Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Freaky French Foods

One of the (many) paris blogs I read had this post today...top 5 Freaky French Foods we're afraid to try. Sounds right up my alley! Let's dig in.

I'm happy to report, I've tried all of them!

  1. Boudin Noir. aka blood sausage. This isn't just in France, right? I think the first time I had this was in Ireland. No matter, I've had it..and I see it often. It's an option for lunch in our cafeteria often as part of a 'tagine' plate with couscous. The first time I didn't know what it was so I dug right in. Not for the faint of heart, I now have learned my lesson and pick around it.
  2. Andouilette: aka. course sausage with intestine. My father ordered this bravely when he was in town and I tried a bite. I'm going to go ahead and say that french sausage as such are not my thing. GROSS. next.
  3. Steak Tartare: raw steak. Basically a hamburger, but not cooked. YUM. It comes with onion, capers, mustard, worcestsire sauce and fries on the side. I like it a lot, although, I do agree the thought sort of creeps me out. Also, the amount tends to be more than I can handle so it's best left as an appetizer somewhere :)
  4. Fromage De Tete: Head cheese. NOT - CULTURED ALERT: I ordered this once thinking it was cheese. It's not cheese, not even a little bit-- it's a terrine made out of parts of the pigs head. No matter, it's still good, salty, meaty, deliciousness. Just try not to think about the parts...(sort of like an oscar Mayer hot dog. BURN!)
  5. Oursin: sea urchin. I've had sea urchiin before and really liked it, but only in France have I had served to me on ice still inside it's spiky shell. Risking puncture, it's quite the adventure in eating, but OH SO WORTH it. Get to the middle and you are rewarded with a salty, yet sweet goodness with a delicate and uniqure texture (ignore the almost neon orange color).
If you're in France, I highly recommend 3 of the 5 of these delicacies. It's worth it and you'll feel like a real bad ass...as you should aspire to after any good meal ha.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Homeless People's Food in Paris

There are many, many, many homeless people in paris, but that's not what this post is about. This post is about what they eat.

On my way to work this morning, a homeless guys I see quite often was sitting on the subway steps. I didn't think much of him munching on what looked like a sandwich or something, until my nose was accosted by the smell of stinky cheese. The homeless guy was eating a round of Camembert as if it were a sandwich. Hilarious. And good for him! I totally respect anyone who can down camberbert like a champ at 9 am. (reminds me of Anchorman..."You ate a whole block of cheese? I'm not even mad! I'm impressed!)

And as my 'Cheese teacher' would say (yes I took a cheese class) ....Cheese is almost the perfect food...so he's only missing Fiber and Vitamin C. Good bang for the buck I say. I shoud bring him some vitamin C metamucil on the way home and he'll be all set. Oh Paris, you never cease to amaze me.

Oh Chipotle is here at last day!

The blessed day has arrived....Chipotle in Paris! I know, I know, I should be blogging about baguettes, cheese, coq au vin, etc etc but you know what? Sometimes you just want a bowl full of mexican flavor and as you can see here and here and here it's a growing trend in paris, albeit slowly and sometimes hit or miss. So imagine my glee when I walked past the 'ameri-corner' (andrew's name for a corner with McDo, Starbucks, subway, hardrock...) and saw the beauty that is the chipotle logo with an 'opening soon' sign. Opening soon, like most things time-wise in Paris, was a relative term. I believe I saw the sign in January. NO MATTER, the day has arrived and it was glorious.

In short: It was very, very good. Not an exact replica, but close enough.  Differences:

