Mar 14, 2018

What's Lacking: Crémeux des Cîteaux


Though English remains our family language, we find after so many years of parler français, that there are certain French words and phrases we miss and can no longer quite express in English. Ironically, one of the words I'm annoyed I cannot express when I'm not speaking French is "dépaysement" (literally "being out of country") or that feeling of being someplace exotic and away from home. Which for me, at this point, is virtually everywhere I ever am (in Paris, I'm dépaysée, but also in San Francisco. It's either all "home" or all "exotic" to me!).

Feb 14, 2018

All Dressed Up and Snow Place To Go: Flocon de Savoie


It's been all over the news, and all over the ground: snow in Paris. My friend complained of a 739km traffic jam coming home from a ski vacation. Another complained that because so much of Paris' public transportation was paralyzed, they had to walk 4km, at night, with children, dragging ski luggage in the snow, in order to get home. Meanwhile, in Tahoe, the ski grounds of Northern California, my friends complain there's virtually no precipitation and temperatures around 60°F (that's 16°C) in the middle of winter.

Jan 31, 2018

Out of Time: Coup de Corne


To live in Paris is to live, always, a little anachronistically. There is so much old, juxtaposed against modern life. Nothing proves this point better than this sign:

Jan 18, 2018

Give Us This Day Our Day-Old Bread: Raclette Fumée


When my aunt visits Paris, she goes out to breakfast at her fancy hotel and asks for something that is not listed on the menu but that she feels certain she can obtain in France: French toast. To a Frenchman hearing these words, this means French bread (that is, baguette) toasted. This is easily done; however, it is not at all what she wants. No amount of her translating the words "French toast" into the French language can make the waiter understand that she does not want toast from French bread. What she wants, in French, is not "French toast" at all; it's "pain perdu" which literally means "lost bread."

Dec 24, 2017

The Heming-way: Domaine du Velay


Reading Hemingway's 1923 essay "Christmas on the Roof of the World," written when he was a 24-year old correspondent for the Toronto Star, makes me feel like I should write something about Christmas in Paris. Or, at least, something about Hemingway in Paris. Or, perhaps, a little of both.

Dec 7, 2017

Laughing yellow: Tomme du Pic de la Calabasse


Given the news and the state of the world, I think it's high time you learn the expression "rire jaune" which means, literally, "to laugh yellow." It's used to describe a forced, hollow laugh, the kind where you're laughing on the outside while crying on the inside. That laugh we do when watching the talk show hosts joke about current events, because they're funny, but it's rather tragic at the same time.

Nov 29, 2017

A Sporting Chance: Galet de Bigorre


I would need to take a big breath to rattle off the list of the things I would do to improve French schools, if it were up to me. But one thing I think the French do absolutely right is the sports class. Starting in primary school and all the way up till high school graduation, they have physical education classes for the kids. Not only do they devote a significant amount of time to this (a couple hours per week or so, depending on the age), they take the opportunity to expose the kids to an incredibly wide variety of activities.

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