1. Jour du Macaron. On March 20th, every cent donated towards cystic fibrosis gets a free macaron at all participating bakeries, pâtisserie powerhouse Pierre Hermé included. The joyous day happily falls on my birthday every year where I join the swarms of frantic gourmandes and Japanese tourists on a passionate mission for macarons and a cure for cystic fibrosis.
2. Competitive terraces. When the cafés turn off their outdoor heat lamps, the competition for the best terraces begins. It’s anybody’s game for the most prime real estate in town for people watching and sporadic rays of sunshine. A humble glass of Côtes du Rhône is certainly worth the price of admission.
Le Petit Fer à Cheval 30 rue Vieille du Temple 75004 Paris
3. Daffodil bouquets. This is the earliest symbol of springtime, often peddled outside of every supermarket and Metro stop on the streets of Paris.
4. The return of strawberries. With seasonal produce a prized staple in France, the first sign of anything sweet and fragile is reason enough to swear off root vegetables for as long as possible.
“Bonne fête!” mon mari sweetly exclaimed in a mid-morning call. Similarly, all the Frenchies I’ve crossed paths with today have been generous with their 4th of July wishes. But at the same time I dream of Cheddarwursts, first-degree firework singes and backyard barbecues.
I had a rendezvous in the 16eme this morning, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The most American thing I could do was point, reacquaint myself with her glory and take a proper phone pic. I assure you I wasn’t the only one.
Speaking of that little Eiffel Tower notebook, I recently rediscovered it while unpacking our new place. Like rereading any record of angstier years, I’ve needed to take a deep breath and forgive myself before looking back on my original thoughts on French guys and macarons. The shame! The SHAME! Although this is going to be either extremely entertaining or the most nauseating act of self indulgence ever, I thought I would share a few tantalizing and/or sickening reflections from my one-way flight to Paris and a live running commentary…
July 28th, 2008
“I’m ready to get this show on the road! Of course, I’m nervous. (translation: what do I need to do to get this plane to turn around?) There really is no rhyme or reason to this adventure (Except for exploiting my youthful metabolism with culinary explorations in gourmandise) . Instead of living vicariously through Audrey Hepburn or buying other people Eiffel Tower knickknacks inspired by dream-inducing cities, (By the way Carol, thanks for the journal!) I decided to do it for myself (Oh shit!). When I tell people about my adventure, I get squeals of jealous joy especially from those belonging to the female gender. (Some things haven’t changed) Much of these squeals of joy are followed with the assumption that I will marry a French dude and stay forever (Sweet foreshadowing, sweet irony). But all I can think about is how badly I want a Diet Coke right now (Baby child, how American you once were! Now I only drink red wine ’cause that’s far Frenchier). If only that punk-ass brainiac on Oprah didn’t have to drop the bomb about how unsanitary airplane ice cubes are. (Good news, I’m still cynical! And I still always regret watching Oprah) I don’t really know what to expect from this year. (Or four) I hope to learn French. (‘Voulez–vous coucher avec moi ce soir’ was not the best start)I hope to pick up journaling again. (ex: Dear Diary, let me tell you all about my first French French kiss. Cue in nausea.) Geez, I cannot even imagine blogging. I can only imagine the pressure! (4 watercolored posts a week? Are you crazy?)I worry enough that people don’t understand the irony of my Facebook profile, let alone my actual thoughts! (And we are vomiting)Excellent, just timed my nap perfectly to catch the beverage cart!”
In celebration of the 14th of July, we attended an apero on the 6th floor of an architect friend’s place in Belleville. It was younger crowd than usual. And every single one of them was an architect. But I was feeling confident. My outfit was banging and I brought fleur de sel brownies which always gives me a leg up on friend making. In America at least.
It went on like any other apero. I bought myself some time at the buffet and put out my feelers, scanning the crowd for a little eye contact and resulting chitchat. No luck. Luckily, I became well-acquainted with a friendly couple named Tarama and Blini. But it was only a matter of time before the fireworks erupted far in the horizon. In the nick of time, “Firework”, Katy Perry’s fist-pumping anthem of self-esteem came on. Her Swedish songwriters sure tugged on my cold heartstrings as I watched the Eiffel Tower blowup in the distance. Come on Jessie, just “ignite the light and let it shine!” “Boom boom boom!” You too can be brighter than the “moon moon moon!” I said to myself as I mussed up a little courage to confront the second half of the soiree. I refilled my drink.
Seconds later, as the last firework fogged up the Parisian sky, Dionysis and the little-g party gods were with us as the whole flat erupted into a collective, full-throttle dance party. Damn, these architects could flail. They could even dance to Celine Dion. Somewhere between “No Diggity” and “Wannabe”, I became fast friends with a 20-year old Danish Erasmus student. She pulled me close as we were jumping around to House of Pain, “I have a question. How old are you?” “I’m 26.” ” You seem like you are finished with partying. Why aren’t you drinking?” At this point, I already drank a whole bottle of wine and dug deep into my 1990s subconscious to recite every word of Shaggy’s “Mr. Boombastic” by heart. How dare you tell me I’m not fun! Yes, Joni Mitchell and collecting digestive teas can lead to an equally interesting evening. But those things are reserved strictly for Sunday nights. Defeated, my husband and I returned home. As my hangover carries onto its second day, I accept the fact that my idea of fun™ is not exactly the same as it was when I first arrived in Paris 4 years ago. But Shaggy will be with me for life.
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?