What I’m Bringing BackNantes, Spring 2012

Long before I returned to the United States, I started to think about how I could transport my experience to share with all of the people I love back home.  Naturally, I wanted them to try all of the food and drink I had tasted and loved in France.  I wanted them to try candy and cake and bread and wine and cheese and biscuits and everything that was wonderful.

I bought a second suitcase, and started planning what would go where, and how I could bring everything back with me.  I was going to fit France on an airplane and bring it across the world t share. But I started packing, and there wasn’t enough room.  I had to make choices.  Much as I tried, I couldn’t pack my entire experience with me in my luggage, even though I had nearly doubled my return capacity.

So, here I am in the United States.  I have brought some little things back.  A few candies and a few bottles.  I got some croissants through in my backpack.  But contrary to my wishes, I have had to give some things to some people, and other things to others.  There isn’t enough for everyone to try everything.  My experience didn’t fit in my suitcases.

But I have brought back differences in my life.  I have improved my French, learned about the culture, and gained more understanding about the world.  Besides those things, the biggest notable difference between Eric before and after France is the amount of time I spend in the kitchen.  Ever since I got back, I have been trying new things, and sharing recipes and ideas I learned.  In particular is one chocolate cake that I really enjoy making.

I cannot take pictures of my better language skills, my increased cultural understanding, or the knowledge that has changed me.  But my attention to food is something I have been documenting.  You’ll notice through these pictures that the cake is the dominant theme.  Three times have I now made the chocolate cake whose recipe I learned in France.  No matter how many other recipes and foods I try to make, that is one I want to continue improving, and making more and more my own.

The croissants in the picture were smuggled on the plane back into the United States to share with my family.  Of course, smuggled is a strong word, as I’m pretty sure that was legal.  I toasted them in the oven to give them back their external crunch and internal warmth and softness.

In any case, I now know that there is no way to bring my experience back to the United States in a way that will allow me to give it to other people.  They will have to go out and have their own experiences, and their own adventures.  I can tell others about my life in France, but I cannot live there for them.  For my part however, I have brought back so much.  Among other things, are my interest in cooking, my French Harry Potter books, and the friendships back in France that I am so glad to have.  And I have the pictures of the journey which I have been taking, and sharing with you all along the way.

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