  • They use a brown rice here, which is fine, but I really, really like the chipotle/lime/cilantro white rice in the US. I think the brown rice overpowers the lime.
  • No fountain soda. This may not seem like a big deal, but fountain soda is hard to come by in the Paris and I was looking forward to a huge diet coke with lots of ice and a straw. Le. Sigh.
A few french-isms:
  • They are a bit stingy with the serving probably to tone down the fatty american fast food stereotype. This is fine for me, but when I was talking to the guy about the rice (gently mentioning that I liked the white in the US better) he asked me if i wanted a bigger portion. I think he knew I was a regular and it wasn't up to snuff. I declined, as to not seem like a fatty :)
  • They have 4 salsas instead of the normal 3...Normally the 'medium' is the corn salsa...but the 'regular' salsa here is medium and they've added a mild. My theory is that they know the french palate is sensitive and not used to spice so they needed a toned down option. Can't fool me chipotle! I went for the medium and it was perfection.
  • The Price is high...but as I was watching people check out I realized why. The price here for a burrito is 9 euro, which admittedly is high in the US too-- I think it's a little over 8 with tax in the NYC (okay, yes, my name is Lindsay and I"m a chipotle-a-holic). Anywho, I think they've done some keen market research here....Basically, because of the previous socialist gov't and (and new gov't) employers are required to subsidize lunch (see previous post here). You can supply a cafeteria like Danone does, OR, they give you these meal tickets that are accepted pretty much everywhere. They are normally around 9 euro. DING DING DING. Most restaurants do not give change back, so pricing at 9 euro parisians can use their ticket up fully. So smart!
  • There was a huge amount of seating in the restaurant and no place for the line. Remember when I blogged about McDo having lots of seating because French people sit and eat for like 2 hours a day? Chipotle (previously franchised by MacDo which is right next door) has seating in spades. HOWEVER, the line was out the door because they didn't plan the space properly. They need to get that figured out.
ANYWHO, to summarize I am very happy. And I will be return again and again and again yipeee.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

France's First Lady: No Nancy or Michelle in the house!

So I know I mentioned the new first lady's age appropriateness and chic attire in my previous post, but oh la la I had no idea what interesting fodder she actually is! The New York time's had a great article on miss Valérie Trierweiler this morning. Here are my comments.

  1. Firstly, notice her last name. It's not Hollande and it's not because she decided to not take his name...it's because they aren't married! And on top of that, Mr. President was married (with 4 kids) and she was the mistress. They didn't come out publicly until 2010. SCANDAL. Except not, seems to be sort of blaseé in France. Whatever, it's a SCANDAL to me.
  2. Secondly, she's a journalist. And still covered politics until recently. That whole conflict of interest thing is a lot more lax in France. In fact, I've heard that a lot -- journalists are more opinionated here (Not having the ability to read the French media, I can't comment ha).  And I quote, " All journalists have opinions, they all vote, they all have sympathy, friendships. But they’re not asked to justify them. We believe in their integrity, we trust them and we’re right to do so." Although, I guess there is always FOX News in the US -- an unparalelled example of journalistic integrity ha.
  3. Thirdly, she's struggling with her role of First Lady in France because there is no role of First lady in France. The first lady's are not supposed to do anything. I find this quite strange, as I've always known first lady's to have an agenda...or at least the memory of my recent first ladies (hillary with health care and michelle with childhood obesity...I wonder when this first lady agenda thing started? hmm). Plus, US First ladies help with the campaign, give speeches, kiss cute children, save Africa, etc. They are definitely well known and in the spot light, but apparently that doesn't happen here. They  have babies...Carla did that quite well although it didn't help boost Sarkozy's popularity. I can understand why Valerie is struggling with this...surely you aren't allowed to be a journalist if you're first lady! They also aren't married, so she doesn't want Hollande to support her family (she has 3 teenage boys). 
    • As a tangent, I wonder if this has something to do with the misogynistic culture which is latent in French society. This is a whole 'nother post, but you have to wonder.
  4. She had no clue that when she 'fell' for him that he would be president. It was over 6 years ago, he was an odd, leftist politician who wasn't really on the radar. She says she's almost laughing about it now, because the thought 6 years ago would be too ridiculous. 
  5. INTERESTINGLY, Mr. Hollande's EX-WIFE  Ségolène Royal , ran for president in 2007 (from possible first husband to president, bizarre!). She obviously lost to Mr. Sarkozy, whom Mr. Hollande defeated. Talk about getting back at your ex-wife!
Sorry that was a long one, but wow, French politics are so different here! No pesky republicans picking apart everyone's personal lives (okay, I'm sure democrats do it too, but that whole 'family values' platform really wouldn't fly here). Imagine when all that really matters in a campaign are the politics? That's crazy speak.

Monday, May 14, 2012

oh la la, two posts in 1 day!

This has been an exceptional day - an exceptional day in that all the bosses are out of the office and I have no impending deadlines! Therefore, it was a long lunch kind of day (taken with my Andrew on the rooftop of Galleries lafayettes in the sun yay!) and a two kind of blog post day. I've been neglecting the blog too much lately so it's time I catch up!.

This one is inspired by Prét à Voyager and I thought it was super cute. For those of you that don't know, Anne writes  a great ex-pat blog and she does an illustrated French Lesson once a week or so (see picture). This week's is: Avoir un oeil au beurre noir. I always try to figure out what they are before she translates...and I have to admit this one stumped me, which is quite silly.

