Saturday, 28 December 2013

How to eat langoustines

In Brittany, where I'm from, we love seafood. I come from a seaside region, so fresh fish and seafood were always available for us to enjoy. At every family reunion, Christmas day, New Year's day or any other big event, we ate a big platter of Langoustines ( or Dublin Bay prawns as the Irish call them). Each person around the table would eat them a different way. My dad used to take the shell off them one by one and basically start to eat 15 minutes after everybody. We all had finished our portion and we had to watch him eat, while we were all hungry for the next course... I used to eat my langoustines with lemon and mayonnaise. Some people even eat the meat inside the head , or the claws.

For some strange reason, Irish people are not big fans of seafood or fish. They would eat salmon or fish and chips, maybe peeled prawn, shrimps or crayfish but that's pretty much it. Seafood is also quite expensive ( probably because there's not a big demand) and it seems Ireland is exporting most of its production.

Needless to say it's hard to find an Irish person who knows how to take the shell of a langoustine without hurting himself (or somebody else). 

This morning I went shopping and found frozen Langoustines in Lidl. Yes, the German are bringing me some Dublin Bay prawns, with the shell on and everything! I wouldn't find that in Tesco or Dunnes for sure...

On the back of the box were the "Preparation instructions". These are probably the most hilarious instructions I have read in a long time. Seriously, how do you explain step by step how to eat a langoustine ? Well, read the below and enjoy.  It's obviously too late for me, but, come on, someone who has never eaten a langoustine in his life has to try this.  Just go to Lidl, 4.99 eur for a box, and do it , because I want to know if it works !!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Lost in translation

A French friend of mine asked me to translate a text he had written, from French to English. I didn't mind... until I read it. It's quite long, and it's written in formal French. I'm not great at translating, which is ironic considering I am fluent in both languages. People are often surprised when they asked me " How do you say that in French?" and I can't translate because I can't find the right words.
It's really hard to explain, but when I speak English, I think in English and when I speak French, I think in French. I don't translate one into the other in my mind before speaking. The only thing I do is mixing both in the same sentence, and speaking Frenglish. And just for the record, I'm not doing this on purpose, it's just because I cannot find the correct French word to express what I want to say!
I may be bilingual, but I am terrible at translating. The weird thing is I find it easier now to translate something from French to English than the other way around. That's because I've spent so much time here I suppose...
So, back to my translation. I'm sorry to say I put the whole thing in Google translate and then just worked around the "almost finished" product! Mind you Google translate was not that bad, maybe because it was a French to English translation. Usually when you use it to translate into French, you end up with very funny results !
Translating is an art, and I'm not very good at it, so I apologise to my friend in advance. I hope you get a good mark. I know I said I would finish it before Christmas, but well... I will definitely finish it before New Year!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Are you going home for Christmas ?

Every year I'm asked the same question. And every year is the same answer: "No. I'm not going home for Christmas". After 11 years in Ireland I only spent Christmas in France once. Not that I don't want to go to France for Christmas, but I work in an industry where the busiest period of the year is that time, so I can't take holidays before the 24th of December. And you can imagine the price of the plane ticket then...

It never really bothered me though. My parents came over the 2nd year I was here, and we had a traditional Christmas dinner with my "Irish family" ( I will talk about them in a later post, don't worry!). We had the turkey, the stuffing, the Christmas pudding and everything in between! My parents were delighted and even posed for a photograph with a paper crown out of Christmas cracker.

The most important thing is that, every year, we spend Christmas day with people who, like us, are not going home for Christmas. It started the first year and became a bit of a tradition.  And that's what the Christmas spirit is all about in my opinion, spending that day with people you care about, even if it's not your immediate family.

So, wherever you are, Irish abroad, foreigner here, my family and friends in France and Mauritius, I wish you all a

Happy Christmas!
Nollaig Shona Dhuit!
Joyeux Noël!
Nedeleg Laouen!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The crisps sandwich argument

It all started when I brought a mini banana cake at work, for one of my colleague. She was saying she loved banana sandwiches. I had never heard of that. Flamed banana or banana bread, yes, but not banana sandwich. 

Anyway, I don't remember how it happened, but we moved on talking about "crisps sandwich". I know what it is, but I always found odd to put crisps in a sandwich. I eat sandwiches, and I eat crisps, but they're on the side, not inside!

Needless to say I was the shame of the office for a while after my lovely colleague decided to tell everybody I never ate a crisps sandwich in my life. Apparently I cannot truly be Irish if I don't eat that.

So, in order to keep my pride, I'm eating this weird Irish culinary invention right now. I was told to do it with cheddar cheese. I added a bit of mayonnaise because how would the crisps stick otherwise? They would just go everywhere. I was also uncertain about the amount of crisps I was supposed to put in. The whole bag seemed a bit too much, so I opted for half. So this is how it looked:

My Tayto cheese and onion crisps sandwich

I'm gonna be honest. The beginning of the sandwich  was not easy to eat. The crisps did fall , even with the mayonnaise ( maybe I should have put butter instead?? Oh the dilemma!). It tasted good, but looking back I probably should have put more crisps in. I'm also realising now that I haven't cut it in a triangular shape (please don't hang me!).

