The secret life of Walter Mitty….

The_Secret_Life_of_Walter_Mitty_1274874

It would not be true if I were telling you I always run after planes. It also happens I stay at home, having low key week ends. I recently took the opportunity to go to the cinema and one of the movies I watched was The Secret life of Walter MItty, by Ben Stiller.

The movie trailer was smartly made and immediately caught my attention:
– Sean Penn is part of the casting,
– The trailer made me thought the movie is about travels and adventures,
– There was something which reminded me of Love actually somehow: the possibility of a love story despite heroes with life, personality and destiny that were not meant to cross.

Before going for a movie, I tend to read about the plot but never the critics. I want to be able to make my own opinion.This proved to be a good idea for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty as the movie got overall average critics and ratings.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a movie I struggled to opine one. 20 minutes after the movie began, I asked myself whether I liked it or not. Then the alchemy (I guess) or the American “block buster magic powder” made the rest. I was lightly charmed with the plot – mainly because it involves travels.

To me, Ben Stiller did a great job to capture the emotions and the beauty of landscapes, with a very special mention for Iceland and Nepal. As we spent a charming 5 days stay in Iceland last year, scenes were filmed in a way one could almost hear the “noise of silence” of the Icelandic landscapes. That same silence we experienced when taking a road trip within the Pingvellir park, during the Golden Circle adventure. (I will make a post about Iceland in the coming weeks – as this country is simply GORGEOUS and full of surprises)

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Music and songs were brilliantly picked, making a perfect match between landscapes, scenes, and feelings. I particularly loved Space Oddity by David Bowie and Kristen Wiig. It felt as if someone came through the screen, picked my hand and took me to Walter Mitty’s world. At that point I realized I would start to like the movie.

Where the movie can be challenged is about the “too much fantasy” arising in some situations : a bit over the top and simply not possible in real life. Those were the instances where I asked myself If it was a good pick or just a “goofy” movie.

What I did not know is that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is originally a book, and that there is an expression called “The Walter Mitty Syndrom”, used to describe people – often intellectual – who indulge in fantastic daydreams of personal triumphs. So this may well be an excuse to these goofy scenes….After all – Ben Stiller is not known to be an actor playing the register of Pedro Almodovar nor Woody Allen’s…. (Zoolander, Dodgeball and Meet the parents speak for themselves.)

Anyway, it was a very nice time and I was pleased when the friend I invited to come with mentioned even a week we saw the movie, that she really liked it.

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Leaving you with the Space Oddity song….

Copy rights for the picture of Icelan Pingvelir are MINE ! 🙂

The picture of The Secret Life of Waler Mitty was found on the site chicagonow.com

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Bucuresti… A mysterious stranger

Bucarest

2,000 Km away from Paris,

After we flew over Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Hungary … we were about to reach Bucharest. A new exciting life experience and opportunity to build ever lasting memories.

I cannot not define the way I feel before I fly, and when I get into the planned destination – but to make it simple: I am all over the place !Like a kid in a candy store. Travelling is in my blood.:)

When I told colleagues and friends we were off to Romania, they all sounded intrigued but interested in knowing about the country.

I knew about Romania to the extent of what is broadcasted on the news,

I knew about Romania for the extremely tough times people went through back to the late 60’s until early 90’s.

I knew about Romania and the wild dogs hanging out in the streets. I thought this was a legend until I saw it for real. I‘ve always been told not to try to pet them. And now I understand why…. Those dogs have nothing in common with the cutty Beethoven you see in movies. Those are real “gangsta one”, believe me.

I knew about Romania, and more specifically Transylvania as the land of Dracula.

When I arrived, my boyfriend had a great surprise for me :
A road trip across the country side, exploring Dracula’s castle and enjoying local food. The ideal for a relaxing week end. Could not wait to start this “Indiana Jones of modern times” adventure.

Though one of the thing one cannot control is weather.As we woke up on Saturday – Bucharest and the square in front of the hotel turned into a real life size snow globe.
Locals highly recommended not to go outside as pavements and roads were covered with ice. Needless to say, Dracula could enjoy his sleep – the “chasing vampire adventure” had to be postponed. Well – “If life gives you lemons: Make lemonade!” 

