Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Le Bon, le mal, et le moche

In addition to researching, and in addition to sight-seeing and wandering around like a slack-jawed tourist (in researching I mostly sit around like a slack-jawed moron), being in Paris has also included the matter-of-fact necessities of just living in a new place. In these first couple of weeks of living the Parisian life, I have found that many things are quite great (to either my expectation or surprise), while others are surprisingly disappointing, bad, or just strange.  So here, for your perusal, are some culinary ouis and nons of my Parisian life so far.



The mere thought of eating bread in America again fills me with dread.  It is actually true that the Parisians walk around carrying baguettes of bread, sometimes with the top nibbled off, because sometimes it is so warm and inviting when you get it, that you can't help but have a little snack.  I have my choice of a number of boulangeries within 5 minutes of my apartment and not only do they sell bread, but also marvelous little pastries as well.   It is great, because not only can I say "une baguette, s'il vous plaît" with the best of them, but then you get to go home and eat some baguette.  It is great all around.

Me and my baguette, being all Parisienne.

There is a chance I am drinking way too much wine.  But hey, when you are alone and researching, and your only companions are a blog, some French tv, and a bottle of wine, you start getting pretty cozy with the bottle of wine.   Though my unrefined palate (see below) struggles with differentiating between cheap and expensive bottles of wine, I am still pretty sure you can get a good bottle of wine here for less than a couple of euros.  And that is pretty great.


Hello my name is Jen and I love French butter.  Two factors are at play here.  1) French butter is truly better than American butter.  That is a fact.  Did you know that the French have different types of butter?  And that one of these butters has bits of salt in it?  AMAZING!!   2) In America, being all health conscious and such, I don't really eat butter.  In France, I tend to do as the French do, and therefore have picked up a number of French habits, such as butter-eating.  In addition, walking numerous miles a day means that I am burning up extraordinary amounts of calories.  As a result, I am actually losing weight while my diet consists primarily of wine, butter, and bread.  Should I come back to Columbus and gain 50 pounds, it will be because I have no doubt convinced myself that butter is a diet food.


I don't know what it is, but French pizza is particularly delicious, once you can work past the cultural barriers to order it.  Jay and I wanted to stay in one night, but still wanted to experience some French restaurant culture, so we decided to find some pizza à emporter (carry out).  Thankfully, one of the waitresses there took pity on my paltry French, and worked us through the procedure in English.  Pizza (at least at this particular establishment) is ordered by weight, rather than slices.  We might have stood there all night asking for a couple of slices of pizza, while the waitress kept asking us in frustration to just tell us how much pizza we wanted.  Next time, I will walk in confidently, and order a couple hundred grams of pizza.  Pas de problem.



Allow me to clarify.  It is not that French cheese is bad (it is absolutely not), but rather that as an uninformed consumer, going to the fromagerie is dangerous business.  Prior to coming to Paris, I would have believed my palate able to withstand the strongest of tastes.  After all, I live on black coffee and was one of the primary instigators (you know who you are [Brady]) of the infamous Christmas Mushroom Incident.  Nope.  I am a cheese wuss.  I really wish I could adore cheese that smells vaguely (or entirely) of bodily excrement, but that cultured I am not.


The French are not stupid.  They put all their energies in some places (bread, wine, cheese, etc.) and have left the rest to outsourcing.  Why brew beer when the Belgians, Dutch, and Germans are so good at it?  A pression (draft beer) at the café after a hot Parisian day is an incredible delight, but only when the beer isn't French.


First of all, anybody who has worked at a coffee shop for numerous months is going to have some serious trouble adapting to the civilian lifestyle.  What do you mean I don't have access to unlimited espresso every day????  Coffee at a café in France is alright, but those euros add up.  When you can buy a decent bottle of wine (see above) for around the same price as a coffee (i.e. an espresso), you start watching your café euros fairly carefully.  At home, you can make Nescafe or drip coffee.  Despite the name "French" press, I do not actually have one, so I have been making my drip coffee with a coffee pot and some Commerce Equitable (Far Trade) coffee.  I don't know what it is (but I know it isn't me), but that coffee just ain't good.  Maybe it is the water, maybe it is the lack of freshly ground beans, but it just isn't not working for me.  Thus--I drink mostly Nescafe every day.  I work at a Fair Trade Coffee Shop and I am drinking instant coffee every day.  That is some screwed up merde right there, mes amis.  When I get home, I am going to hit Global Gallery Coffee Shop so fast it will make your head spin.

1 comment:

  1. Your problem may be the Far Trade coffee. I'd try the Fair version next time and see if that helps... ;-)

    I will also bring some Cafe Fem and a French Press with me (assuming you can take these things through customs) as I will not be able to adapt to the civilian lifestyle that quickly...