my favorite items from the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list

human towers in Spain

When I fell down the rabbit hole of the UNESCO cultural heritage list last week, these were my favorite gems. Make sure to check out the slideshows and videos!

Polyphonic singing of the Aka Pygmies of Central Africa

Albanian folk iso-polyphony

Isukuti celebratory dance of Western Kenya

Traditional Mauritian Sega

Human towers of Spain

Czech dances (from the land of my father)

Cambodian ballet

Nicaragua’s El Güegüense 

Humanity is incredible.

[Photo: Santi Terraza]

starting the weekend with a grumble

la duree macarons

Today was Macaron Day 2015, apparently a grand Parisian tradition brought stateside by an NYC-based French chef. I would have written this post earlier to encourage you all to go out and get yourself your right and due of a free macaroon. But… I stopped by the Macaron Cafe for mine around 2:45pm and they told me they were “sold out” of all their free macaroons. Which is 1. an oxymoron and 2. annoying when all you see in front of you is a sea of macaroons every color of the rainbow. Even though I really, really wanted one, I refused to fall for what now seemed like a cheap marketing ploy aimed at suckers, walked out in a huff, and have been regretting my stubbornness ever since. I was counting on a macaroon today. (I actually sighed while writing that.)

Instead I am going into the weekend with my still-lingering cold and a plan to play bingo with old people in Park Slope (and friends my own age!). Before I head out the door for that Friday night delight, which I know you will never believe is more joyous than even the most delicious macaroon, but which I assure you nevertheless it is indeed, I leave you with some weekend reads from around the Web:

He spoke only French. She spoke only English. Google to the rescue. (An adorable love story.)

That $15 transatlantic fare was indeed too good to be true.

Is France ready to stop being so uptight about protecting the language?

Museums get multicultural and multilingual

Ten ways learning French would be much easier

Eight European towns to put on your wanderlust wish-list

Happy weekend!


(get over the) hump day inspiration: questionable attribution edition

"“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see further.”

I feel bad about crediting this quote to JP Morgan when it may in fact have been Thomas Carlyle or someone else entirely who said it. The Internet is undecided on that score, which is ironic considering that the nature of the quote is about seeing clearly.

Continue reading

talk pancakes to me

This has absolutely nothing to do with language learning or wanderlust but I’m just too proud of my culinary masterworks to keep them a secret. Look at these beauties! I made these.

berry buckwheat pancakes

raspberry buckwheat pancakes

Here is the recipe, if you’d like to try it. (I altered it slightly, using 1/4 cup gluten-free all purpose flour and 3/4 cup buckwheat flour.) These pancakes turned out 100 times tastier than my ill-fated galettes experiment. I would venture so far as to say that even a wheat-eater would find them delicious.

The syrup comes care of my brother-in-law and is so easy to make that I wouldn’t even call it a recipe: in a saucepan, warm equal parts maple syrup and berries until they meld together into a compote.

Bonus: your pancakes will be Talk Foreign to Me approved if you daydream about your next travel adventure while eating them.

happy weekending!

man running towards the weekend

I had so many fun plans for this weekend, starting with dinner tonight at a Serbian restaurant, my first Balkan meal ever. But about an hour ago I felt the first stirrings of sickness in my increasingly sore throat and since then it’s spread throughout my entire body – a general malaise that can only mean a cold is on its way. Must. Fight. Back. Must eat delicious meats with unpronounceable names.

Hope you all have a healthier weekend than mine unfortunately promises to be, and that you don’t need to entertain yourselves while convalescing with these interesting reads I’ve gathered from all corners of the Internet:

An English-speaker spends a year without speaking English.

Travel deals from around the globe.

And in the same vein… the U.S. dollar is now worth almost as much as the euro, which is at a 12-year low. Best places to travel while the dollar is strong. 

But if you can’t afford to go abroad… on March 19, Americans can sample a (slightly less expensive than normal) taste of France.

Can you guess which of these blurbs was written by a computer? (The most foreign of foreign speakers is a bot, no?)

An argument for traveling in your 20’s (that I’ve applied to my 30’s).

The French ponder (in French) why Americans love brunch so much.

I don’t even know where to begin with this video. No wonder Air France is in trouble.

The French are not as cool with their version of Ashley Madison as you might think.

[Photo: Dennis Skley]


Kozy Shack flan

Don’t ask me why I have been drawn to packaged flan lately. I know – it’s just asking for trouble. Still, in a taste-off between two processed, mass produced versions of a dessert that was just not designed to sit for months in the refrigerated aisle, there is a clear winner. Goya’s flan was too sweet and had an overly burnt top layer, but it nevertheless retained the general taste and contours of flan. Kozy Shack’s flan, however, was indistinguishable from paste. It tasted like flavorless Kool-Aid and had the consistency of Jell-o.

Just in case you ever get a hankering for flan and, like me, are too lazy to make it yourself or to find a restaurant in which to purchase it…FYI Goya’s is the lesser of the two evils.