The funny thing in such a situation is to end up in a country and a city we had never been before, without being able to explore the streets, feel the ambiance and local culture.
It was a very low key and relaxing time. We ended up going to the restaurant, and hanging out in the corridor of the hotel – where an exhibition about Scotland was on.
Yes – I left Scotland 2 days before and ended up attending an exhibition about Scotland in Romania! Quite a funny coincidence, thinking about it !

At the light of the situation I am not able to share much about Romania’s landscapes and food delicacy, but it still remained a nice experience.
I liked the fact people were trying hard to speak English and make us feel comfortable. There was no chance that my American boy and I spoke Romanian, so it was very enjoyable.I felt thoughtfulness in the way we were welcomed.

What caught my attention though was a delicate “distance” – maybe shyness – a gentle feeling of restraint. Even if the country is the only one within the extended Eastern Europe region with Roman roots, I felt a bit the same as when I lived in Czech Republic: a subtle way of retaining emotions.

Before I end that post – do not get me wrong – we know that life is not as easy all over the city and country. Thinking that country reality is what one live when going at the hotel would be erroneous. We were aware we had to remain smart and mindful about where we go/ what we do.

Bucharest, Belle Inconnue. It was a short and almost “virtual” experience. When looking at the streets, end-less avenues, the gaps between luxurious properties and decadent buildings… there is so much to be seen!

Bucharest…So close and yet you remain a mysterious stranger

The kind driver who gave me a lift to the airport advised we come back in May. Count on it.

La revedere Bucuresti !

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Credit for the picture goes to my American Boy ❤

What I’ve learnt since I travel…

Passport

I do believe that in any life experience there is a POSITIVE learning opportunity (even if the positive side is not quite obvious from time to time).

As I started to explore the world, I had “key learnings” I thought I would share with you.
Some of them are a tiny bit exaggerated, but you may well identify yourself in others… 🙂

1.Travel light. Take the bare minimum. Aim to have a list of “must have” for travels

Ask my boyfriend – when I travel I used to take “my home” with me.

YES – “I may need that self-tanning lotion over that 3 days stay. (Even if I never put some the rest of the year)”

YES – “In case the weather changes over the week end – it is a safe option to plan on having 3 different outfits per day… Just in case… You know…. ”

YES – “I need that pair of red flat, the high heels boots and my shiny pointy black shoes….Just in case”

NO – “A black hand bag does not fit with every outfit: if I wear a brown scarf : it would be a FASHION FAUX PAS to accessorize with a black bag” 🙂

Though – as I am growing older – I tend to be more pragmatic and realistic. It was about time ! 🙂

All of the above were a bit of exaggerated, but some of you may see what I am talking about.

2. If you are European : forget about the passport filling contest with non European friends

My boyfriend is American : While he gets a stamp almost everywhere he crosses a border, I have been multiple times across Europe since I got my passport : it is even not half full.

3. US customs agent tend not to be the funniest (but some are still super cool – though)

The good news is that if you have a French accent – they suddenly seem to be a bit more welcoming. I guess it brings them a bit of an exotic touch in their day.

4. Some people can tell where you are from  – even if you do not mention your nationality 

Even if I am not a big fan of saying there are standard behaviors/ways of looking that makes a nationality more or less easy to recognize, It tends to prove right for me.

Example : when arriving at the customs border check in Dublin – I had not say a word or given my passport yet – I was welcomed with a warm “BONJOUR MADEMOISELLE”.

More recently, I was on the phone with the hotel concierge in Romania. I was speaking English – with the less French accent possible… at least I thought… The guy stopped me after the 2 words – saying : “ we can speak French if you want”.

Alright… I was maybe betrayed by ZEE FRRRENCH ACCENT for that one.

For those who wonders :
NO – I do not wear a Beret, or a French baguette every where I go 🙂
NO – I do not have a braid of garlic around my neck.
NO – It is not written on my forehead ” I AM FRENCH”

Last but not least – YES – I do take a shower on a daily basis ( just precising, as several American people came to me asking seriously if “is it true French people do not shower daily but instead use perfume ? “)

So , I guess there is something about my “Frenchness” that may be noticeable!

5. Communicating with people is possible even if you are not familiar with local language. It is a matter of willingness to make it happen

I still remember when I lived in Prague. I could not say a word of Czech.
Even after the 6 months I spent there, I could only stick to the basics “ Hello”, “Thank you”, “Please”.

