Quotes

Feb 13, 2014

Unhand Me (We Protest Part Deux): Tomme des Rousses

THE STORY:

One morning last May, I need to cross in front of the Jardin des Plantes where one last-gasp anti-gay marriage march is grouping. Pippa spots a trove of rainbow flags and, assuming it's a counter-protest booth, we ask if we can have one. "Gladly!" Well, then I unfurl the flag and discover that they have actually spray-painted their anti-gay marriage symbol (heterosexual family holding hands) across the rainbow.


However, it's a large enough flag that I can just leave it half-rolled, and I then proceed to march through the demonstration with my rainbow flag, giving all the marchers a big thumbs down. Pippa appreciates that I'm not screaming my opposition and believes I'm doing it to save her the embarrassment, but really it's only because there is no way I can shout over the megaphones, speaker systems, and thousands of people that are marching.

I drop Pippa off then cross the march area again alone. That's a good thing, because a man comes up to me and -- seeing that I am ostentatiously carrying an opposition rainbow flag (little does he know I got it from his own side!) -- physically attacks me. Folks, I may be small, but I'm feisty. And, apparently, quite foul-mouthed about it. A string of loud English obscenities comes out of my mouth as I kick him, pry his fingers from my arm and flag, and shove him away. Somebody has to keep him from coming back at me, and let me tell you, it's a good thing for his own sake that they do, because I am building up to explosive levels of rage. I would say, "Unhand me, good sir!," except that he's no good sir. Plus, my swearing is not Shakespearean. It is entirely possible that I give him not only what he deserves, but also, frankly, a decade's worth of don't-curse-in-front-of-the-kids, cathartic, pent-up swearing.

 
 
For sheer ridiculousness, my two favorite signs/slogans in the protest are "After you, Mr. President!" as if the law actually forces everybody to get married to somebody of the same sex. And the other is "Last Mother's Day!" Because once gay people can get legally married, there will no longer be mothers, or appreciation for them. I see.


On our way home, we try to avoid the manifestation route but end up crossing it anyway. In two separate instances, we are stopped by older women who smile at us and echo the thumbs down I'm giving the march. Huzzah to these open-minded little old French ladies!

 

One night soon after, Notre Dame is absolutely swarming with police in riot gear. Pippa asks why, and one of them tells her there is a "risk of a demonstration." Gigi looks at the line-up of police vans, with more officers inside, and comments, "That looks like more than just a 'risk'." What she doesn't know is that about a week earlier, a crazed anti-gay-marriage right-wing nutjob left a note on the altar of Notre Dame and then blew his brains out with a gun. To which I say (and I realize this makes me sound horribly callous and inhumane), "Good riddance." The cathedral was evacuated and locked up for the first time in something like thirty years.

The next day, a pro-gay marriage nutjob re-enacted the scene by pointing a fake gun in her mouth in the cathedral. She was shirtless, with "May Nazis rest in Hell" written across her bare chest. So, you can see why the police get a little over-zealous.
 

Meanwhile, the state has been performing gay marriages for about half a year, but the protests aren't over. Just this month, 80,000 people (according to the city, and 500,000 according to the marchers themselves) demonstrated in Paris against same-sex marriage. At this point, I don't think they have any hope of reversing the law, but in the expression of their displeasure, they are certainly causing a lot of traffic problems, metro station closures, and news buzz.


Despite the protestors' fears, as far I know, I am still a mother, the President is still not married (to a man or woman), and my children still appreciate me (when I'm not embarrassing them. Which is often).

THE CHEESE: Tomme des Rousses

Tomme des Rousses is a raw cow's milk cheese from the Jura, which is Comté country. But while a Comté is nutty, sweet, and tangy, the Tomme des Rousses is a little nutty, sweet, and tangy -- yet in a completely different way. My friend Alexia, who brings this cheese home to Paris from a cross-country ski weekend in the Jura, loves Comté but finds this too strong. I'd say it's not that it's necessarily stronger than a Comté, it's that it has a more sour-milk element to its tang, a less fruity sweet, and a farmy-er twinge to its nuttiness.


It's rubbery to cut, then soft and mouth-melting. I may have anesthetized myself to strong cheeses, but I really like it. I don't know that I'll ever see it again, since I can't find any reference to it and have never seen it sold in Paris, but I'll enjoy the chunk that Alexia gives me, fresh from the mountains.

THE CONNECTION:

In honor of the Sochi Olympics and protest of Russia's anti-gay laws, it's part two of We Protest! When I first heard of this cheese from my friend Alexia, I understood it to be "Tomme des Russes" -- and "Russes" means Russians. Though I suspected it has nothing to do with Russians, it turns out I've misheard anyway, and it's actually "Tomme des Rousses." The word "rousses" itself could mean "redheads", but in this context in simply refers to the name of the village where it's made. This happens to be right next to another village of Bois d'Amont, in which is located Prémanon, the training center for many of France's cross-country ski Olympians. 

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