An anglophone from the west. A francophone town. Hoo boy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

yo soy...

Things continue apace.
At the moment, I've taken to studying Spanish. From a book written in French, no less. No, it's not just for the fun and intellectual challenge. I've gone and applied to a doctoral program. And an overachieving one at that. It's based at McGill, but runs through a research station in Panama, so there's a language prerequisite. I'm finding it extremely enjoyable to study a language so closely related to French. As a side benefit it forces me to go back and refresh all those basic things in French that either I never learned, or learned so long ago I've forgotten. And it's much more gratifying to learn basic vocabulary than to study the appropriate uses of pronouns and verb tenses.
In any event, I'm really hoping for this to work out. Half of my potential supervisors (because the program is split between two locations I need two supervisors) are extremely keen for me to start, but nobody has the money to guarantee me a spot. And since I was in some kind of daze for the last few months of last year, I didn't apply for a grant and hence, have no money of my own (which would pretty much let me dictate where and what I wanted to go and do). It's all very much up in the air at the moment, but I'm planning for the best.
In other news, I kind of have a job. I'm not actually working at the moment, but in theory I have a job teaching English. Teaching English may not be one of my life goals, but it helps pay the bills. At least it will if I actually end up teaching. Yes, it is a weird situation.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

language lessons

J'ai besoin de quelque chose comparable en français!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Maple me this?

One thing I've noticed living in Québec is the amount of maple syrup.

Sure, Canada is a country of maple: maple syrup, maple trees, maple leaves, maple cookies, maple candies, maple you name it. But in the west, probably because we don't produce maple syrup out there, I haven't noticed the same levels of saturation. Well, and maybe I'd forgotten just how much maple syrup there is here after two years in Japan.*

And that was before I went to a cabane à sucre, where each table gets its own litre of maple syrup to pour over plates of ham, tortière, baked beans and pancakes. And then you head outside to eat tire sur la neige -- maple syrup poured over snow and eaten like candy (Yum). It's all very good for you. Especially with a glass of caribou -- red wine or port mixed with some hard alcohol like brandy or vodka and a dash of, you guessed it, maple syrup.

Maple syrup is a standard condiment at breakfast tables, and those who know me, know I love breakfast. I don't quite have the same love of maple syrup as the rest of the breakfast eaters I see here. It seems to be standard practice for the waitress to ask if a diner wants maple syrup with their breakfast. I prefer my eggs with hot sauce, which is next to impossible to get here (the last time I asked, I got the bottle from the kitchen and some strange looks). I've even witnessed maple syrup in coffee, which I'll admit is tastier than hot sauce.**

So is this supersaturation particular to Québec, or is it an eastern Canadian thing?

Or is my theory correct: maple syrup gives French-Canadians special powers. What those powers are exactly I have yet to determine. Maybe it's something like being able to understand those really thick Québecois accents...

Next time:
Caramel spread on toast! Does that even exist anywhere else?

*That being said, I've been told that Japan is the third largest consumer of maple syrup and maple products -- right behind Canada and the US. Not surprising when you consider the gift-giving culture that flourishes there.

** Or HP sauce. Yes, I'm still going on about that.