generous and share with you all my crepe making secrets… here’s how you can make your own!

Start by mixing 2 cups flour, a big spoonful of sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and my secret ingredient- a pinch of vanillin. No, not vanilla extract, use vanillin. You can find it in the spice aisle and it has a much bigger punch. (Note, this is only for sweet crepes). In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup if milk, 3 eggs and 1 and 1/2 cups of water.

Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients while mixing and keep mixing until the mixture is smooth (add a bit more water if necessary, it should be very liquid-y).

Use a lightly greased pan on medium heat and ladle out the mixture, swirling pan around to spread thin. Give it a few minutes on each side and flip! If you’re not ambitious or steady in your pan flipping skills (like myself), use a spatula.

Lastly, fill with yummy things! I chose Nutella and strawberries. NOMS. I’d like to give a special shout-out to Aaron Michael… you see blog-verse, he’s this amazing photographer friend of mine that I’ll certainly be talking about more when we are reunited in a few weeks. I made crepes once at his house and he slobbered all over the plate, unable to contain himself. Yeah, they were that good.

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