Though one day as I was doing groceries, a lady started talking to me. When she saw my look – “OMG I could not undestand a word of what you just said” – she understood I was clueless. After a signs discussion, it came out that she just wanted to tell me I had very nice hair. It was a very funny situation, heart-warming and also a confirmation that when putting a bit of effort – it is possible to make connections.

Smile and laugh are international ways of communicating a state of mind, to make others feeling comfortable and welcome. Never be afraid of using it, as it is very communicative!

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Credit for the picture is MINE ! 🙂

About travelling experiences

travel-is-the-only-thing-you-buy-that-makes-you-richer

I was caught by the travel bug “relatively late” but as it kicked in, I can surely say it got me forever.

What I have always loved about travels is this opportunity to really “sink” into the local culture.I have been lucky enough to explore many countries and this gave me the opportunity to think about sustainable travels and culture awareness.

I recall when we were  in Athens last year : 10 am; 35 degrees C – on the Acropolis, admiring the Parthenon. Probably more than 10 different languages were spoken on a hundreds square meters place. Who would have guessed – back in 447 BC that the Parthenon would become one of the most visited site in the world more than 2000 years later?

Anyway … Back to the story…  We were among the crowd of people, ranging from one taking selfies, couple smiling for a souvenir pictures, and the one working on getting a new facebook profile picture. Let’s be clear – I got half a dozen of pictures taken there as well… 🙂

After we were done, a group of youngster asked us to take a picture of them.  As my boyfriend was about to press the button to immortalize the event  – they suddenly deployed their national flag, which was now gently floating in front of one of the most ancient vestige of Greek and Antique culture.

The fun started when this massive lady kicked in, blowing her whistle, asking them to fold the flag and to delete the picture they took. She even asked to see the camera to make sure the picture was deleted. Quite an interesting moment but also a good example of the type of tourism I try to stay away from. 

Even if I like to call myself a “world citizen”, I want to make sure when I come in a new country I exchange about local culture ( and when I can  – about mine). Above all – I want to respect the welcome I am being given, which include not putting on the French cliché show.

The same way when I am invited at someone’s place I would not break in like a hurricane as I step in the place, but rather wait I am told to enter further. Depending on situation I would bring a “little something” as a courtesy and for the pleasure of sharing and making my guest happy… That is the behaviour I try to have when travelling.

As I was on my way to Romania – a new place for me – I was 100% excited, feeling agitated – and asking myself “trivial ” questions : How Bucharest is going to look like? Are people friendly to tourists ? Will I make myself understand given that I speak French, English, Spanish but surely not a work of Romanian…. (Answers will come in my soon to come post on my Romanian adventures !)

Once landed, I crossed the long corridor, heading straight to the exit to finally get the adventure started !

And you – what is feeding your love for travels ?

The picture in this post is not mine… I found it at the following blog

http://www.chrystal-clear.com

My friends from all over the world… Clothilde, Painter in Argentina

Animal Farm

For those of you who have been following me since I started this blog, you will have noticed that my posts are mainly focused on cooking and travels. I am lucky enough to have friends a bit all over the planet who decided to make a bold change in their life, and live for and/or thanks to their passion: travel, professional project, love… I decided I would introduce you to them and their passion as I have always been impressed by their decisions. To remain focused on my blog topics, the interview will include questions related to travels and cooking as well.

The first friend I am going to talk about is Clothilde. She is French, we went to middle school together, and then our path just split as I had to leave the region I used to live in. Several years later, I came across Clothilde on Facebook, and I was extremely but positively impressed by her new life.

After getting her A level with honors, Clothilde started to study to become a doctor. She realized it was not made for that…and stopped. At the same time she met Juan, a charming Argentinian man on the internet. She left France to live in Argentine 2 months after meeting him. The first challenges started: learning Spanish, getting used to local life in Argentine, and finding a job. As she was about to apply for a Maths master at university, Clothilde found her vocation: Painting. She then decided she would make a living of it.

