Bearing gifts from afar

On Wednesday past, we had our first visitor from home. R's sister M stayed one night with us en route to Marrakech for some much-deserved R&R. While we could offer nothing but damp, dreary weather and an air mattress on the floor (more on that later), she was still kind enough to bring both our summer clothes and a few oft-missed food items that we can't find or just aren't the same here. Equally distressing situations, really.

Let's see who's on his/her game and can guess what was in our food package (see the photos below for clues). Nothing to win, except my admiration!

OK, back to the air mattress while you're working on your guesses. When attempting to buy an air mattress in France, be sure to throw in that's it for le camping, even when it's not, or you will be certain to get more than a few strange looks. Also, do not be fooled by the se gonfle et se dégonfle très facilement sticker on the box. This does not mean your air mattress comes equipped with one of those built-in pumps (or any pump for that matter). And there is nothing easy about inflating an air mattress using the air exhaust vent of your vacuum cleaner and a makeshift pipe fashioned out of an empty water bottle. Well at least it didn't look easy from my vantage point on the couch.

Somehow, amidst all this excitement, we managed to slip in a delicious meal at a local world cuisine hotspot called Ave Maria, just down the street and around the corner. Recommended by my craft services partner from my early weeks in Paris on a student film shoot, Ave Maria was a pleasant surprise after an uncertain start. I will admit to being concerned at first, sliding behind a precariously placed plywood table in a room where cigarettes easily outnumbered plates. And normally I'd balk at a restaurant offering such a broad selection of cuisines on its menu: M dined on Afghan cuisine, R ate Indian, and I chose Mexican. But with generous portions and flavourful food, not to mention an (as yet) untested dessert menu, Ave Maria will lure me back.

Ave Maria
1, rue Jacquard
11ème arrondissement