Today had a very irritating schedule that I both loathed and loved. I had to go to school from 8:30-11:30 and then from 3:30-6:30. I hated having to ride the train twice, especially in the mornings and evenings, but it was nice to be able to come home and have lunch, then start cooking dinner so that it would be ready when I got back.
So, off I went to school, packing myself into those horrible 5 and 7 trains. They are in serious need of updates. Anyway, back at school we watched a demo on Dacquoise. This is a very nutty cake. It is made with a meringue which is folded with an absurd quantity of almonds. Then, you make an almond filling and blah. I hated the taste of it. For our practicals, we learned how to make roses out of marzipan, which is an almond paste. It smells bad, but it is both fun and frustrating to use.
Watching the demonstration, I began to worry about the environmental effects of the school’s waste, and for that matter the waste coming from every bakery in Paris. For almost every recipe we need to make, we use a thick, plastic, disposable, piping bag. This makes me feel sick to my stomach every time, because, think what you will of the global warming issue, it is undeniable that our oceans are completely filled with garbage, the majority of which, is plastic. I watched a special before I left, of a man who goes out to study a massive collection of garbage the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific. The water currents all pull them together until they form a rat king of garbage. (If you’ve never seen a rat king, I would google it to be both disgusted and fascinated.) Jellyfish and all other sorts of fish, not to mention birds, get tangled up in this vast oceanic tomb and die. It’s sad. So, when each of us uses at least 3 plastic bags every class, there are 14 students in my class, so we use 42 per class. There are 20 classes, so our basic class alone uses over 800 plastic bags that are just thrown out into a bin somewhere. There are three basic pastry classes, so over 2400 plastic bags every three months. There are three courses going on simultaneously, so that means every three months, the school throws out at least 7000 bags! I wish they could be recycled somehow.
During the demonstration, we learned two interesting bits of information from the office. First off, Thursday is being called jeudi de noir or Black Thursday. All of the transportation in Paris is shutting down for no real reason aside. They are supposedly demonstrating their right to strike. Apparently this happens a few times every year, sometimes for weeks. I don’t exactly know how Paris is going to function, it is a massive place. I’m just glad that I won’t be there for it.
Next, we were told about our class field trip. We are going out to dinner Monday night at an extremely fancy restaurant, which means two things. Great, I’ll have to pretend to like the spinach and mushroom gratin, and crap, what in the world will I wear? I then took a sigh of relief when I remembered that I insisted on bringing my vintage Christian Dior suit along with me. But I have no shoes, which got me thinking, I have a six day weekend coming up, I like Topmans (clothing store), transportation is shutting down, what will I do? LONDON! Yes, I decided to go to London for a pair of shoes, amongst other things, of course, but mainly, shoes.
So, I hopped back on the train to head back home for lunch and to plan my trip. On the coach I chose, it was as if I had entered some bizarre 70s revival. There was a man who had to be 80 wearing the most ridiculous toupee. It was jet black and in a hair style nobody outside the 70s would be caught dead with. It made me smile. Then, this huge man entered with long, scraggly hair, and a widely unbuttoned floral shirt. It made me gag a bit.
The people in charge of the Metro were having a field day making sure that tickets had been purchased. We were raided twice, once outside of the train and once inside the train. None of us were expecting that. The officials were dressed in street clothes and simultaneously jumped up and started scanning our tickets. It was scary, kind of like a terrorist attack, but without any danger of dying or being a prisoner of a religious war.
Opening the door to my apartment building, I noticed that it had a sign, that read, “CASTING.” This only means one thing: actors are coming! I knew it wouldn’t be anybody famous, but still, I thought it would be interesting, so, I followed the signs to the casting place which was in another apartment. Nobody was there, so, I left.
Once I had woken Mother up from her slumber 4000 miles away, I bought my tickets to Londontown. They were each under $100, so they were deemed affordable. I wanted to pay the $50 extra to upgrade, but realized I didn’t really need it. I would have preferred it, yes, but it’s alright
So with my tickets purchased, Ma and I started looking for hotels. Nothing too extraordinary was found, so I got bored of it and started looking at things to do in London. By a bizarre chain of events, I wound up at the Regent Street Apple Store website only to discover that Eddie Izzard is going to be recording there on the 30th. Eddie is my favorite male comedian of British descent. My favorite male comedian of Scottish descent is Craig Ferguson, of Irish descent, Graham Norton. My favorite female comedian of British descent is Jennifer Saunders (and Dawn French, the two are really synonymous). I just love comedy, I suppose, so I was excited to find him there. Supposedly there are only 20 tickets available on a first come first serve basis, so I’ll have to go in the afternoon or morning. I will not be missing an opportunity such as this one, not by a long shot. But if I do, it will be available to download on iTunes, so I’ll hear it either way. Only during one I will be crying, and they won’t be happy tears, they will be tears of hopelessness because I didn’t make it in.
London must know I’m coming, because events that I am fascinated in are occurring all over the largest city in the world. For example, only a month ago, a revival of the Sunset Boulevard musical started. I will totally be there, maybe tomorrow. If there’s one thing I love, it’s a wacky movie star singing about a dead chimpanzee.
I had some lunch, then hopped back on the train to make my Dacquoise. There was a monkey-acting man on the train this afternoon. He wasn’t happy if he wasn’t holding onto two support bars and leaning against a third, taking up all the space in the coach. Everybody hated him.
The cake making process was rather smooth. The frosting didn’t go so well, though, a lot of us overcooked our sugar, so it crystallized and cooked the eggs. It was sad, hilarious, and gross all at the same time. The second time it came out alright, I piped it out (cringing with every dead seal I had just killed) and popped it back into the frigo. That is the French word for refrigerator and it is my favorite word in the whole language.
Once we were finished doing the cake, we each had to make a marzipan flower with leaves. My first attempt was ridiculously bad. It looked more like a wilted dandelion than a rose. But, I closed my eyes, smashed it, then called on my genetic artistry. I thank God that I have been given some talent with art, poor Jessica, she didn’t get a drop of it. So, carefully, I wrapped a rose together that looked freakishly real. I’m not one to brag (oh, who am I kidding?), but my leaves were the best leaves in the whole freaking class. In the end, it was perfection. Chef didn’t have any problems with it, aside from the fact that he usually prefers a different piping tip.
So, I packed up and went back onto the now dark streets of Paris. I have not yet felt threatened or scared in Paris at night, but recently, something happens that creeps me out. There is this sound that comes from nowhere that seems to follow me. It sounds like a trumpet with a bad mute in it from the 30s playing out this horrible, melancholy tune. It gives me goosebumps when I hear it, and it’s always the same tune. And, I hear it everywhere, at my apartment, at Bastille, near school, near the Louvre, even at the Eurostar this morning. That is very scary to me.
Back home, my chicken was finished and perfect. The last one was crap, but this one was juicy and tender. It fell apart just serving myself, and my potatoes were very good as well. I was very happy with that.
I had to find a hotel, so I looked everywhere, from chain hotels to independent places. I found a place called The Commodore, but it was all booked up. Ma found a Best Western next to Harrod’s which is a truly perfect location, but it was too much. I finally found a London-run chain hotel. All of their hotels are themed and located in the same area near St. Pancras International and the British Museum. They aren’t too far from any of the attractions, and have very affordable rates. I was impressed by the reviews on tripadvisor.com and by the photos that I had seen. I chose the Tavistock Hotel because it has an art deco theme. I love art deco, it’s my favorite decorating style. If I ever renovate a building, it will be a mix of art deco and gaudy Victorian. I love that combination.
Then I went and packed, got tired, and went to bed.