Today, Clothilde is a full time painter. You can find her pieces of art on the following website: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ThildArt

Clothilde paints mainly on small format: 6 X 9 cm. With such small size paint, you are not allowed to make any mistakes or to lack precision, else it will be immediately visible. Clothilde’ s paints are mostly inspired by the French pastries : chocolates, macaroons… She also likes painting animals. (She told me she always starts painting the eyes, so the animal can “stare” at her and then she works on painting the rest of the body. ) Clothilde starts diversifying also and you can find on her site some larger size paintings 40 X 30 cm , mostly farm animals.

Clothilde was very kind to give a bit of her time to answer the questions I have always wondered about painters. 

Me : Which painting is your favorite?”.

Clothilde : “My favorite is always the last paint I finished, because I spent so much time with it, arranging it, changing details to make sure it got as close to perfection as it could be. I  paint at night and I must confess that when I finished a painting, it happened I put it close to the bed so I can see it when going to bed 🙂 “

Me : “Who is your favorite artist?”

Clothilde : “I like a lot the surrealist style of MAGRITTE, and wish one day I will be able to master this type of paint. But if I had to spend time with an artist, I would love to meet Jacques BREL, as I feel in this artist a sensibility that is very close to mine.”

As a wrap up I also asked Clothilde some questions related to travels and cooking.

Me: If I tell you “travel”, what does this word mean to you?

Clothide: “When I think about “travels”, I associate it to quite a negative sense. Not that I do not like travels, but some people tend to neglect the places they go when they travel, and the only purpose of their trip is to tick a monument on their long “travel to-do list”. To me travelling should be a long lasting process, where people should take the time to discover and understand locals, and their way of living. That is what I like about travels. It should be an experience that make people leave a country “richer” and full of new experiences, rather than a quick trip where you rush to get yourself picture in front of each every famous monuments.”

Me : What was the trip or the country that stunned you the most ?

Clothilde : “As funny as it may sound, one of the landmark trips for me was when I came back to France, 2 years after I left the country. During this trip, I was able to show Juan (my husband) all the places and habits I ‘ve been growing up with when I was a child. I also had the opportunity to make him try all the French specialties, and visit Paris as a true “tourist”. We walked miles and miles… and made breaks in many lovely bakeries. After 10 days spent in France, I came back home with tougher than ever calves, and 5 more kilos !!!”

Me : What was your last trip?

Clothidle : “My last trip was during summer 2011 when I came back to France. I was pregnant with Jeanne. The lovely surprise was that Edmond (Clothilde’ s son) learnt to walk in Paris. This trip will forever be one of the most amazing one as my son was able to meet is Gran Gran ma! ”

Me : What is your favorite dish in France and in Argentina?

Clothilde : “My favorite dish in France? That is a very challenging question! I am a big fan of the Raclette ( a French specialty were you melt slices of Raclette cheese and eat it with cured meat and potatoes), and I also like very much meat stew such as the “Carbonade Flamande: ( a beef stew where the meat is cooked and simmered in a beer sauce) .

As for as Argentina, I am not a big fan of dessert as they are almost all made of Dulce de leche, which make them too sweet and too heavy. But the ice-creams are delicious ! As for as main dish, I really like empanadas. There is a very nice restaurant in Belgrano where they cook amazing ones with corn flour (that is the way we cook them in the North of Argentina) ”

Me : What is your specialty ?

Clothilde : ” I missed so much pastries when I arrived in Argentina that I decided to learn and bake my own desserts. I can do puffs with a delicious vanilla custard, Italian meringue, brioche, macaroons, home-made chocolates…”

That’s all folks ! I hope this post will make you check Clothilde’ s marvelous paint and travel a bit via her experiences and adventures.

La liste de mes envies…

 

IMG_0040L’été est arrivé. Les températures sont là pour nous le rappeler. Pour ceux qui partent en vacances, c’est l’occasion idéale pour s’adonner à des activités « paresseuses » ou qu’on ne prend pas la peine de faire en temps normal.

