I usually have no problem putting my own foot in my mouth, but my phone has been helping me out a lot lately.  Bless its heart though, the poor thing isn’t completely bilingual yet either.  It has not adapted its predictive text to French yet.  Consequently, I have sent a few doozies lately.

When a friend texted proposing to get a coffee, intending to reply “oui, avec plaisir” (aka “I’d love to!”), my phone responded with “oui, avec plaudit”.  No, we did not plan a rendezvous, but rather a rigoletto.  Comment-allez vous?  Comment-allez voucher.  Fortunately, my phone has a thing for the opera; he will do just fine here.

Picture a Pita

Fly me to the Moon

I have been on a bit of a bread-making kick lately.  As of now, I have not whipped up anything to give the four boulangeries on my block a run for their money.  Most everything has been a bit doughy and heavy-handed like all amateur homemade bread.  However, I came across a terrific recipe for pita on one of my favorite foodie sites, Gilt Taste.  (Check it out here at http://www.gilttaste.com/stories/4806-make-perfect-pita).  ‘Pita, you say?  How granola of you to make,’ you must be thinking.  ‘You might as well start making your own Windex and growing your own flaxseeds.”  But at the end of the day, it’s something a bit less traditional to mess up, right?  To my chagrin, it’s more or less the same recipe as pizza dough.  But with the dough, there is more rolling than the Harlem Globetrotter-twirling pizza treatment.

And what’s the greatest part about homemade pita?  Although there is no instant gratification in bread-making, there will be instant gratification when it hits the table.  And I can attest for a lot of friends who have minimal NYC and/or twenty-something kitchens.  Pita can be cooked either in an oven or in a skillet.  Alongside some store-bought hummus, tabbouleh, and other Mediterranean accoutrement, it’s an instant party!

$hit Americans $ay in Paris

Two months ago on Youtube, every subculture, city resident, ethnic group, and household item had a lot of shit to say.  “Shit New Yorkers Say” “Shit My Nigerian Dad Says” “Shit My Towel Says”.  And there were a lot of unfortunate wigs and accents along the way.   As soon as “Shit Shit Says” came out, the trend was a bit tired for my brilliant “SHIT AMERICANS SAY IN PARIS!”  Reviewing my shelf of Eiffel Tower bedazzled diaries from the past, I had enough material to whip up a script, a storyboard, and all both of my friends to make this thing viral.  But alas, I saw today that someone by the name of Ludovig beat me to it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rriaeKyRVis)  Luckily none of our one-liners overlap.  And don’t worry, this American here has a lot of Shit to Say, too.  So here is my own material for your viewing pleasure, minus some unfortunate time of me on camera.

"Yes, I speak French. I took it sophomore year."
"That is SO Fah-RENCH!"

 

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An Ode to my Apron

 

 

So, what did this newlywed domestic diva ask her husband for her birthday?  A sophisticated apron, of course. I have recently launched into a new career as a food stylist.  But I cannot get just any apron dirty.  Nonetheless, to prevent any such birthday surprises, we went shopping for it together several weeks ago.  I have always adored those fluffy, froufrou aprons from Anthropologie.  You know the ones with a pocket for a Diptyque candle and another for a green drink?  However, I needed an apron to communicate that I am serious, capable, and have good knife skills.  Needless to say, if you are looking for the best array of quality home goods in Paris, specifically the best selection of aprons, Lafayette Home Opera is the place.  There are several walls of aprons and matching accessories of every color, pattern, and persuasion.  And I found a real beaute.  What kind of chicery is this, you might ask?  It’s purple ombre canvas with a discrete and slimming kangaroo pocket, perfect for an I-phone or a snack. And I couldn’t resist adding on a matching oven mit and kitchen towels.  I’m a real housewiii, I mean, food stylist now!

HAPPY JOUR DE MACARON! HAPPY SPRING! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Flowers from our petit jardin. Spring has sprung!

Today is my birthday!  And the first day of Spring!  And it also happens to be the ‘jour de macaron’!  I was born on a good day.  Free macarons!  Thanks http://parisbymouth.com/ for sharing this.  If you’ve never tried a macaron before, they are the semi-precious confectionary jewel of certain French patisseries.  Crisp on the outside, unctuously intense on the inside.  Although the macaron trend is going strong in the States, I’ve never wasted my time finding an American equivalent.   (Have you found any good macarons in the USA yet?)  So shortly after I started planning my trick-or-treat-style macaron conquest, I realized that France doesn’t follow the same ‘demand and supply’ criteria as Halloween or that happy, happy day when Ben & Jerry’s gives out a free scoop in the States.  Eloquence is key to getting anything done in France.  Everything needs to be stated precisely and efficiently.  So I strutted into Dalloyau, a local participant.  I inquired ever-so politely in my most proper French, “Good day, dear sir.  Do you happen to be participating in this joyous day of macaron?”  Pause.  “Yes, in fact we are.  If you happen to participate in a tasting, you are certainly welcome.”  “Uhhh, yeeaah!…I mean, if you please.  I will take a vanilla, kind sir”  A little coercing for a small treat.  I should have mentioned my birthday first thing.