I'm not gonna lie, it doesn't fare with French gastronomy, but for Irish standards, it's not bad. It probably tastes better after a good night out though !!

Friday, 13 December 2013

What's going on with the weather ?

As an adopted Irish, I feel I have the right to moan talk about the weather. After all, that's what Irish people do all the time: " I can't take the cold anymore", "It's very windy today", "Do you think it's going to rain?", "At least we had 2 days of sun","Here comes the rain again" etc etc. This is not a myth, there really can be 4 seasons in one day, even a half-day.
An every year there seem to be a new record of some sort: The warmest summer in the last 100 years, the coldest month of May ever, the rainiest July and so on.
Well, let me tell you, I think we are experiencing the warmest December ever.
I was going to work yesterday morning and I saw this sign on the road : 5:49am - 14°c.
Now, the funny thing is I started writing this post last evening, and today , on my way back from work, I heard on the radio that yesterday was the warmest day of December in the last 65 years!!  I was ( almost) right.
What I know is that we're going to pay that back. In Ireland it can be 15° one day and it would be -5° the next. 
But here's something to cheer you up. One of my French friend, who used to live in Ireland, once told me that she loved this country because the sun was showing up at least once a day. It can be early in the morning or late in the evening, but the weather is so changeable that the sun always comes out at some point. And you can't say the same about France.

  • 12 Pubs to be visited in one night
  • One drink per pub
  • Maximum of 30 minutes per pub
  • - See more at:

  • 12 Pubs to be visited in one night
  • One drink per pub
  • Maximum of 30 minutes per pub
  • - See more at:

  • 12 Pubs to be visited in one night
  • One drink per pub
  • Maximum of 30 minutes per pub
  • - See more at:

    Wednesday, 11 December 2013

    It's Christmas time

    I think Christmas starts a bit too early in this country. Come on, Tesco has been stocking their Christmas pudding since mid-October and as soon as Halloween ended, all the Christmas decorations popped up everywhere!
    For me Christmas should start on the 1st of December, at the earliest. I know I'm late, and I haven't even started my Christmas shopping yet... At least I know what I need to buy this year, because I don't want to end up in Argos on 24th of December at 5pm, trying to buy a rocket ship like last year. Mind you, the staff was really nice and in typical Irish style, let me in even if the store was closing 5 minutes after ( Maybe the crying outside the store helped!)

    There's something I really love in Ireland during this season, it's the Christmas songs. You know, the ones you only hear on the radio at this time of the year. In France, there are Christmas songs, but it's not the same. We sing the songs that we learned when we were young like "Petit Papa Noel" or Jingle bells ( the French version obviously!). I don't think mainstream French singers ever had a hit with a Christmas song.  The French don't even know when to play one : we were in France in August a couple of years ago and we heard " Last Christmas" by Georges Michael on the radio. My husband and I burst laughing ( and my sister didn't have a clue why). 

    Of course I have a favourite Christmas song, and of course, it's Irish. Enjoy !

    Saturday, 7 December 2013

    So my sister came to visit...

    Every time she comes, she always want to do something very "Irish". 

    Who could blame her ? She doesn't visit very often , so she wants to make the most of it while she's here.
    But going to Dublin and take pictures of Temple bar or go to Carroll's to buy souvenirs is not really my idea of fun. I love her innocence about Ireland though, and it usually reminds me of when I first came here. 
    This time, she asked me if we could go somewhere to take pictures of sheep, lakes and cottages. She also wanted to go the local pub and drink Guinness ( with a shamrock drawn on top!). The last time she came, she absolutely wanted to see Riverdance.
    But there's one place she has to go every time. I don't have a choice. I can't refuse or she will get very upset. This place is : Penneys.
    Penneys... Bringing fashion to the masses. Where else can you find a pair of jeans for 15 euros and a top for less than 10 euros ? Where else can you find those bizarre outfits that no other shop actually sell ? That's what my sister love. She can bring back clothes that are not sold in France and show off in front of her friends, saying: "You see, that's from Ireland!"
    The last time she came, I was heavily pregnant ( actually one day from my due date), but I had to drive her to Penneys... I thought I was going to go into labour right in the middle of the shop. And she was like, wait, I want to try this shirt on, and maybe I'll buy this, oh! and look that pair of shoes, oh my god, we don't have that in France... I could barely walk and there was nowhere to sit. But she got her shopping done, no matter what.
    This time, I had to ship over the surplus of clothes and shoes. We went to Penneys 3 times in the course of 4 days...  First time to check around ( and try silly hats and wigs). Second time to buy what she found the first time , and find other stuff because we were in a bigger store. Third time to buy what she forgot the second time plus some little extras like a handbag.