Je viens de finir un roman sympa et je pense que certaines d’entre vous se plairont à le lire. Oui je dis “certaines” car je pense que ce roman est d’avantage destiné aux femmes, mais rien ne vous empêche de le lire messieurs (C’est d’ailleurs un homme qui a écrit ce roman)

Rentrons dans le vif du sujet : “La liste de mes envies” (Auteur : Grégoire Delacourt)  est un roman d’une centaine de pages, qui a connu un succès international (27 pays ont acheté les droits d’auteur, et un film inspiré de ce livre est en cours de préparation)

L’histoire? Jocelyne – l’héroïne principale du roman – est mercière à Arras. Elle mène une existence paisible entourée de son mari et de ses amis proches et virtuels. Oui, Jocelyne tiens un blog « dixdoigtsdor » où elle partage ses talents de couturière et ses états d’âme. La vie de Jocelyne s’en trouvera bouleversée le jour où elle se retrouve en mesure de s’offrir tout ce dont elle a toujours voulu. Le jeu en vaut-il la chandelle ? N’a-t-elle pas plus à y perdre ?

J’ai aimé ce livre car il se lit très facilement : pas de fioritures ou de pseudo exercice de style. Qu’on se le dise, ce n’est pas un livre qui va gagner le Goncourt ou un prix Nobel de littérature. Les héros sont de simples gens que vous pourriez avoir fréquentés : un voisin, les parents d’amis ou une connaissance éloignée… 

Ce roman a probablement connu un tel succès car il revient sur la (dure) réalité d’aujourd’hui et prône les plaisirs simples. Le parfait compagnon pour un après-midi à la plage. Pour ceux qui connaissent, “La liste de mes envies” se rapproche de “L’élégance du hérisson” de Muriel Barbery tant pour le style que le thème.

Details
Titre : La liste de mes envies,
Auteur : Grégoire Delacourt,
Editions : Le livre de poche

Happy Bastille day France

 

Lampion

The national day in France is on July 14th : Bastille Day. The celebration of Bastille day consists in having a Firework and the Firemen dance ball, and every town in the country would have its own. Some are nice, some are as kitsch as possible, but in the end, it is a nice opportunity to get outside and have fun.

As I grew up, I used to go the Bastille days’ celebration almost every year. Even though I enjoyed it, I never really paid extra attention to the event as it was kind of a tradition, almost a routine. As I started working 4 years ago, I did not have the opportunity to go to the celebration. The first 2 years without going were ok… I could live without it. The 2 other years were more painful, as I actually realized it was part of my “French DNA” to go and see the firework with my parents and enjoy that day in my country.

This year I was lucky enough to be free on July. I decided to book my ticket to attend the celebration in my hometown – and it was worth it as you’ll see later in the story. In June I called my parents over excited to let them know that this year we will celebrate together. In my hometown the celebration actually happen on the 13th at night, and consists in : a walk in the streets with , the parade of the firemen, the marching band of the village play on the main square of the village, and FINALLY the firework and the ball.

As the D day arrived, we got ready to attend the firework.

10:30 pm, the show started.  It was a really nice firework: lovely colors, music perfectly in sync with the show. The explosions always make me shiver. I love fireworks.

11:00 pm, the ball started.

I arrived in my hometown12 years ago, and every year since then the same band called “Square root” plays and makes people dance until the end of night. To be fairly honest, the singer sometimes struggles with the tunes or with the lyrics when is come to English songs (but it is so brave of them, and I do admired them when they started singing “In the Navy”….The beginning is not the easiest one for a non-English speaker J ) . I love the ball because there you see people from 2 years old up to 80 + on the dancing. All with very different styles (some with better than others. Though everything goes smoother after several beers.  

Midnight came through. Unlike Cinderella my car did not get transformed into a pumpkin…
Instead, a security guys started to be a bit sweaty as some people entered at the rear of the scene where the musician were, to “visit” the area and get closer to the handbags that were stored in the cloakroom.

00:05 am :  A van with 5 people drove toward the city hall, and stopped. As nobody was allowed to drive in there, the guys started to wonder what would happen then. It was a “false alert”. A 40 + woman got outside of the van, to pick her daughters up.  False alert.

00:15 am :  A new guest joined the party, as a car of policemen arrived to drive around the city and ensure everything was alright.

Meanwhile, the musicians were on fire , playing “Satisfaction”, “Waterloo” and many other hits.That was quite rock ’n’ roll Bastille Day celebration.

After all that I thought it would be over for the day. I THOUGHT.

