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Travel Cultures Language

Cultural Differences of the Fast Food Kind

by Meredith Mullins on May 18, 2015

Desserts in a Paris McDonald's restaurant, showing cultural differences in fast food. (Image © Meredith Mullins)

Sweet Dreams
© Meredith Mullins

McDonald’s: From Le Croque McDo to McSpicy Paneer to Matcha McFlurry

Yummm. Rows of macarons in their inviting soft pastel palette. Rich chocolate cake. Little canelés rising like flour fortresses. Tiramisu. Cheesecake. Cookies. Lemon tarts.

Where are we?

In a sweet dessert dream? In a prominent Paris patisserie? In the restaurant of a Michelin-starred chef?

We could be. But, in fact, we’re at a McCafé, a part of the McDonald’s ambiance in France that brings all the lusciousness of French pastries and desserts to its fast food counter. From croissants to muffins to traditional French pastries, they’re all here for the (fast) taking.

From Colorful Guatemala to Post-Vacation Blues

by Sally Baho on May 11, 2015

Off-centered door in yellow stucco wall, a colorful memory recalled during post-vacation blues.  (Image © Scott Kafer)

The flowers aren’t the only thing that provide color in Antigua, Guatemala,
the houses remind you of a painter’s palette. © Scott Kafer

Finding the Color Wherever You Are

Only yesterday, I had returned from Guatemala, surrounded by people, colors, smells, and noise—music, cars, crowds, conversation. Now here I was back in Pacific Grove, CA, known as “America’s last hometown,” waking to the low hum of my refrigerator. Looking around, my once beloved apartment seemed silent, cold, desolate.

I felt as if someone had pulled the plug on me—where was everyone?  They had gone and left me with the post-vacation blues.

Connecting Through the Universal Language of Music

by Meredith Mullins on May 4, 2015

Two dancers in white at the rue Mouffetard in Paris, showing that music is the universal language of connection. (Image © Meredith Mullins)

Sunday morning dancing on the rue Mouffetard in Paris
© Meredith Mullins

A Reminder of Old Paris: Singing and Dancing on the Rue Mouffetard

I want to make people cry, even when they don’t understand my words.   —Edith Piaf

It’s Sunday morning in the Square St Médard in Paris. I am singing in the warm sun . . . belting out the words “Tant que l’amour inondera mes matins” from Edith Piaf’s “L’Hymne à l’Amour” (The Hymn to Love).

With my limited French, I don’t quite understand what the words mean; but the song swells up inside and puts a little lump of emotion in my throat. I feel an unexplainable nostalgia.

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