The mood across the continental U.S. this week has been dark and dreary, to say the least. What with Hurricane Florence barreling our way, the East Coast shrouded in tropical rain, and even the news of the Pacific Northwest orcas’ losing yet another one of its members (down to 74 now…), we seriously need a pick-me-up. If you’d rather be anywhere but here, how about having a multi-cultural night, à la Issa and Molly in Insecure‘s season 2 finale?
In case you don’t watch the HBO series, education social worker Issa doesn’t have the funds to join lawyer BFF Molly on a trip to Morocco. Instead of jetting off without her bestie, Molly does a solid and surprises Issa with a Moroccan night at her home, complete with caftans, carpets, and of course, the food.
Travel is of course one of the best ways to heal, rejuvenate, nourish, and experience joy. But if taking off somewhere exotic isn’t an option at the moment, how about experiencing its joys and fun right at home?
On Saturday, wake up late. (The French don’t get up early to go to a 8:00 am spin class, Mon Dieu). Linger in bed reading something hopelessly French like Simone de Beauvoir or Elles: A Bilingual Anthology of Modern French Poetry by Women. At 10:00 am, go downstairs to your favorite bakery/cafe for a café (an espresso) or a café allongé (americano). If you’re lucky enough to have a vegan croissant at your bakery, go for it–otherwise, pick up a warm, fresh baguette and eat it with confiture (jam). Swing by the farmer’s market to pick up groceries and drop them off at your apartment.
Spend the afternoon checking out French art at a museum, then hurry home to host a very casual, but still very stylish dinner party for 3 of your close friends plus 1 friend you’d like to get to know better. (Going out on a Saturday night, when one is *expected* to be out, is almost as bad as being a plouc. Staying in is chicer). How about a vegan French onion soup to start, followed by Warm French Potato Tempeh Salad.
Dessert can be a vegan chocolate hazelnut torte but let’s face it, you have better things to do than make 3 whole dishes from scratch (#feminism), so serve some artisanal vegan cheese and farm-fresh fruits instead. Don’t forget about the bottle of wine: Bordeaux is favored by luminaries from James Bond to Coco Chanel, but honestly go with the region that strikes your fancy. Being subversive is a part of French snobbism, too.
After the guests leave, finish things off by watching a French film on Netflix, in bed. What about Blue is the Warmest Color / La Vie d’Adèle? Being French, you embrace and relish your solitude like it’s a precious gift. You’re an independent woman indeed–but wait, who is texting you at 2:00 am?? L’intrigue ensues.
Certainly a lot easier, and more efficient, to accomplish. Meet your best friend for an afternoon coffee break at your favorite vegan cafe. Do try to fit in a cinnamon roll if you can find it. But the most important thing is the *quality* of time that you spend together with another person. Put down the phone (Instagram photos can wait) and actually share what’s going on in your life.
South African sundowner
This can be a bit tricky for urban dwellers, but still doable! Suburbanites will have an easy time replicating this South African tradition. First, go spend the afternoon outside, exploring your local nature and wildlife, whether that’s around your local botanical garden, wetland reserve, park, or even just your neighborhood. Come back home and fire up the grill for a braai, aka the South African BBQ that is so central to the national spirit. While the grill / fire pit / or a candle (for city dwellers) is burning, and your vegan kabob skewers are marinading, open up a bottle of wine, preferably a South African specialty like Chenin Blanc or a Pinotage. Savor the wine while watching the sunset. Bonus points for wearing khakis.
Turkish spa day
First, go to the local florist for some roses and eucalyptus branches. Gently rinse the eucalyptus first, and then hang the branches over your shower head. As you take a hot bath (or a shower), the steam will cause the eucalyptus to release its healing essences and a delicious aroma. (Feel free to add rose petals into the tub, if taking a bath). While soaking, read Orhan Pamuk’s My Name Is Red, Arabian Nights, or (for more modern feels), Elif Batuman’s The Idiot.
Replenish yourself after the bath with a pot of hot mint tea. Then have a dinner of burek, falafels, stuffed grape leaves, and Turkish spinach salad. Some halva (tahini bars) or vegan pistachio ice cream will do for dessert!
English afternoon tea
Brew a big pot of your favorite tea and fish out your china teacups. If you’re feeling really fancy, whip up these vegan scones with clotted cream. Queue up The Crown or Downton Abbey–or just settle in with your favorite Jane Austen novel. (We won’t tell if you opt to catch up on @KensingtonRoyal, though.)
Have you ever had a multicultural day?
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Photo: Insecure, Lancey Morris, Mary Hood Luttrell, Peaceful Dumpling, Faye Lessler, Pexels, Molly Lansdowne, Quincy Malesovas, Lauren Sacerdote, Kat Kennedy