00:30 am, my parents and I took the car to head back home. A girl in front of us was not walking very still, but despite it, she got into her car. After driving over 200 meters, she ended up driving on the left side of the road (we drive on the right in France). At that point, we knew that she probably did not drink Coke all night long. This was confirmed when we saw the car leaving the main road to drive on the sand path through corn fields, probably to avoid being caught by the policemen. Bold initiative but not sure if this was be a successful one. We shall see.

What to say after such an animated night. The 2013 Bastille Day celebrations were extremely fun this year. As critical and tough I can be toward my country and the people, it felt good to be able to celebrate the national day in France. Special thanks to my parents for coming with me and making me have such a great time. Looking forward to the next one !

The picture come from the site: http://www.tourisme-en-sarthe.com 
It is a picture of the “lights” we walk with in the streets during the celebration of Bastille Day.

Cooking healthy food : demystifying the myths (1)

Tzatziki

As soon as Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are over, our favorite magazines, TV shows and internet sites release their first subject of the year: how to look like a mermaid (or a body builder for you gentlemen) for the next summer holidays. By that, you need to read : how to get rid off the muffin top you got last winter after eating jars of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream while watching the full seasons of “Downton Abbey”, you little lazy and weak creature ! I won’t mention the turkey, Christmas cakes, chocolates and other delicatessen you got between Thanksgiving and December 31st. 🙂

Golden rule for this challenge: If you want that amazing body, you will have to eat healthy. Ban all processed foods, cook fresh and tasteful home-made recipes. To help you, a team of nutritionists put recipes together. At that point in time, you are super excited and already see yourself wearing that amazing red bikini, highlighting your nice curves, running on the beach like Pamela Anderson (and you gents, proudly showing your 6 packs, and smiling with the brightest smile ever, ready to make all the chicks on the beach fall in love with you.)

HUM … Well… this was before you and I check the ingredients required to cook those healthy meals! After that, the mermaid/surfer look vanished and became a mirage.

SERIOUSLY, who has at home and ready to be used: chestnut flour, Jamaica pepper, purple potatoes or donkey milk ?

Do you really think that the supermarket at the corner of the street I live sells black tomatoes?

Do I look like a girl who can eat cabbage soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

And you reader, do you have time to cook a delicious home-made fresh spring roll, with a papaya salad when coming back home after an 8 hours working day ? 😉

If you can find and/or do all of the above, I admire you ! On my side, I decided to try easier recipes that require “boring” ingredients (just kidding), because tt is time to Demystify the myths of healthy food recipes. Last week I had the opportunity to try 3 recipes that were very easy and tasty. I thought I would share them with you.

The first one I am going to share with you is the Tzatziki. It is a Greek recipe, made of Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic and fresh mint. It takes literally 10 minutes to do.(The other recipes will follow in future posts)

For roughly 4 people (as a starter, or 2 people for a light dinner) , you will need :

450 grams of Greek Yogurt,
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and grated
2 to 3 cloves of garlic crushed,
2 table spoons of fresh chopped mint,
2 table spoons of Olive oil,
The juice of half a lemon,
Salt, pepper and smoked paprika (optional, only if you like spices)

1. Wash the cucumber, peel it and deseed it. Grated it to have very thin slices (almost about to melt in a mouthful). Place the cucumber in a sieve and sprinkle with salt. Set aside and allow the juices to escape.

2. Mix the yoghurt, cucumber and mint. Add the garlic, lemon and olive oil to the mix. Season with pepper. Garnish with mint and smoked paprika before serving.

Tzatziki is better when served chilled. Do not hesitate to keep it in the fridge. Sometimes it is even better the day after as all the ingredients infused in the yogurt. I served it with some toasted sourdough bread slices with a dash of olive oil on top.

PS : In all honesty, I am kidding, I am very happy about the food I got over winter, and would not starve myself just because I want to look good in a suite… instead I go to the gym so I can enjoy good food, but remain and look healthy.

The picture in the post comes from the site “Food people want”. http://www.foodpeoplewant.com

The Fabulous Baker Brothers

Fabulous Baker Brothers

Alright ! Some of you may know, I am a real foodie. Last winter, I spent many hours in front of cooking shows, as I did not get many opportunities to go outside (the blame is on the weather). I am based in UK, so I tend to follow local chefs: Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from River Cottage; and a duet that is not as famous as the first ones: The Fabulous Baker Brothers (Tom & Henry).

