It's 5:22 am right now and the temperature is 72 degrees Farenheit with 78% humidity. The air feels very heavy and warm. We got in yesterday and melted in a much warmer, non-conditioned apartment -- ours. No fan, either. Number one priority today: buy a fan.
We had a nice ten-hour flight. Maylin had lots of fun playing with the seven year-old girl sitting in front of her. We offered our new friend gummy bears and a lollipop; in return, Maylin got some Pringles. Maylin shared her dou-dous with the girl so her stuffed giraffe and sea otter got lots of attention. The two of them also played peekaboo with the young man behind us. Maylin learned some new manners on the flight. The phrases, "excuse me, can I borrow your sticky toy?" (sticky toy = "wacky wall-walker" type of toy found in some cereal boxes during my childhood) and "excuse me, can I borrow your TV?" (handheld media player) got some use when Maylin saw something interesting going on in front of her. It was so cool hearing such a young kid say, "excuse me." She was not shy at all with her new friend. She's so different when it comes to adults, though.
I've used very little French since the flight. Being away for over a month makes the lingual transition not so easy. Not that I've necessarily forgotten a lot, but my tongue and lips aren't ready to articulate those very different sounds. And on a direct flight from San Francisco to Paris on Air France, when do you make the transition from English to French with the flight crew? Once you reach the Atlantic? When you're right over France? Or right when you step aboard the plane and encounter your first Frenchies in over a month? (I think I just made up "Frenchies." Not meant to be derogatory in any way.)
Apart from my mom's wonderful cooking and some good Bay Area restaurants, it was hard to find a meal in the States that met my expectations. I think being spoiled in France with so much good food and improving my own culinary technique has made for a very discriminating palate. Now I can tell if a restaurant is using frozen ingredients or processed foods in their recipes and it displeases me a lot. Why pay for something that isn't fresh and made from scratch? That's usually how I cook at home.
I've had several bad meals in France, too, surprisingly. But I'll let you read the rest of my blog (past and future entries) to find out the details.
I was happy to discover that there was at least one real Japanese restaurant in the San Joaquin Valley, about 45 minutes away from my hometown. Tempura, teriyaki, udon, nigiri, rice bowls -- a very complete menu! It wasn't the best Japanese I've had, but it was pretty good for being outside of a major metropolitan area. Aside from the undercooked rice in my mom's tuna rolls (I made her send it back -- how can you serve less than perfect rice in a Japanese restaurant and expect your customers to break their teeth on it?), I had few real complaints. My mom thought the shrimp was on the small side -- that is a big deal when it comes to tempura because it means you're getting a mouthful of batter mostly.
Our trip back was a really nice one. Saw my brother get married, got to know my new sister a little better, witnessed a beautiful bond between Maylin and my parents growing, helped Maylin develop a love for the water and start learning how to swim, spent time with good friends (still didn't get to see them all, unfortunately), and played tennis with my parents. A big thank-you to my parents for hosting such a wonderful stay.