I know it’s been forever, I’ve just been what the French call “très occupée!” Instead, I would like to center this blog around something that has become very important to me. This is a place to go to forget all troubles, sort things out, and even clear one’s mind to concentrate on the present and receive a second wind of renewal. One can call this place our “hiding place,” others may call it a meeting point of different people and convivial faces. This place is not a travel destination, nor a natural landscape; rather it is centered in the heart of the city of Strasbourg. It is known as “Tarbouche” and is the preferred restaurant for my belle amies et moi.
We discovered this restaurant after meeting with our advisor Malou, who decided to meet there one afternoon for lunch. To our greatest surprise, we walked in and felt as if we entered a different country, with the beautiful fragrance of a Lebanese kitchen filled with bold flavors and ingredients of the Middle East: Oregano, tomatoes, fresh lamb on a skillet, chickpea galore, and freshly brewed black tea. Once you enter this lovely nook, I simply do not know if you could ever leave. From this day forward, the girls and I crave this meal. We will even talk about it days in advance. Not only do they now know us by face, but they still welcome us in and address us as the “Americans” (what else is new?). This place helps us for many reasons:
a. We can talk about our problems: it’s true that since the service sometimes takes a good amount of time to prepare our fresh platters, and since we have already memorized the menu by heart (I take falafel with hummus and cucumber tomato salad almost every time), we are allotted much needed time to hash out our issues/ complaints/ positives/ and negatives of the day.
b. Tarbouche brings people together: while some may say we have an addiction to this place (don’t worry I’ve only eaten there twice this week), I think it’s a must for all the people who have visited me! My brother, my friends from home, friends from school, Epitech students, advisors, and of course the 5 amigos…I just realized I have yet to bring my host family here. Speaking of my friends from home, I thought I would also announce that I recently brought two of my best friends from home, Amanda and Enxhi, here because they surprised me with a visit to Strasbourg a couple weeks ago!!! Don’t worry, we did more than go to Tarbouche (even though they did go and absolutely loved the chicken chwarma and babaganoush). We spent the week touring Strasbourg, going to the Cuban boat bar, entering the Cathedral (the astrological clock show is definitely still a letdown), and meeting all my notorious Epitech students, host family, advisors, and of course the girls (our gathering took place at the Tarbouche, bien sur!) There was also a wonderful visit to Frankfurt where we stayed for the weekend with family of mine (right, I didn’t know I had family in Germany either). To sum it up, it was wonderful to have with me a piece from home and I’m so happy and thankful that they came!
c. They give us free tea. While this might not be a huge factor considering their tea is only 1 euro, it’s still the thought that counts and we are poor college students (that and the fact that we have to pay for food over here in a more expensive currency, and what can I say? We enjoy good food!) Tea also has the charm of helping out everyone in need! Are you sick? Drink some tea! Had a bad day? Have a cuppa! Wanna watch a movie? I’ll put on the kettle! (Quoting my host mom at least) The English are totally doing the right thing with their whole “afternoon tea time” spiel. This is why I’m enjoying a nice cup of herbal tea right now while watching “The divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood” with my host sister.
What I am trying to say here is that while the Tarbouche has become a large part of our experience in France, it is also a place that creates joy, harmony, and positive energy. While this weekend is a gift for the fact that we have four days off from school and I will be eating chocolate and watching movies till my cheeks look like an Easter bunny, it’s a little bittersweet for the fact that we will have to give Tarbouche a rest for now. Yet, this also means we will have to make up for it next week! Wishing everyone a wonderful Easter from France! Next week: South of France with the girls and Malou….things are about to get fou.