Gratitude Friday: 33 Years

Post by Lauren

This Friday’s gratitude post goes out to my husband, since Wednesday was his trente-troisième anniversaire.

Everyday spent with him is a gift.

Last Friday night, we had a triple birthday celebration with A & A as their birthday’s all fell within a week. We went to Mr. Pickwicks Pub for an evening out with Geneva friends. They gave us “the VIP room” (aka “The Champagne room”) for the celebration.

I made some chocolate and nutella cupcakes and L & L brought a lovely cake.

I speak for both Gabe and I that it is really nice that we have met such great people here in Geneva….it makes celebrating occasions like this a lot more joyous.

Here are a few photos from the night:

Bon weekend, everyone!

Halloween in Geneva

Post by Lauren

In Europe, Halloween isn’t such a big holiday. Gabe & I had a few friends over so that we could properly celebrate.

First, he carved a pumpkin, which is a necessity for Halloween. By the way, large pumpkins are sold sparingly at the big grocery store, labeled Gros Halloween, or Fat Halloween.

Then, I made a few “scary” dishes:

Then, a few friends joined us for the fun. Note, most of them came on public transport and got lots of odd looks. Including people who were taking photos of them. Again, Halloween is very strange here, especially to dress like characters (see yesterday’s post).

You are probably wondering who won the pumpkin? Well, the big prize goes to The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo.

Congrats and Happy Halloween!

The American

Post by Lauren

Since Gabe’s company has headquarters in the US, they encouraged all the employees to dress up Friday. Here is Gabe dressed as Magnum PI. It was relatively easy to pull off since he had a Hawaiian shirt and cap and S & S had given us a bunch of mustaches (you’ll see why for tomorrow’s post). Anyhow, comparing the two, I think he did quite well for a costume pulled together in ten minutes, morning of.

Since only about 5% of his office is from the US, he knew that people may not know Magnum PI. However, he figured he would get equal education in their characters….maybe some politicians, movie stars, etc. However, people only dressed up like witches and goblins.

We now know the European definition of Halloween is to dress up like a scary thing, not characters, historical references, or pop culture icons like we do in the US.

Lesson learned.

At the end of the day, they circulated an email featuring everyone who participated. People had subtitles of Goblin, Witch under their photos.

Gabe’s simply said, “The American”.

Curry if you care

Post by Lauren

Have you ever used curry to promote peace and tolerance? After this weekend, I can say YES!

This summer, tens of thousands of Singaporeans united against intolerances by pledging to cook a pot of curry on August 21. The effort was designed so that all could appreciate and embrace multiculturalism. Check out the link to Reuters from Lady J’s musings here that can provide more background.

While so many of us were traveling late summer, our friend, Lady J, who happens to be the best cook / pastry chef I know, decided to treat us to a rain check….a Cook A Pot of Curry evening in Geneva. Gabe and I are always up for promoting multiculturalism. Plus, did I mention how awesome her cooking is? 🙂

Lady J and her husband J, and traveling guest KT were such excellent hosts. We had the pleasure of tasting Gado-Gado, Chicken Satay served with Ketupat, Curry Chicken, Prata and Kaya Puffs. My favorite were the incredible sauces. They are so delicious and spicy.

Because I didn’t pull out my camera until the end, Lady J’s Musings and KT ‘s blog provide much better recaps of the fun we had that night. However, here are a few shots I captured later in the evening of the great people we’ve met in Geneva:

The only thing that I am sad about is now I have a constant craving for Singaporean food and its really hard to secure the goods here in Switzerland to make such a meal. Guess its time to plan a trip to SIngapore!

A page from the Swiss rulebook: Visit and Thank you specifics

Post by Lauren

When moving to Switzerland, I read quite a lot about how to properly thank people and what to bring when you are invited to a true Swiss person’s home. All these books advised that it would be quite rare to actually get invited to a Swiss home as an ex-pat, since they only invite trusted long term friends vs. folks who are only here in two year stints. ( See more on this and tu and vous on Schwingen in Switzerland )

However, I thought we better be prepared, so I have noted the following:

Rule #1 – When going to a dinner party, you should bring a gift for the gentleman and a gift for the lady. So, perhaps a bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers. Or chocolate for her and whisky for him.

We saw this when Gabe’s co-workers came to pick up the large items we had included in our shipment for them, after they found out it wasn’t possible to buy in Switzerland. They brought him a very nice bottle of champagne and me this gorgeous orchid that has been adding so much color to our home this summer. They obviously read the manual and I was impressed by their gesture.

Sub-Rule 1a – if there are children, you must also bring something for them like a chocolate or a toy.

Sub-Rule 1b – if you bring wine, it is noted to make sure it is of high quality.

Check. Good to know not to bring the Boones farm to the nice gatherings.

Sub-rule 1c – if you bring flowers, they should not be carnations, or lilies which mean death or yellow roses.

Sub-rule 1c1 – do not ever bring an even number of flowers. Only odd. Its bad luck to bring even.

Glad to know about the even/odd thing. I’ll make sure to note this.

However, I am concerned that they had to put the clause about buying carnations in this book…who is out there buying carnations anymore?

Rule # 2 – Always wait for your guest to offer a toast such as “Santé”* before drinking. Don’t clink your glasses like American’s do. Make sure to stare deeply into everyone’s eyes before taking a sip.