One is a butcher the other is a baker. They travel across UK to meet with the owners of restaurants that have experienced a decline in frequentation (most of the time). During the show, those 2 guys revamp the menu, creating new recipes and revisiting some of the restaurant’s favorites. The good thing is that you can find all the recipes from the show on Channel4.co.uk website.

In this show, it is all about comfort food: easy, savory recipes made using local products.

I like the Fabulous Baker Brother because the recipes are simple, and the 2 guys cook live: so you can see step by steps how they prepare the meal. It helps demystifying cooking: thanks to it, I realized that it does not take hours to make a nice soup or bake a delicious sticky toffee pudding.

 You can find the shows and the recipes on the Channel 4 website: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-fabulous-baker-brothers

 Hope you will like it and find inspiration for the next meals you’ll cook,

The hidden power of smiling

Smiling dog

Almost every day, websites, newspapers, women magazines release “wellbeing” and “how to be happy” advices. Very popular themes. We probably glanced at one of those articles at least once in our lives. Some are real good; others are just a pretext to advertise a new product to buy. Yes, philanthropy has been superseded by capitalism in many areas.

I recently came accross an article that gives a simple and free advice on how to head towards fulfillment , and as I’ve experienced what this article is about, and experienced its benefit and sustainability, I want to share it with you.   

In The untapped power of smiling,Ron Gutman explains the power of smiling, and how this can change yours and others’ lives.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2011/03/22/the-untapped-power-of-smiling/)

Smile is an international means of communication and one of the most basic, biologically uniform expressions of all humans. Smiles are cross-cultural and have the same meaning in different societies: whether you are in Europe or in a tribe in the Amazonian jungle. In 1967, Paul Ekman conducted studies in Papua New Guinea among the Fore tribe. Even if this tribe was totally disconnected and isolated from Western culture (Fore members’ were particularly known for their cannibalism rituals) – they attributed smiles to descriptions of situations in the same way you and I would. Smiling is commonly considered as an expression of joy and satisfaction.

Smiling makes me feel “lighter” but have never been able to say if it was an “impression” or if it actually happens. I found the answer to my question in this article.

In “the facial feedback response theory”, Charles Darwin explained that smiling is not only the result of us feeling good, but it also contributes to make us feel better. German researchers injected Botox to inhibit smiling muscles and used fMRI imaging to measure the brain activity before and after the injection. The results of the experiments showed that the facial movement modifies the neural processing of emotional content in the brain and were able to demonstrate that smiling stimulates the brain reward mechanism “in a way that even chocolate — a well-regarded pleasure inducer — cannot match.” (That is quite a good deal if I can be happier than when I eat chocolate without the inconvenient of putting on weight 🙂 )

Smiling is contagious. People I went to school or worked with say I am a smiley person. I do smile quite often and noticed how it positively influences my life. When I smile, people smile back and the same way, I cannot keep a straight face if someone genuinely smiles at me.

Based on the above example, once you raised a smile, the smiling effect keeps on rolling : You smile > You feel good > People smile back > Their turn to feel good…

I can give you a personal example to illustrate it. Not so long ago, we faced tough time at work. I had a chat with my boss to see the best way to overcome the challenges. Two days later, he thanked me for keeping smiling and being positive, saying that my smile kept the team going despite the turmoil. I will never forget, and consider this as the best advocate of a smile’s power. Smiling does not require much from you. In challenging time, smiling will have a much better impact than someone sulking and complaining. I do not live in Carebears world, and sometimes I feel more like punching my face against the wall than smiling but then I stop and realize that by making a small effort, I can get where I want in a less painful way for me and people around.  

If you are still doubtful about the benefits of smiling, a Penn State University study revealed that when you smile you not only appear to be more likable, but you also give the impression of being more competent. Well…If I were a recruiter, I do not want a person to look competent; I want the person to be competent. So, the way I read it is that one would probably not get a job only by smiling but may have more chances to go through the full recruiting process than others who do not smile. 🙂

 So Keep Smiling !

PS 1: I included a link with Ron Gutman’s speech at TED.

PS 2 : The picture in this post. It is Riley “the smiley dog”. The cutest I have ever seen!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/picturesoftheday/7497224/Pictures-of-the-day-22-March-2010.html