Lightbulb vases from everybody’s favorite concept store, Merci.
Merci. 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais 73003 Paris.
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an illustrated journey of an american in paris
All paper trails lead to France. I have a highly-anticipated rendezvous to renew my visa tomorrow. I thought being married would alleviate my copious photocopying in preparation for the French Prefecture, but I have made a grand total of 212 photocopies for my appointment. I was photocopying at Monoprix so long, I memorized the playlist. It was the first time since 1996 I was able to relearn the words to “I Believe I Can Fly.” Forgive me, dear rainforest. Marianne made me do it.
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This weekend I was cruising the streets on my velo. All of a sudden, a cop on a bike swerved in front of me. “Madame!” He shouted. “What did I do? I’m pretty sure I already paid my taxes. France cannot get rid of my just yet.” I thought in a panic. “Did you lose your telephone by chance?”, he smiled with a judgmental twinkle in his eye. Patting myself down, my phone was nowhere to be found “Wait a minute, madame.” His colleague cruised up with my mobile. If it were seconds later, my phone would have been smashed to smithereens. I bowed my head in both gratitude and embarrassment. A Parisian miracle indeed.
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In my mind, no home is complete without garlic and anchovies sizzling away somewhere in a frying pan. However, despite the absolute obsession France has for food, cooking odors are considered an unappetizing after effect. Having cooked for several French families, I was always scolded for cooking garlic and carefully instructed to close all doors leading to the kitchen. Even when we were renovating our apartment, our contractor insisted we put a door on the kitchen to block off any second-hand fumes. It is no wonder mon mari disapproved of the cinnamon stick caramel apple candles my mother recently sent in a care package. Figure-toi.
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I have relished in the fact that Halloween is thankfully optional in France here. Now, what to do with all that pumpkin? Although living in France has all its discoveries and indulgences, it takes a trip across town for a mere can of overpriced American pumpkin. Although I have made the recent discovery of pumpkin puree at Picard, the lifesaving frozen food emporium, it is a cinch to master at home. Bonne baking!
*A spooky after effect of Halloween and a new I-PAD, excuse my serial killer handwriting.
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Cheesy old me, there is nothing that puts a twinkle in my toes and opens my eyes more to the beauty of Paris than hearing an accordian playing on the street. I have possibly seen Funny Face too many times, but nothing turns Paris into a soundstage quicker than a little live music. Moving from New York to Paris, the first thing I noticed was that metro musicians are on a French schedule. They stay put on a car, performing a whole concert (from “Comme d’habitude” to “New York, New York”) for their audience of zombies, never sacrificing their artistic merit for a few extra centimes. Last week, I saw a fearless Michael Jackson impersonator moonwalking his way down line 1, from Chateau de Vincennes all the way to La Defense. I did not even see him solicit money. In New York, musicians hussle their way through the Metro, maximizing their productivity, hitting and quitting each car between two stations.
I love street performers. There is no better way to snap out of reality for a few short minutes. Or maybe it is just what reality is.
Bon week-end, les amis.
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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?