Greetings from the McDonald’s near our new place! Excuse a whiny American for a moment, but we still won’t have internet for two weeks. The horror! The HORROR! And my watercolors ran away with my sanity. It’s about to get real interesting here. But nothing pumps me up in the morning better than a McCappuccino and a hair whipping response to Carly Rae Jepsen. And that Bruno Mars sings with such conviction! I’m lovin’ iiii..nevermind.
Allez, must seize the day! Drawer organizers must be ordered and door handles must be handled.
One of the first things I have learned living in France is that non happens much more quickly than what you want to hear. Similarly, customer service follows the same philosophy. Every time I ask where to find something at the grocery store, I get a few shrugged shoulders and a je ne sais pas. But luckily, I have found a place where useful information is generously rationed, at the biweekly, neighborhood market. And wouldn’t you much rather take advice from an artisan? Recently, I’ve been experimenting with smaller, inexpensive, more sustainable fish like mackerel and sardines. Truite rose, or rainbow trout, a distant cousin of salmon, caught my eye. I quickly inquired how my fishmonger would prepare it. He suggested en papillote, or wrapped up and baked in parchment paper. I brought the little beauty home, stuffed her with a few lemon slices, parsley, plopped on a nob of better, sea salt and sealed her in egg-brushed parchment. Cooking the trout precisely for 15 minutes at 250 C or 480 F, we were left with a perfectly cooked fish for two. Although the truite rose itself is not as tasty as its oilier predecessors like sardines and mackerel, this non-recipe recipe can be suited to any fish with any combination of herbs and aromatics. Just ask your poissonnier!
Which aromatics would you add to your truite en papillote?
Very few cafes have the same open charm and open arms as Cafe Titon on the corner of Rue Chanzy and Rue Titon. On a no-frills corner in the 11e arrondisement, Cafe Titon opens up like a clamshell onto the street. Maybe it is the ancient stone mosaic tiles geometrically breaking up the floor or the makeshift loveseat of beatup leather armchairs pushed together. Photos are hung back-to-back to engage patrons and the passerby. The wraparound bar’s stocked shelves of Paulaner glasses and a currywurst special on the menu are a subtle wink to the fact that Cafe Titon is Paris’s Germanophile bar. An overhead projector broadcasts football matches,riling up a rowdy crowd in the evenings.
It is one blueberry scone and chai latte away from being a coffee shop in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Wicker Park, Chicago, or anywhere but here. But I will spare the comparisons and embrace the currywurst, the beer on tap, and maybe even football!
We are in the demolition stage of our new apartment. This morning, as we walked into the place for our daily visit, our quirky 1950s flat to-be was transformed into the town of Bedrock. Before I could even say “Wow, what a dump!”, “Ohmygawwwwputainmerde!” My first step into the apartment, I got a nail in the foot. The throbbing pain was the least of my worries. Since I have the undisputed Generation Me dilemma of not having had health insurance since my shatterproof undergraduate days, I was sure I could feel my jaw locking in the matter of moments. Luckily, I had an unsuccessful semester in grad school that got me up to speed on that important tetanus shot. Phew!
To help ease the pain, I was whisked off for lunch at the hyper-popular food truck Le Camion Qui Fume by mon mari qui fume. Le Camion Qui Fume ends the search for an authentic American cheeseburger in Paris. Although there are imposters on every cafe menu, 18 euros for a dry, uninspired hamburger on an industrial bun is not worth the ho-hum indulgence. Food trucks have not taken off in Paris yet, partially considering that the French cannot eat with their hands alone. But fellow American expat Kristin Frederick has mastered the right fatty mix of ground beef, the soft, butter-brushed sesame seed buns, real cheddar and shoestring fries to cheer up any expat having a bad day. Although the truck changes locations everyday, we dug into our burgers on the steps of the Église de la Madeleine overlooking the Place de la Concorde. And at just 10 euros for a burger and fries, there is no better bargain or breathtaking view.
Yaourt. Although my tongue still hasn’t wrapped around the right pronunciation yet (Is it yAo-oort? YA-OOrt? Ya-oURt?), I’ve never loved yogurt more. Just take a look at the selection!
Today, on this dreadfully dreary day in Paris, jessiekanelos.wordpress.com delivers its first taste of hard journalism. I will test the limits of my curiosity and my lactose tolerance for the hard facts on my neighborhood grocery’s yogurt isle.
I never really like yogurt in the States because there really is not much variety. It is often overly sweet with cloying artificial flavors. Wouldn’t you think yogurt cultures would be canceled out by a cotton candy flavor? It gets more and more difficult to find a plain version. However, according to Wikiyogurt, the French eat around 21 kilos of yogurt a year. French fridges are continuously well-stocked. It is a go-to breakfast, snack, and dessert. But the word yaourt can be deceiving. It often refers to the cream desserts, pudding cups, and often single-serving desserts that share the yogurt isle.
How clever! Yogurt with the granola already mixed in!
Licorice and mint? Some flavors are better admired than tried.
Porfiteroles, clafoutis, creme brulee, chocolate mouse. Just take a look at the Greatest Hits of French desserts carefully disguised among the yogurt. Everywhere I look in Paris these days, there is a new USA burger, bagel & cookie diner. The yogurt isle is just as trendy with its “le cheese cake” and “les cookies”.
Oh hello, cottage cheese. Fancy seeing you here!
Speaking of plain yogurt, there is just as much variety to be found. I am one spoon away from exposing it tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Paris is begrudgingly hailed by some Parisiens as a Disneyland for Americans. Frankly, it is a moveable feast for all the world’s wealthy gobsmackers. But did you know that EuroDisney is the most-frequented attraction in France? Hands down, it beats both the Eiffel Tower and the new Abercrombie & Fitch on the Champs Élysées. (But don’t worry, I still have seen Parisien women wearing neither sweatpants nor the A&F bedazzled bottom variety.)
Considering my childhood dreams were A.) to convince my parents to take me Disneyworld and b.) become a Snow White impersonator by trade, it was not difficult to enjoy EuroDisney. Regardless of its European sensibilities like Perrier on tap, like any Disney institution, the pizza at Euro Disney is still bad. But how about those Mickey Mouse meringues?
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!