Take advantage of the beautiful day.  And a macaron too, if you please.

La Rentrée

And we’re back.  Phew!  The worst part about all the vacations in France is the constant ‘rentree’ or begrudgingly going to back to reality.  I can always sense the day of the rentree.  Parisiens walk the streets grumbling with their heads held lower.  I can hear more crying babies in the distance.  The Paris sky is a little bit more grey than usual.  Chatter is instantly consumed with talk of  the next vacation.  And ‘watch your step’ refers rather to the deposits of naughty dogs than to Alpine ice.

But Spring is about to put all the grey days to rest!  The trees are on the verge of blooming.  And the 5 bank holidays in May will swiftly bring the summer vacation.  Oh, and there’s the two-week Easter vacation somewhere in between, too.

What Me Hungry?

I’m still in the French Alps.  Remember I mentioned eating 5-course meals gracefully?  Well, I thought raclette, being a single-course and all, would be a good breather.  Mind you, it was my first time.  But alas, at the end of the day, it’s just a glob of melted cheese.  Poured on top of potatoes, accompanied with charcuterie, it is hearty, mountain food at its best.  But I feel like I really should have skied or chopped wood beforehand to truly enjoy it.  It’s a good thing we did not order a cheese fondue for the first course.  After 4 days of eating 3 courses (onion tarte, boeuf bourguignon, caramel tarte) at lunch and 5 courses at dinner (veloute de cepes, escargot, filet de lotte, fromage, royal chocolat) my moderation is finally sinking in.  Does this mean I’m becoming more French?

Anyway, I love a multi-course meal.  It’s always been treat since I first discovered the soup, salad, entree, jello/rice pudding option at the local Chicago Greek diners of my youth.  However, after 5-courses, I am usually on the brink of explosion.  And what’s a proud member of the clean-plate/waste-not club to do?  But here is what I have learned from experience.   Although everybody loves a generous plateau of Alpine cheeses to choose from, choose either cheese or dessert.  Or eat a small portion of each.  Incorporate vegetables when possible, if given a choice.  Stay hydrated during the day.  And move around as much as possible.  I’m starting to feel a bit of empathy for food critics…

Les Vacances.

Bridget Bardot, my snow bunny inspiration. theselvedgeyard.wordpress.com

The first weeks of March, all the French people I know flock to the French Alps for the obligatory February ski trip.  Luckily, I am a part of the majority this week; it’s a family tradition of my new in-laws.  Bonjour, French Alps!  Bonjour, Mother-in-Law!  We are in Meribel, a favorite ski station of Bridget Bardot.  Unfortunately, I do not ski or snowboard.  And I have not found a good snow sport compatible with my two left feet.  Any recommendations?  In the meantime, I’m trying out the snow bunny look and learning to eat 5-course meals gracefully.  More on that soon…

P.S.  Sorry I forgot my camera!  I will let Bardot do the talking.

Souvenir de Paris

As much as I am continually charmed by the life in France, some things lag behind. For example, to complete most bureaucratic tasks (banking, visas, health insurance), a secretary hands me a blank piece of paper to put my request in writing. Most secretaries have a desk piled-high with said requests. Hmm.

Peeling paint and spiderwebs are often a part of the decor.

Our old washing machine has been bust for months now. I’ve been begging my husband to ditch it. However, there is only one issue; it is also our only counter space. How I long for one of those stainless steel and granite American-style kitchens with a French-doored refrigerator and a freezer larger than a shoebox!

Finally, the other night I was brushing my teeth on my way to bed. Not only to find a worm on the bathroom floor. Of all the things that could come off the street and into our humble bathroom, a measly little worm is the least of our troubles. But it doesn’t mean I want to have my bare feet in the proximity of an unannounced worm.

Old world charm, first world woes.

Twee for Truffe

In France, instead of calling something cute, choux (or cabbage, respectively) is a term of endearment of choice.  Does this have anything to do with the unfortunate invention of the Cabbage Patch doll?
 
And mind you, baguette refers to not only to the staple of my ex-patriotic diet, but also to magic wands and chopsticks.
 
And dogs noses are affectionately given the name of truffe.  Or the 2000 euro/per kilo mushroom. What could be more precious? Shameless plug for my pending birthday present….darling, if you are reading this, a german short-haired pointer is much less expensive than a kilo of truffles!