Fricote, Mon Amour!

© Jessie Kanelos

Rarely do I find things that truly speak to me.  Maybe I’m generic, but I never really fit the bill of a proper sub-culture. Vintage fanatic?  Yes, but I’m missing Betty Page bangs.  Theatre major?  Yes, but I wasn’t onstage.  I was backstage wearing black frantically sewing hooks and eyes.   Lacking a social moniker, I just settled with being <***“artsy”***©>.  It gave me the social mobility to get along with everybody, except for actors.

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!).

Le bouche à oreille de Fricote ?

A Sugar-Coated Milestone

© Jessie Kanelos

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.

taco taco taco

© Jessie Kanelos

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.

Seeing in Sepia

© Jessie Kanelos

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.

Très Brooklyn

© Jessie Kanelos

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.”

Clouds over Saint-Mandé


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…