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.
We are finally moving into our new place today! Since we’ve been packing for nearly a month now, our life has been scattered into unfindable fragments. Note: food styling tweezers don’t do a thing for eyebrows. Anyway, the shell of our old apartment looks like a run down store-front art gallery in Belleville. Too bad we already ate all the canapés.
Helping my husband pack up his life, the only skeleton in his closet is his backbreaking collection of photo books. Needless to say, after a long winter and spring of hachis parmentier and projectfreetv, we definitely made up for lost cardio.
Despite a brutal cold and a metal pipe in the trachea, I am now relishing in the raspy voice of my dreams. If you don’t know me, I have a distinctively high voice. Like “I’m sorry, if your mother home?” kind of high. Let’s just say somewhere between boy soprano and Sarah Jessica Parker on helium. To finally have a voice deeper than my elementary English students is a thrill. But my voice is slowly creeping back. Bummer, no need for that vanity electrolarynx.
So, farewell the grimiest apartment I have ever know. You were also the happiest. You will not be missed, but you will be remembered.
The only person who loves canapés more than me is my husband. Invite us to your parties! We will bring our own toothpicks! No chip left undipped! Last night in particular, after a long day of moving into our new place, we fortunately had an excuse to leave the sad, barren apartment we are still stuck living in. Like every other night in Paris, we were invited to a ‘cocktail’. And it was straight-up search and destroy. Fetching a glass of champagne at the door, I did the preliminary scope out before the tag team, “2 o’clock, foie gras pinwheels and hummus zucchini cups. 4 o’clock, jambon de parme carving station. Crudités, zero threat. Beware of 12 o’clock! Concorde grapes+unidentifiable white fish=most unfortunate.” But my partner in canape crime lost momentum; his pacing got slowed down by conversation. But I diligently treaded on, swerving through the partygoers to find what else lurked about. “Viens VIIIIIITE!” I jumped up and down, waving my coup de champ’ across the crowd. Jackpot! Thai gambas à la minute in T minus 2 minutes!
Three hours later, the jambon de parme specialist knew my name, where I was born, and had a running count of how many chicken curry crepe triangles I had manhandled. Gourmandise, the fine line of consumption between foodie and fatty, had been crossed. But a few toothpicks of port-macerated prunes and cantaloupe sent us sweetly on our way back to our empty home. I high-fived my hubby on our way out.
“Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it.” Cole Porter wasn’t the first to witness a pigeon totem pole firsthand in the City of Lights. These lovebirds literally can’t get off one other! Needless to say, pigeons have got a good life here, much to the chagrin of homosapiens and sparrows alike. They are free to roam without a Navigo. They get weeks of paid vacation. They eat the choicest crumbs in the world, but they never get fat! They are a little aloof, but it’s probably cultural, right? But the life of a French pigeon isn’t completely careless; they are also on restaurant menus.
Now that all my creative ventures revolve around eating, I am in “foodie” territory. And nothing celebrates fooding and all of my other interests like Fricote Magazine, a French quarterly for the curious urban epicurean. Marrying food, cuisine, illustrations, design, photography, fashion, and humor, it’s a bilingual expression of everything I love. And with a steady list of food events and happenings in Paris, I can easily see myself getting involved (AKA I’m open for collaborations!).
I am happy to announce that today I reached a major milestone in my life in France. Sleepily ordering a pain au chocolat at the boulangerie this morning, the boulanger turned to me, looked me square in the eyes, and said, “Ca va?” She asked me how I was! And not in a “Damn, you look terrible! Are you still wearing your pyjama shirt?” kind of way either. France is not the kind of place where you hear “Hi, my name is Anne-Sophie. How may I serve thee today, chéri?”. It’s just not friendly. It’s just that no one cares about a stranger’s day. Only what they had for lunch. But 3 years, a lot of pocket change, and bi-daily trips later, we are now kabitzing! I need a friend like this. She answers all of my burning pastry questions. “What’s in the chocolate flan?” “It’s a flan, but with chocolate.” “How does the viennois au chocolat look when watercolored?” “I don’t know” “What’s the difference between brioche and pain au lait?” “Nothing.” It’s a shame we are moving away from my boulanger bff within the next few days. I should show my appreciation by baking her a cake. Hmmm, or maybe not.
I know I have a one-track mind; I should just give into temptation and get my Mexican fix at the new Chipotle already. But the past few months, this sign at the park at the Place de la Republique in Montreuil always stops me in my tracks. Before hopping on line 9 in search of carnitas, let me just warn you that this sign is situated in the parking lot at an isolate end of the park. Just like GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS, any word repeated three times is a promise. But no tacos are to be seen! Is this a cultural misunderstanding or false advertising? I will buy a taco for the first person who can put this mystery to rest. But that all depends on what taco means first.
The move into our new apartment has been postponed again. In anticipation, our current place has become an urban development of cardboard boxes. Although it may sound more romantic in writing, the only piece of furniture left in the living room is an ottoman. Luckily, we are still reaping the joys of being newlyweds, as we both happily squeeze on it together when using our computers. I will always accept another excuse to work in bed, too.
Otherwise, the table is long-gone and I am without a workspace. But I have formulated a staircase desk for all of my creative needs: one cardboard box for my computer, one for my watercolors, and another for the still life and/or snack of the hour. The kitchen is another story. The washing machine/counter came to the end of its life. So any serious chopping requires appetizingly propping a cutting board on the garbage can. Anyone wanna come over for dinner?
Admittedly, it has not been too bad. Fewer plates means fewer to clean. And I have ignorantly stashed away my banking paperwork into an unfindable box for the time being. For the past four years, I have been living out of my suitcase. And although it is that way at the moment, I am grateful that it is only temporary.
Paris is amidst a burger blitz. USA is the chicest marque about town. And of all the breaking news in the world, Parisien burger trucks splashed the front page of the International Herald Tribune earlier this week in Julia Moskin’s article Food Trucks in Paris? U.S. Cuisine Finds Open Minds, and Mouths. There has already been an endless flow of coverage on this sensation, thefrancofly included. But one thing that struck me was the article’s coining of the ultimate praise from French foodies, being “très Brooklyn”. As most Parisians don’t understand, Brooklyn is usually something to be avoided by New Yorkers. However, the Brooklyn philosophy of local, sustainable, simple food is exactly the idea borrowed from France that revolutionized American cuisine decades ago, thanks to other American expats candidly looking in like Julia Child and Alice Waters. So what is the big deal? The real fuss is the discovery of quality food without the formalities of traditional eating rituals. Instead of sitting down to an hour-long lunch, eating with the hands, eating on the go, or my personal favorite, eating standing over the sink, are all creeping into the new French food culture.
So what’s up next in this mini-Americanization? I’m keeping my fingers crossed for bodegas and/or CVS. Will the food truck brigade start a revolution? Raise your biodegradeable fork and say ‘oui’. Or are Parisians adapting the “très New York” pastime of voracious food trends? I will know when I hear “très Long Island City.”
The April showers turned into May showers. Come on June! Kick out the precipitation and bring in the picnics! But enough about the weather already.
I just committed the terrible sin of running errands in my nightdress. A real Franco no-no. In a culture which firmly separates the public from the private, flip-flops, pajama pants, and convenience clothes are only found behind locked doors. Needless to say, I did dress up my nightgown with a French touch, one of my husband’s v-neck sweaters. I’d like the think it was California casual with Midwestern roots. Anyway, the moment I left my flat (with all my Crocs and Snuggies padlocked behind me), I felt the first ray of premature summer sun hit my ankles. And so it begins…