Kelly Kinsella


Kelly is currently performing her one-woman show: "WHEN THOUGHTS ATTACK!"

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I Finally Turned...American

I thought something was up from day one...of my arrival in Europe. Pep's Italain mother had served us some chicken soup in Cliffside Park before our 8 hour flight to Paris scheduled for a midnight departure. It tasted bland and frankly on point for a meal at 10PM on a Sunday night. On board at about 1:30am the flight attendants began to distribute "dinner" for those who paid the extra $90 for a meal and one piece of checked baggage, which I DID for both Pep and I so I woke him up in a neurotic old lady kind of way and yelled "EAT IT!" -even though Pep's 11 yr.old nephew warned us against it after recently getting sick on board a transatlantic flight from France.  "You're taking a risk." In general I prefer to take the advice of children but then my cheapness took over and I suppose boredom so I (and Pep) ate it.

Don't get me wrong, neither me nor Pep not get sick off this airplane food- in fact I kind of enjoyed the creamy texture of it and the stale roll with hard butter...but I wonder if there was some sort of cursed food portal I went through over Iceland that has caused me to reel in the face of European delicacies ever since.

My tongue feels like it's been pasteurized, my nose... lobotomized. In France it started with my trip to the infamous City Pharma in St Germain on the left bank. It was a destination for me this time around. Who doesn't love the idea of a French face cream? I didn't pack any toiletries knowing I'd be here for a month (and I paid for that checked bag), so the plan was to grab all the things at City Pharma and show Gwynnie a thing or two about shopping in Paris on a dime. I picked up a dry shampoo from Klorane, a detox nightime oil from Caudelie, an everyday moisturizer called Embroylisse that no french woman can live without and a serum from Avene. I also couldn't leave (or live) without Nuxe body oil, which I fell in love with on my last trip and costs double in the States-if you can find it. I lugged all this booty home realizing it would take up at least two bottles of wine space in my carry on. This will last me through the long New York winter! Two bottles of wine will last a week! It was all worth it. Until I started using it.

Something wasn't sitting right. The products seemed too perfumy, flowery, scenty, more than I remember them to be. I use them because I'm not an idiot but deep down inside...I'd rather have a bar of Ivory soap and call it a day. 

And then there is the issue of that camembert cheese that I bought- at the supermarket for god's sake-a real taste bud buzz kill of there ever was one but even with the Bordeaux, it had a strong ammonia taste. And then the croissant class I took at the most reputable bakery in Paris- Lenotre. After four hours of slaving away I shoved one of those pain au chocolats in my face desperate to recreate the first time I had one warm at 2am from a bakery in Switzerland after wandering home slightly tipsy from a discoteque when I was 19. Instead it tasted of raw egg and yeast. I carried my loot home on the metro and held back my distaste for the smell permeating from the carefully wrapped bag. I ate only one more in the week we were there. Croissants have been one of my favorite treats since I can remember. Not anymore. Thank god because they are a bitch to make.

And then there's the 1 star Michelin restaurant recommended to us by our Parisian friends we stay with that serves locally sourced modern french cuisine. I ordered the prix fixe- a linguni with a saffron curry topped with mini charred crustaceans resembling shrimp which you had to eat shell and all followed by the guinea fowl (pintade). I didn't know what the hell it was at the time and figured- based on the context- that it was chicken of some sort. When I asked the waiter he scoffed and said, "Oh it's 100 times better than chicken." Well guess what? According to my new palate, it wasn't. It was undercooked and rubbery and pink and a major turn off, merci beaucoup. And so was the under poached peach with no spice and some shitty cookie crumble that tasted too sweet. It was then and there that I palate is FUCKED.

I won't ramble on any more about this disaster since its my own cross to bear. But the long and short of it was I hoped Italy would save me. Somehow the fontina tastes like feet...of a leper, and the lettuce I bought from an old signora's garden tastes like sardines. All the wine tastes of a monk's moldy blanket and tonight when I prepared Pep and myself a dinner of antipasti, the ingredients of which we curated from all the specialty shops in town, I frustratingly declared as I opened a fresh packet of BREAD STICKS- "These are probably going to taste like ass!" And shockingly so they did-the ass of a goat.

How is that even possible??? Am I losing my mind?? Wild Boar is a specialty in Umbria and I imagine them running through the fields and sweating all over all the other food- the wheat, the tomatoes, the grapes, the cows... The good news is maybe I'll lose some weight. No wonder the French and Italians smoke all the time. They're starving and/or willingly extinguishing their appetite . The other day I had raw truffles in some pasta and I can't get the taste out of my mouth. It's like I've been making out with Baudelaire's dead corpse.

Right now while I write I'm sipping on some Montefalco rosso from the region. It tastes of Etruscan limestone (mined from a Roman well circa 400AD), which isn't half bad compared to the cucumbers in my insalata mista that taste as if they were pulled from St. Francis of Assisi's armpits in his crypt.

I look forward to sunken cheekbones and a 24 inch waist, unless anyone has any advice for me. Like maybe stop turning so American.


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