With a literal translation of: To have an eye of black butter, or less literally as it means to have a black eye...but I kept focusing on the beurre part and thought it was about cooking. Apparently, it may have come from cooking, something about the butter changing color when the egg is ready. Anywho, now you know!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

ALLO ALLO, Je T'aime, Je T'aime

The weather is finally getting better in Paris (sun!) and it's honestly a different city. I'm finally starting to understand why Paris in the spring is so famous...From March and April I thought those people were masochistic.

Anywho, today I'm sharing this fun little video that shows a different side of Paris. But it's a side that I see living here, but which you wouldn't necessarily see if you visited as a tourist. It's what I call 'hipstamatic' Paris, (or Bobo, hispter, too cool for school, whatever you want to call it). The video is shot by 2 americans visiting Paris, but I think the look and feel capture perfectly the sense of modern Paris. You'll see it through the sites like the grafitti everywhere and the small details like the glove hanging off a wire. You'll see it in the way people are dressed (normally like they are out of the 80s) or guys walking while holding baguettes. You'll see it in the way they crowd into their tiny kitchens to chat or piling bottles of wine at the end of the night. You'll even see it in the way they've chosen the music and picked the lighting for the video. Bienvenue à Paris :-)


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Cultural Observations from the French Presidential Election: 2012

So in case you didn't know, France has entered a new era (again) and has elected the socialist president Francois Hollande (pronounced Orland it seems to me. Not sure where the R comes from...it's like the double L magically turns to an R.) ANYWAYS, as an outsider who was in the 'thick of it' it was quite interesting to me. My uncle would not be proud -- I was a mere 5 minute walk away from the Bastille where thousands of socialists were gathering to celebrate this historical event, but I decided to watch it safely from my couch. The Collins gene certainly outshined the Scott gene last night.

Anywho, here are 5 rather frivolous observations.

  1. The new first lady is much more age appropriate than Carla Bruni, but still a looker! I look forward to critiquing her wardrobe on the front page of newspapers in the future. 
  2. Did you know that the French colonies can vote? I saw results for Guadaloupe, Martinique, etc while they were posting results for other regions of France. I guess the 'no taxation without representation' really works here. Poor D.C & Peurto Rico.
  3. The car of choice for both presidential candidates was a TEENY TINY 4 door renaut (or peugot? i dunno, a French car). Compared to the limos and huge bullet proof vehicles I'm used to my politicians riding in, I was horrified for their safety. Also, the journalists were allowed to ride along side in Motos. There were no bodygaurds to be found.
  4. I watched both speeches (watched being the correct word here, as I probably understood less than half). I can see why Sarkozy was president for 10 years -- he's an excellent speaker. And the crowd responds loudly and appropriately. Hollande just yelled and seemed like he might have a heart attack. I worry about this.
  5. When they were showing clips they played random accordion music in the background. It was odd and so stereotypical.
Et Voila! I'm sure this transition period will have tons of blog worthy hilarity. Until then!

Thursday, May 03, 2012


Before coming to France, I was really looking forward to August in Europe. August was what I thought was the quintessential vacation month -- an entire month to frolic through the south of France, visit beaches, mountains, etc. And this is not incorrect. However, as it turns out there is ANOTHER month of amazing-ness, and this month has arrived.

Whereas in August you must use your vacation days, in May there is a plethora of public holidays. And because most of these public holidays fall on a tuesday, we are 'forced' to take off the day in between to bridge the holiday to the weekend. Twist my arm...

Since April 29th here are my vacation days:

April 30th and May 1st (May day/Fete De Travail/Labor day)
May 7th and May 8th (Victories of Europe day...end of war in 1945)
May 17th and May 18th (ascension day? I'm a christian and I don't even know what that is, but I appreciate the days off)
May 28th (day of Solidarity. This one I still dont' really understand, but basically it's a day off for charity? And apparently companies give the equivalent of our salaries to charities or something).

So, to sum that all up I only work 1 full week in May. It's quite incredible.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Last post on April 11th...could that be???

So, you know that rhyme April showers bring May flowers? France (and europe in general really) is taking it QUITE literally.

Here is what I have to say to that.

I'm.sick.of.rain.and.clouds. We had 2 awesome days over the last 30 and the forecast just makes me want to pull my hair out. There better be some damn good flowers soon OR ELSE. (empty threats also make me feel better apparently).