Mar 31, 2015

The Miss List: Petit Séverin


There are the things I expected to miss, the things I initially missed, and, almost four years later, the things I really miss. Then there are the things I'm going to miss. The biggest problem with living in new places is that you realize, at some point, that there are people and things in each place that you love with all your heart, but it's impossible to assemble them all in one place.

Mar 28, 2015

Under Construction: Le Claousou Brebis


In the "clever solutions" category: What's a city to do when it's a) constantly in need of renovation and, therefore, under construction, b) constantly in need of funding, c) heavily dependent on its beauty for the tourism economy, and d) unable to authorize a lot of billboards because of the old architecture (and because of reason c)?

Mar 26, 2015

Down the Toilet: Massipou


This blog is really going down the crapper, because I'm going to talk about toilets -- again! When I first moved here and was chaperoning at the swimming pool, I offered to help a little girl get to "la toilette". She cocked her head, quizzically: "It's 'les toilettes'," she corrected me. "I'm 6 years old, and I know that. Why don't you?!"

Mar 24, 2015

It Was Inevitable: Tomme Blanche


I've been taking painting classes and painting a lot lately because, well, my inner painter was screaming to be let out. And if I'm going to paint, it seems like the kind of thing I should do in Paris, in a beautiful atelier at the end of an old, cobblestone courtyard in the Marais.


Mar 22, 2015

Beware the Air, Part Deux: Brousse de Brebis


Almost exactly one year later, we find ourselves again in a Paris with air pollution warnings; a Paris with a sky that unnaturally gray, even for Paris; a Paris where it's not the love in the air or the magic in the air that's palpable -- it's the air itself.

On the positive side, at least riding the metro is free.

Mar 20, 2015

Eclipsing the Eclipse: Vermenton


I didn't know about today's total (in parts of the North Atlantic ) and partial (in much of Western Europe) eclipse until yesterday, and that's partly because I checked out this whole week for a vacation with a couple friends in Lisbon, Portugal. And it's a good thing, because on the way home this morning, I get lucky and see something I couldn't have seen if I'd stayed in Paris: an eclipse the likes of which won't be seen (in Europe at least) till 2026.

Mar 18, 2015

Suck On This: Bonde d'Antan


I have no official statistics on this -- none! But anecdotally, I'm telling you, French kids use pacifiers more than American kids. Not just more, but longer. I often see French children walking around at age three, four, even five with their dummies stuck in their mouths.

Now this guy is so little, he doesn't even know he has hands, so not only can he not be expected to find a thumb if he needs one, he can clearly be excused for sucking, Maggie Simpson-style. One of the words for pacifier in French is "sucette" ("sucker"). The other is "tétine", which relates to "téter" ("to nurse"). No matter what you call it, it does its job and pacifies him.

But I start to find it a little surprising when the child is walking around, heading off to school with actual books and homework and backpacks. However, in the spirit of not wanting to be one of those judgmental parents, let me also say that there are exactly zero kids in Pippa's 5th grade class (CM2) or Gigi's 7th grade (5ème) class who still suck on pacifiers, so one way or the other, they get rid of them eventually.

Hold the presses: I have found one statistic: a small study conducted in Auvergne a few years ago in which 106 children were asked about pacifier use. 47% of them had used a pacifier for an average of 37 months. That means there were some who gave it up at one and others who didn't give it up at five.

This tendency to prolonged use of the pacifier may explain some of the bad teeth issues of French kids (pardon the teeth, and the pun).

THE CHEESE: Bonde d'Antan

The Bonde d’Antan, or "plug of yore", hails from Poitu, on the west coast of France, an area known for fabulous goat cheeses. I suppose it looks like the old-fashioned cork plugs that would have been used for barrels. However, this Bonde is made from pasteurized goats' milk, instead of raw, and I think the difference shows. It's a little bland for my taste, though I suppose if you like your cheeses pasteurized and mellow, it would be just fine.

The texture is nice -- a firm puck with some creaminess in the center. The flavor is mild, but has small hints of salt, goat, and nuts.


A "bonde" is a plug, which strikes me as the perfect cheese equivalent of a pacifier/ dummy/ sucette/ tétine.

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