A perfect avocado, Euro-Poor Lentils

After a traumatizing arrival in Brussels (mr. cab driver, how was I supposed to know I live on a "Rue" and not a "Boulevard?") and finding my studiously nouveau-bohemian sub-let in Ixelles, I immediately did the following:

-got lost for an hour looking for a simple grocery store in the neighborhood;
-almost cried when I saw how expensive mere essentials like bread and chocolate soymilk were;
-almost cried again when I saw the first perfectly ripe avocado I'd seen in Europe (this time, tears of joy);
-proceeded back to apartment with ungodly expensive essentials, to find that it was no use washing off veggies with brown chalky water from sputtering sink;
-just collapsed in a useless heap on the floor, stuffed food into my face for about two hours, stopping only to pour cheap red wine straight from the bottle down throat;
-prayed would wake up hungover in Berlin.

Ahem. So this was day one.

Day two was a little better. I found a knife. I fixed the sink. I put some food on a plate. This was to get my nerve up for an endeavor involving public transportation and meeting fellow students from my program. Notice the lovely avocado.

Although I still got lost, still speak nothing of French except some extremely un-useful anarchist quotes, and still almost had a panic attack trying to avoid insane Brussels motorists, I made it home in one piece and felt a good deal more civilized.

Day 3 I even ventured to cook something. Finding that the only things that are even *close* to reasonably priced are lentils and red wine, I decided to combine those two things for this simple and satisfying recipe.

Euro-Poor Lentil Stew - for the girl with no measuring cups or money

Simmer a diced shallot or a couple cloves of garlic in olive oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add in a half coffee cup of lentils along with a handful of diced carrots, red pepper, and mushrooms, or whatever is handy and doesn't cost and arm and a leg. Cook about five minutes, than add in a diced plum tomato and a palm-full of herbs de provence. Cook till tomato juices are simmering, than add in enough red wine to almost cover the lot of it. Cover and simmer until lentils are soft (10-15 minutes). Serve with crusty bread (and more wine.)

What will Day 4 bring? Lord knows... but hopefully more avocados...

Song of the Day: Pavement- Shady Lane


jessy said...

those are three crazy days - and all of them so different! i too would break down in tears on day one, T! wowzers! that stinks that essentials are so darn expensive, but i'm glad lentils & red wine are cheap. i love that you paired them together and i cannot wait to follow your lead. you are a trooper, fo 'sho - i am not nearly as brave as you are. i'm so fearful of traveling abroad because my anxiety everything is absolutely ridiculous. one day i will get over my irrational fear of traveling & anxiety - and then i'll have some awesome adventures & stories to tell, too. keep on kicking ass, T!

(oh yes, and sweet gloriousness on finding the perfect avocado!)

Anonymous said...

welcome to europe.You will do fine ... look at you writing your story of life.... the soymilk the avocados are things u will look back at and laugh in French!Shop around and talk to locals to find out where to get the cheaper deals. I do hope you have a better week as you settle in.

The Voracious Vegan said...

Awwww you poor thing! I couldn't help but laugh and groan as I read your story. Keep looking on the bright side of things - for example: your perfectly ripe avocado! That always makes my day better. Have fun and good luck.

Mazuhl said...

France and French-speaking Belgium are not very good for vegans. Finding something good (and vegan) to eat is just a matter of finding the right places to shop.

That can be the tricky part!

But, once you've found the right places, you'll be fine!

Mihl said...

When I arrived in Oslo a couple of years ago and went to a grocery store, I also thought how can I live here if everything is that expensive? But it wasn't that hard. It was so much fun to be abroad that I completely forgot about it. Besides, you have alpro chocolate on your side :) Try the macchiato version if you have the chance.

Liz² said...

psst, I recommend finding a good dumpster and diving the heck out of it.

I'm currently eating my way through a most enormous and perfect avocado I found for free!