Nov 24, 2015

Suspicious Fruit Sauce: Maigre du Nord


Bruxelles is on lockdown, the streets of central Paris are certainly quieter than usual, and nearly every outing begs the question "Is our destination even going to be open? Is it safe? And how can we get there?" On Friday, a week after the Paris terrorist attacks, Pippa misses gymnastics because the metro line we want shuts down for a "colis suspect" ("suspicious package"). By the time we can re-orient, she'll get there too late. I write a note to her coach to explain but mis-type it as "coulis suspect" ("suspicious fruit sauce"). I plan to attribute it to auto-correct.


Nov 15, 2015

The Irony and the Tragedy: P├ętafine


Paris, peaceful. What is should look like. What it should feel like.

On Friday, the day of the attacks, I pass by this sign which reads, in translation, "We, French Muslims, against the terrorism of the UOIF" (which stands for Union des Organisations Islamiques de France). In the background is the Institute du Monde Arabe, the Institute of the Arab World, a very open and welcoming museum and center for learning in the 5th arrondissement, not too far from the Great Mosque, which saved hundreds of Jews in World War II.

Nov 10, 2015

Hundred Year Old Bread: Bonette

I know, you're waiting to hear about where we've moved in Paris (and while we're at it: I know the formatting is off here, but I still barely have internet, so we'll all just have to suffer through it), but for now, you're getting a story about French bread. Traditional French bread. Really traditional French bread. Scattered throughout the countryside of France, you'll find a handful of truly old-style bread bakeries, with wooden ovens and a hundred years of soot on the walls. So I guess it's not the bread that's 100 years old (thank goodness, or it'd be mighty stale) but rather the method. 

Nov 4, 2015

Toto, We're Not in Kansas Anymore: Le Gratte-Cul


If the 800 year old cathedrals, cobble-stoned streets, and bread bakers on every corner aren't enough to remind me, within the past 24 hours, several other things have really driven home the fact that I'm not in the US. One is this sign for the restaurant called, essentially, "The Happy Negro" with its picture of a happy black servant waiting on a very upper-crust white client.

Oct 22, 2015

Adieu to our Home: Saint Leu


Moving day turns out to be a pretty moving day for us. Just before we have to move out of our home for four years, on Ile St. Louis, we realize that Pippa no longer remembers our house in San Francisco, so this is literally the only home she knows. Needless to say, there are many tears as we leave. Thank goodness we're only leaving for the 5th arrondissement, and not leaving Paris altogether, or we'd be a complete mess. What's amazing is that for the entire week beforehand, it's as if our view is giving us the grandest, most loving send-off it can: gorgeous sunset after gorgeous sunset, with some fabulous night and day views thrown in for good measure.

Oct 7, 2015

Voodoo Medicine: Foujou


Give me a placebo, a miracle lotion, or some snake oil, and I'll show you about 60 million French people that believe wholeheartedly in its healing powers. The feeling here is that if it fizzes, comes in a handy dispenser, tastes bad, tastes good, must be dissolved in water, must be eaten dry, gets rubbed in, or is shoved up the ass, then it must certainly work. No matter what the claim, the French buy in.

Oct 2, 2015

Brunner. It's a Thing: Brebiro


I dub it "brunner". The French, however, call it "le brunch", even though they have no idea why they are calling it "le brunch" and do not actually understand that it's a combination of the words "breakfast" and "lunch". I have no idea why they are calling it "le brunch" either, for different reasons: in general, the restaurants start serving it after noon -- sometimes well after noon -- till almost dinner time. Therefore "brunner" (breakfast, lunch, dinner) it is.

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