Check. I can handle that. We have actually been practicing the “santé” quite a bit. Except everyone seems to interpret “deeply” as “creepy”. See A executing the creepy santé below.

Rule #3 – leave by 9pm.

Check. When I lived in Charlotte and went to the gym at 5am, I can appreciate this rule. Most of my Charlotte friends have witnessed me falling asleep at my own dinner party. That was usually their signal to leave.

Also, we have heard that we shouldn’t make noise between 8pm and 8am. So, no running the dishwasher, washer/dryer and certainly no footsteps. We haven’t had any issues with neighbors so far, but our friends have had neighbors approach them and tell them that they won’t think twice about calling the police if they hear a peep from them after 10pm.

Rule # 4 – never ever show up at someone’s door unannounced. The Swiss are very private people.

Check. Every building has a door code anyway. I don’t plan on breaking in to crash on new nonexistent Swiss friends.

So far we have only done Canadienne Buffets at friends homes, more in the style we are used to. We like this as everyone just brings a dish and we don’t have to buy each other gifts ever time we go over to each others houses. But now we are prepared in the case of Swiss friends. We shall keep you posted if we ever need to use such rules! I’m not banking on it….

*Santé means “to your health” and is pronounced sonn-tay! You should try it at home.

 

Thanks for a Joyeux Anniversaire, everyone!

Post by Lauren

It was a great 32nd birthday for me. Not only did I awake to great breakfast pizzas made by my husband, but I was surprised later in the day by freshly baked goods by the S’s and an amazing birthday card and care package of treats from them as well.

The day was topped off by the fête fireworks which were remarkable. Gabe jokes that he ordered them especially for my birthday. It certainly is good timing for my birthday to hit this big celebration as they are the biggest display in Europe.

The fête commences

Post by Lauren

Every summer, Geneva hosts an amazing 10 day festival. Or maybe its 20 days? The “pre-fête” started around July 23. There have been swarms of people everywhere, rides, music nightly on 3 stages and food vendors galore for the pre-fête over the last 2 weeks. We’ve gone there twice for drinks already and to take in the international scene. You could have fooled me and called it a real festival, but it actually wasn’t the real deal.

The real fête started this past Thursday night with a grandiose fireworks display which is actually the petite (or little) fireworks. The big fireworks come at the end of the festival. S hosted a bunch of us at their home for a fabulous dinner and we walked down by the lake afterwards to enjoy the scene.

We have a friend coming in next week so we are really glad we have the entertainment of the festival at the lake to show him!

A traditional Chinese treat!

Post by Lauren

Sunday night, we had a culinary treat when R & L invited us to their home for a traditional Chinese dinner. We had tried their fabulous spring rolls before at an earlier Canadienne Buffet party, so with the anticipation, we lightly picnicked for lunch on the way back from Lyon so that we would have plenty of room for the delights.

And we were so glad we saved room! They cooked a magnificent feast for us and we got to try ten different Chinese dishes. They were all A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! It was so hard to pick what to go back for second bowls of as everything was so unique and tasty. I think we both ended up trying everything twice.

While we love Chinese food in general, our prior experience had only been limited to USA-style. So, this traditional family-style meal was a first for Gabe and I. It far exceeded the Chinese we had ever had before, so now we are spoiled 🙂

All the girls decided we need to teach each other how to cook different dishes that were our “specialties”, so I certainly look forward to my Chinese lesson someday soon. I think Gabe looks forward to me getting this lesson too!

Thanks for hosting such a lovely evening, L & R !!!

Say Hello. Wave Goodbye.

Post by Lauren

Canadienne Buffets will simply never be the same. Yes, one of the original fab-five, D, is leaving Geneva to return back to the US after her summer internship with the Lutheran World Federation.

It is definitely a bummer for us as she was one of the first three friends we made in Geneva. However, we knew that goodbyes like this would happen during our time here, as Geneva is a transient city by definition. With 40% foreign residents, people often come and go because assignments usually aren’t permanent. So this week, we sadly learn it firsthand!!

L hosted a goodbye party in honor of D this weekend, with the theme “sticks” since the joke was that she is returning to the sticks (to continue studies at UK, in Kentucky). A, D and L came up with this idea that everything had to be served on sticks and I’d have to give them major kudos – it was delicious and memorable.

So, it was a really fun way to bid adieu to D and wish her a bon voyage back to the US. We’ll miss her a lot.

The silver lining of this coming and going thing about Geneva is good friends from Charlotte, S and S, moved here this week. We were really glad they are getting settled well and look forward to great times Swiss style with them.

Fête de la Tomate & Carouge

Post by Lauren

Friday night, we checked out the Fête de la Tomate in Carouge. The Swiss love their festivals (we have seen/been to 4 already in our short time here) and we equally love going to them. Mainly, because it provides a neat outing and more tasty & affordable cuisine than we can find in the restaurants.

The Fête de la Tomate was a really enjoyable evening, but this festival was a lot smaller than the others. Especially as I think it is a bit more lively on Saturday vs. Friday night since it apparently was the first year its been open Friday night. Maybe everyone didn’t get the memo including the vendors as the tomato stands, tomato sauce stands, etc. weren’t open.

We explored it for a bit, enjoyed the band, had some food, and then headed back into Carouge to have a glass of wine and dessert.  Ironically, we ran into friends A & A and their pups during our walk.