Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's nice to be here.

Washing and drying clothes in Seattle with my parent's american style stacking mega-machines: 60 minutes.

Washing and drying clothes in our Parisian washer/dryer combo contraption: 3 hours.

Washing and drying clothes with my in-laws washing system in Quiberon: 1 to 3 days depending on the wind and the rain.

Just saying.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grapes and Garlic

When I left Seattle four years ago the locavore and seasonal food movement was really starting to take hold. Weekly produce markets were popping up all over the place, meat lovers sought out happy meat and restaurants were dropping farmer's names like rockstars on their menus. Conscious eaters were taking an interest in heirloom vegetables, asking questions about what farmers were feeding their cows and changing the way they navigated through the continuously well stocked produce sections of American supermarkets. Eating seasonally in Seattle was a choice that required a certain amount of work, you had to turn a blind eye to the pretty red strawberries in October and head for the pears, ignore the racks of lamb in December and wait for the spring and summer months, even though asparagus was available all year round you had to figure out when the season was and only buy it then.

The French public is consistently praised for their good food habits and sensitivity to the seasonality of ingredients. Is it in their genetics? A better sense of self control? A natural born desire to respect our mother earth and only enjoy tomatoes in August? Possibly...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

12 out of 20

I first became familiar with the French grading system when I was an exchange student back in high school. Sitting in the front row of my history class I waited nervously for the professor to hand back our first papers of the year, 12/20 was written in bold on the top of the page. Oh no! 12 out of 20?! That's not even a C.

Practice brioche 
And yet to my surprise, my neighbors both leaned in to congratulated me. You see, as an American (and a competitive one at that) I was obviously shooting for a 20/20. When I shared this objective with my French counterparts they giggled and said "That's impossible, even the professors don't get 20/20. No one is THAT smart."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Room Full of Gemini

Paris is teaming with babies these days. Is it the spring? Just the natural order of things? Lamb chops for dinner and new borns in strollers? Just another month of May in Paris? Well my friends I am here to tell you that there is a lot more than happenstance going on here.

I have no doubt that those clever clever parents who gave birth this month did so with one thought in mind: May babies have the best chance of scoring a spot in the much sought after Parisian daycare system. You see daycares, or crèche in French, accept babies when they are 3 months old. This coincides perfectly with the standard 3 month long maternity leave french working women receive. The trouble is that the daycare-to-baby-ratio is way out of balance here, which means that the race to get a spot for your little cabbage is on way before they are conceived, let alone born.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Man and Other Common Enemies

One can master all of the technical aspects of a language and call themselves fluent, but one cannot say that they are truly bilingual until they are able to tell jokes and negotiate in that foreign language. I have officially given up on French humor. Their dirty jokes offend me, their sarcasm is completely lost on me and I make people laugh by saying normal things that aren't meant to be funny at all. The ability to negotiate in French, however, is my personal holy grail and I am on a quest to obtain that skill.  

The French love to say non. No is so much faster and easier than yes, yes requires work, responsibility and follow through. Whereas a quick and simple non gets the person asking you the question out of your hair instantly.... if you aren't French that is...

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Fire Part II

So there we were, surrounded by art, breathing in oxygen and staring at our neighbor pouring bottled water into a bowl for her cat. It was all very surreal.

Our building (and our apartment) has no smoke detector and no sprinkler system which is the norm in Paris. Although people assure me that there is a law in place that will require them to be installed by 2015... as an American that is accustomed to seeing fire detectors everyone it is hard for me to imagine that this law wasn't already in place years ago. It's like stepping back in time to an era when people thought cigarettes weren't bad for you and that seat-belts were a nuisance.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Fire Part I

Just when I thought I might be running low on new and interesting Parisian experiences, the universe delivered us a doozy.

Two weeks ago our apartment building caught on fire!

It's was 2am and I was up feeding Colette. Laying in bed we heard our neighbor making noise through the incredibly thin wall that separates our bedroom from his living room. He often makes noise around this time as the bars close at 2am and he is young, silly and unemployed so hearing him shout and stumble around on a Tuesday at 2am was par for the course. But that night we detected a hint of panic in his voice and heard him shouting about a fire... at that point we assumed he drunkenly burnt his toast and maybe accidentally caught his sleeve on fire so Greg pulled on his pants to go next-door to see if he could be of help.

As Gregoire entered the living room he saw smoke streaming into our apartment through the gap between the front door and the floor...which is fairly large given our building is slowly sliding down hill.  He touched the door and it was hot so he hurried back to the bedroom and informed us that it was more than toast that was on fire!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hello Tasting Table!

Dear Tasting Table... thank you for visiting! As promised below you will find a few of my recent food photos. While you are here please allow me to point out a few of my favorite posts. You might enjoy reading about French Kissing and American Sandwiches or learning about French medicine in my post called Sprinkles, Seltzers & Suppositories. Should you have more time, I would encourage you to read about my trouble with Turkey, tips on riding the metro and my upsetting adventures as a receptionist in Paris.

Dear readers... this is just a short aside. I am applying for a job as a food editor for the fabulous website I would like to show them a few of the photos I have taken oven the years and I thought what better place to post them than here?! So enjoy and rest assured we will be back to the regularly scheduled How to Marry a Frenchman program soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Mamies of Montmartre

For the first few months of Colette's life I was nervous about leaving the house. I would hover above the changing table hesitating about what she should wear. The long sleeved onsie or the short sleeved one? Pants? Socks? The wooly hat or the sun bonnet? Would she be too hot? Too cold? I would end up  jamming several additional and almost always unnecessary accessories into my purse then finally head out the door.

One might attribute these jitters to new-mommy-syndrome and concern about the well being of my new baby but in fact it was a fear based reaction to the glaring (thus caring) grannies of Montmartre. My neighborhood is a mecca for old people. Lord only knows why, considering that there are more steep slopes, craggily cobblestones and steps in our part of town than in any other arrondissement, but be that as it may, Montmartre is packed with Mamies, Grannies. The Mamies of Montmartre have appointed themselves as the monitors of safety. They roam the streets, markets and parks looking for unsuspecting young mothers who may have misjudge the meteorological micro-climate of Montmartre or underestimated the infinitely delicate nature of their child's tender neck skin, and they pounce.

I was attacked once while doing my shopping. There we were, Coco in her sling and I looking over the selection of oranges at the vegetable stand when out of the corner of my I a see a sweet old lady saddling up to us. It all starts off well, she brushes Coco's cheek with her nobly finger and tells me what a beautiful child I have made. But after a few minutes of cooing and ooing and ahhing she strikes, "Bit of a breeze today [raises her eyebrows and sighs as she looks disapprovingly at Coco's obviously too thin cotton onesie] don't you find it breezy?"With her one sing-songy question she clearly called into question my ability to parent and alerted all other grannies with in earshot to the problem.