Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday from the Francophone Files | 26 May

Vendredi, 26 mai

Back in Brussels from a crazy week in Luxembourg (more on that below) -- just in time for a second installment of Friday from the Francophone Files!

Listening to ... Brussels Jazz Weekend

Whether it's running on a treadmill versus running through a park or sitting in a dark theater versus going to an outdoor film festival, I'm a firm believer that everything is better outside. While my level of appreciation for jazz leaves something to be desired (insert joke about La La Land here), I'm pretty sure that an outdoor music festival in the city center of Brussels will be right up my alley. Read more and plan your weekend on the Brussels Jazz Weekend website.

Eating ... Avocado Nests

One of my goals for 2017 was to be more aware of the things I was putting into my body, and to make a renewed effort to eat healthy -- but that's easier said than done in a country whose most famous foods are fries, waffles, beer, and chocolate! In an attempt to kick off my day the healthy way, I decided to give a new breakfast recipe a try last weekend. The recipe for avocado nests seemed simple enough: cut an avocado in half, pour an egg into the hollowed-out middle, season with salt and pepper, and bake.

Needless to say, it didn't quite work out that way. (It turns out that unripened avocados will not magically turn from rocks to deliciously ripe fruits in the oven, so DO NOT EVEN TRY.) Better luck next week.


Talking about ... Gauthier Destenay

Amidst all the media coverage of the president's first trip abroad, one story stuck out to me. When the wives of NATO leaders gathered for a day of tours and museum visits in Brussels. they were joined by Gauthier Destenay, the husband of Luxembourgish Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, the only openly gay head of government in the world. This isn't Destenay's first time on the world stage: the couple, who have been together for nearly a decade, recently made waves when they visited the Vatican together earlier this spring. But reporters went crazy with stories about the "First Gentleman" amidst the First Ladies of NATO ... and since it is always nice to have your favorite grand duchy go viral for something positive (looking at you, #LuxLeaks), I am all about it!

Reading ... Walkable City

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time was published in 2012, but since I often joke that Brussels lags about five years behind the United States in terms of trends, you could argue that my recent discovery is actually right on time. Written by architect and city planner Jeff Speck, Walkable City provides fascinating look at role of walkability in the revitalization of Americans cities. Over a couple hundred pages and dozens of compelling case studies, Speck argues that walkable cities are better cities, and lays out the steps necessary to make that happen. It's informative, accessible, and so interesting that you won't be able to stop yourself from spewing fun facts about walkability to everyone you know. Just ask anyone I've talked to in the past month!

Thinking about ... Luxembourg!

I spent the past couple of days in Luxembourg representing the Fulbright Commission at the fourth annual Transatlantic Dialogue: Creating Human Bonds through Cultural Diplomacy. The conference brought together higher education professionals and artists from the United States, Luxembourg, and neighboring European countries to discuss questions related to education, art, diversity, and more.

Of course, the best part of the conference was getting to spend time in my favorite little country.


  1. Avocados are tricky; enjoyed this last of May and awaiting June's