    But seriously, I love Penneys, I just don't shop there every week. You have to admit, they have clothes and shoes you will never, ever find in France, like this:

    Tuesday, 3 December 2013

    Sometimes pretending not to speak English can backfire...

    I've used this trick a few times since I live here. In the early years I still had my French car, and I was supposed to get it registered after six months, but I kept it for four years... So one day, when the Garda (the Irish police) stopped me, I pretended I didn't speak a word of English. In fairness, I was driving my car back to France a couple of months after so I didn't see the point of getting a fine or admitting I had been in the illegality for four years...  Don't worry, I have an Irish car now and I pay my road tax. I am fully compliant with the Irish Authorities !

    Anyway, my sister came over from France last week and we went shopping. In the Shopping Centre, there were a lot of young people going around with "charity buckets". It's very common at this time of the year, but my sister was very surprised as this doesn't happen in France at all. I guess French people are not as generous as the Irish ones... 

    At the exit, and just besides the car park pay station, there was a charity stall for the Paralympics. They were selling wristbands and other stuff, they were also asking for donations. From the distance, they looked quite "pushy" with people. I didn't want to engage in a conversation of why I didn't want to donate, and I only had a few euros to pay the car park anyway.

    Then, this stupid idea crossed my mind. I said to my sister: "Let's pretend we don't speak English". Well, it was easy for her, because she doesn't ( except after a few drinks...). For me it was a bit more difficult, because trust me, trying to pretend you don't speak a language you're completely fluent in, is actually hard. 

    I don't know why I didn't let my sister do the talking... Anyway after two words, the guy asked us where we were from. And when we said France, he started to speak French ! I have to say, I was impressed because his French was quite good. I felt even more stupid as I tried to explain in a "pretend" broken English that I only had change for the car park.

    The guy told us to wait a minute - in French of course-. At this point we thought we were free, but he came back with... a credit card machine!!

    We declined, obviously, and he was OK with that, but I will never try to pretend I don't speak English again. It would have been less complicated to say " No thanks, I don't have change" and walk away. 

    Lesson learned I guess...

    Monday, 2 December 2013

    Sure you're nearly Irish at this stage...

     photo Flag-Pins-Ireland-France_zpsb148d648.jpg

    I've been hearing this more and more and I don't know if I am in denial or if all those Irish friends of mine are winding me up ( as they usually do...)
    I mean, in my mind, I'm French and I always will be. I can't live without my filter coffee machine, I love croissants and baguettes (and please, not the Cuisine de France ones),I could eat a platter of cheese on my own, with some wine of course... I have a colourful catalogue of French curses and I'm a moany, always complaining woman (although that could be typical of every woman in the world, but being French on top of that doesn't help)
    The truth is, my beloved coffee machine broke at least a month ago, I haven't bothered buying a new one, and I've been drinking instant coffee since ( shocking I know!). The only time there are croissants or baguettes in my house is when my mum comes to visit. Otherwise, I eat sliced bread. French cheese is way too expensive so it really is a treat when I eat some. The old reliable mature cheddar cheese is good enough for me...
    Irish people think the French are always on strike. Well, I've never been on strike, ever. And the more I live here, the more I am laid-back. Sure I still moan about everything, but most of the time I end up saying "Sure, there's nothing we can do about it" and my favourite one " We'll see how it goes"...
    I do curse, probably too much, but like the Irish , I say "f***king" every second word. The weird thing is my co-workers are now cursing in French... go figure! 

    And now for the worst, I think I'm losing my French. Sometimes I find myself having to THINK how I would explain something in my own language.

    I do love Ireland, and even if I thought of going back to France a million times,I'm still here. I miss my family, I miss my friends, but I don't miss my country that much. I would just like to be able to go back there more than once a year.

    I still learn about Ireland and Irish people, even after 11 years living here, but nothing really surprises me any more...

    And more importantly, I enjoy being "The French one", even if I get slagged all the time for it !

    Sunday, 1 December 2013


    My name is Anne. I am originally from Brittany (North west of France), and I moved to Ireland in 2002. I am married and have 2 sons. I always wanted to write about my experience as a foreigner living in Ireland but when I arrived, blogs didn't exist...

    A few years later, I could have started something but I concentrated on another project, which was a French blog about my husband's country, Mauritius.

    As the years went by, it became more and more difficult to find ideas for that blog, and I really wanted to write more about life in Ireland. But after living in the country for more than 10 years, I couldn't talk about the usual "how to find a job, an accommodation and where to go out in Dublin..." There are plenty of blogs who do just that, and better than I would, for sure. 

    What I focus on here is more of my day to day experience as a French expat mum in Ireland. I mainly talk about cultural differences, expat life, parenting and I also write some books reviews (when I have the courage to take a book and read!)

    I  really wanted to write in English as well, even if it's not my first language. After all, I have spent a third of my life in Ireland and most of the time, ideas come to my mind in English, so it was only natural to blog in that language. I apologise in advance to my French friends and family who don't understand any of my posts though.

    I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it !

    Slán go fóill !