110 days ago
Good evening all and happy 2 February or Candlemas Day. For Christians, Candlemas commemorates the ritual presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem; for all, it also marks the halfway point of winter.
To celebrate the hope of Spring, golden sun, flowers in bud, warmth, and renewal, the French make crepes on Candlemas day. It may be sympathetic magic (golden round crepe encourages the golden round sun to return) or not. I say, gather with family and friends and feast on crepes. Savory crepes, sweet crepes, even crepes with nutella . . . whatever suits your fancy . . . and welcome Spring!
Be sure to use the best French butter, of course! Norman, Breton, or even Charentes. Doux or demi-sel and delicieux!
Have I mentioned how amazing Grand Marnier crepes are? And, how, if one is not used to drinking, one can succumb to a mild, crepe-induced euphoria? Since Grand Marnier is made with oranges, perhaps it counts as a serving of fruit.
Spring is coming.
141 days ago
A word of caution to the traveller: magnets are not always your friends. Here’s how I found that out. I love Baggalinni bags. They are good-looking (not as good-looking as Coach, Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, et al., of course), but light, sturdy, washable, and very functional for the traveller. Lots of pockets, pouches, and colors. However, they have one major design issue: many of the pockets close with magnets.
Metro tickets rely on a magnetic strip. If the tickets are, say, in one of the pockets with a magnetic closure, they will demagnatize very quickly. I learned this the hard way by getting stuck in the turnstiles, more than once because I am a slow learner, apparently. Fortunately, a young French woman saw my dilemma, asked if I preferred to speak English or French, and then explained, in excellent English, what had happened and told me to go to the Information Booth in the station. The staff there scanned the ticket, figured out how many trips were left, and issued a new one – in about two minutes or less. And, they graciously did not comment on my ignorance.
I think the story tells itself from there. However, the rest of the story is this: the French are incredibly kind and helpful, even to the obviously incompetent outsider, i.e., me.
That said, I continued to carry my Baggalinni which served me well. I just kept my tickets and museum passes well away from the magnets.
Check out their website. There’s a sweepstakes going on and the new bags look quite chic.
151 days ago
New bag and weight limits mean that backpacks are the way to go, at least on the way over. But, who can resist shopping in Paris? I mean, seriously? (Of course, diamonds don’t weigh much, but that’s another story!)
So, I took a packable tote bag, that folded into its own pouch. I spent about $30 for one that was light and tough. It was perfect for all of the shopping I did. We rented an apartment, so I carried massive amounts of food from Monoprix, even giant bottles of Evian. I loaded up from the small shops all along the Rue Cler. When the day got hot, I could strip off my sweater and stuff it in the tote bag. When the trip was over (all too soon), I checked my backpack and carried the tote, full of chocolates from Maison du Chocolat, tea from Mariage Freres, and all of my receipts, souvenirs, brochures, ticket stubs, magazines, and airplane gear. If you don’t happen to buy a tote in advance, no worries. Last time, I bought an 8 euro duffle from a street vendor near the Clignancourt flea market.
I loved the chocolates from Maison du Chocolat:
I know they’ve become somewhat cliche, but they are so delicate, so rich, so refined in size and texture. The chocolatier is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, BTW.
Mariage Freres’ Vanilles des Iles is smooth and soft and I love it. My only problem with Mariage Freres teas is the number of choices – when you go to the tea shop, hang on to the list. They have added African red teas to an already-amazing range of black, green, and flavored teas.
Much, much more to come.
268 days ago
— Wandering Man
We are a funny people, we Americans. We love our cheap chickens, despite the fact that observing their “growing” conditions would make the strongest of us wretch like the devil. We like them even as we remove them from their nearly impregnable plastic bag to cook for the long hours required to kill the copious squigly things feasting on the unexcercised flesh of these pathetic creatures, lest eating a juicy and “undercooked” chicken kill the weak and undeveloped.
But foie gras? Ah, an elitist food. Expendable. So the ducks and geese who romp merrily over the meadows and line up to get fed their corn get a legislators attention faster than a sharp stick in the jaded eye. Don’t fix the chickens, ban the foie gras! There’s the ticket!
The state of California, a shell of the progressive paradise it was in the rockin’ 70s, did just that.
But, those French, whose fries we love to hate and came from Belgium anyway, have come to the rescue! Yes, upon proof you’re a poor Californian who generally wallows in a foie gras-less state these days, a fine French bistro will give you a small helping of foie gras free!
To capitalize on the controversy—making lemonade from lemons—Jean-Claude Corda, the clever owner of the popular Bistrot des Alpilles in St. Remy de Provence is offering a free foie gras first course to any customer who shows a valid California ID. The dish, which normally sells for 14€, is served with typical accompaniments such as grilled bread and chutney.
If you truly love foie gras, you will want to read the post from which the above quote was taken in the Provence Post: Californians Get Free Foie Gras in France. You’ll find out how much better these fowl are treated than just about any animal in the US bound for the dinner table.
289 days ago
— Wandering Man
It’s funny what the human mind can remember about the past. I remember the first postcards I sent from Paris. I had to send them, just to show how backwards America was.
The flesh displayed on those picture postcards is etched into my mind. I can see them exactly as I saw them 35 years ago even now as I whack away on this grimy keyboard. I don’t know why this is. I mean I was doing some online banking the other day and the bank’s security geeks insisted I put some answers to their idiotic “security questions.” I’m sorry, but I do not remember the full name of my kindergarten teacher. I do not remember the address of my birth hospital. I do not remember the age of the aunt with the purple birthmark who got hit by a Brinks truck when I was floundering around in my wading pool at age 4 1/2 either, goddamit.
But I remember exactly the poses of the delightful french lasses as they flaunted their freedom and their obvious joy at living with the teeniest amount of cloth constricting their tan and robust bodies as was humanly possible. Imagine.
But the world is changing. All that we fought for in the 70s is lost. We are now, officially, ashamed not only of our bodies, but every body God made.
He must be feeling terrible right now. Because Parisians— Parisians of all people!—are getting their fleshy perfection shoved behind bars.
Authorities say city dwellers could face jail for sunbathing topless in parks or on riverbanks, specifying that there should be ‘no breasts or private parts’ on display. ~ Parisians face fine and jail over topless and naked sunbathing
I am sorry for the Parisians and their untanned bits. If you like imperfect tans, find out more about their beaches: Paris Plages 2012
I am going off to weep.