California Swag

A Californian in Paris: Welcome Home Burrito

Whenever I come back home, the first thing I crave is either a giant burrito or Panda Express. The former is more explainable, the latter… hey, I freakin’ love their orange chicken. For some reason, Chinese food isn’t really celebrated in Paris. You have a lot of French-Chinese running Japanese restaurants instead of serving their own delicious cuisine. Then again, Panda Express isn’t truly Chinese either.

Another tragedy in Paris is the lack of authentic and delicious Mexican food. Luckily, I have relieved my pain and suffering with the above photo.

My family lives in a small suburb close to Los Angeles. Whenever they pick me up from the airport, we always get to cruise along the famous 1 freeway on the way home. Many people think the 1 goes all the way up the California coast— but this isn’t exactly true (especially going toward San Francisco… you’ll eventually have to continue on the 101). But the 1 is very scenic where it starts along the coast in Los Angeles.

Once I got out of the terror that was LAX border control, I felt so free. Warm weather accompanied warm faces. I was so happy to be home, but being away for so long, it was hard to switch back into English. I kept saying pardon and excusez-moi, even bonjour to my mom. I don’t use contractions when teaching English to my French students (or use them at all in France), so I had to adjust to speaking casually again. My mom even told me I now have a slight French accent when speaking English 😛

Our ride home was crazy beautiful classic California. Passing through Malibu and all the state beaches… seeing the Pacific again…. Smelling ocean air. We picked up fresh picked strawberries by the fields. I am in love with L.A. all over again.

A Californian in Paris: California Strawberries

I’ve never been good with jet lag, so I’ve been cursed with waking up and sleeping during strange hours, but it’s been getting better. My family and I went to Santa Monica the other day to get our shopping on at Mitsuwa, a famous Japanese market chain in California.

A Californian in Paris: Calpico Ice Cream Cone Cookies

Calpico Ice Cream Cone shaped cookies

California is lucky to have such a melting pot of beautiful cultures AND amazing food. The best foods are always a fusion of different cultures.

A Californian in Paris: Santa Monica Mitsuwa Haul

The little pink circle candies also turn into whistles- my favorite treat as a child.

At Mitsuwa, I also discovered some delightful Japanese mushrooms that I’ll be playing with in the next post. Maybe adding them with some noodles and tofu? Or marinating the mushrooms alone with Japanese ponzu sauce, and adding green onions and toasted sesame seeds on top? Or I could add a little Mexican inspiration here with jalapenos?

A Californian in Paris: Japanese Mushrooms

For my French readers, I’ll have to create a must-do list for summer adventures in L.A., including what to bring from the U.S. to France. You can load up on Cheetos (trust me, mes amis, don’t distrust the fake bright cheese color… these chips are scandalously addictive). However, I advise you to also take advantage of the melting pot that is America. For my first recommendation (or second… if you first go toward Mexican food like I did), I’d look into our Japanese-American culture (like Mitsuwa Market or Little Tokyo in Downtown L.A.) and the products available in Southern California.

A Californian in Paris: Royce Chocolates

For example, these outrageously delicious Japanese chocolates! They are a must. These Royce chocolates are on par with… maybe better than… the chocolate I’ve had in Europe. My favorite French chocolatier is Jacques Genin (I also adore Jean-Paul Hévin), but you know what, they’ve got some fierce competition with Royce. Royce chocolates have an international reputation for impeccable sugary delights, customer service, and cute af packaging.

A Californian in Paris: Royce Chocolate Packing

The box even came with its own little ice pack.

The chocolate was melt-in-your-mouth divine. We also bought some mochi (Raspberry Mille-Feuille, Green Tea, Peach Yogurt), but alas… They didn’t last long because they were too delicious not to devour immediately. All of my readers must at least try the Royce mochi, if not the chocolate.

The chocolate is a bit pricey (one box was $18 + tax), but understandably so. Just the experience alone of seeing the chocolates get wrapped and then unwrapping them by yourself later is so worth the price, if not more for the chocolates themselves.

A Californian in Paris: Royce Chocolate Packing

And it comes with a tiny spatula.

A Californian in Paris: Eat Royce Chocolate

In-cred-i-ble…. or as we say in French, incroyable (enh-croy-a-bleh)!

There were many flavors to choose from, but I wanted to try the mild chocolate as a contrast to the dark chocolate I’d been gobbling up under the dark grey skies of Paris… bittersweet, just like the current state of the city! As the weather in Paris continues to be dreadful, I’ve been rejoicing in the sun. But I shouldn’t brag… I’m ghastly pale next to my own mother, who has always been the palest one in my family. Tomorrow, you’ll find me tanning on the beach. It’ll be a nice 82F/28C day.

Until next time!


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