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It’s no secret that I love Belleville. I fully support the “Belleville Hills” t-shirts I’ve seen around the neighborhood the past couple of years, proclaiming pride in this area of eastern Paris. The colors, the people, the odors ! The ongoing construction projects and the racaille, or riff-raff ! They all make up this vibrant, working-class area I call (almost) home.
What is it about the simple word gratinée that makes food so delicious ? Everyone loves crisp-browned and bubbling cheese on top of gratinéed potatoes or on the ultra-classic French onion soup. Only kids have the guts to ask for “more crispy” – plus de croustillant – but when it comes time to clear the table, I’ve seen friends fight to take the gratin dish away. Why ?
Amuse-bouche ? Palate-tickler ? Mise en bouche ? Mouth-entertainer ? Or how about chef’s greeting, “appeteaser,” mouth-pleaser, or pre-appetizer ? Whatever you call it, the tiny bite you’ll eat at the beginning of a meal is usually found only in gastronomic restaurants. But why not chez toi ? Read on to find out how.
Oyé, oyé ! Tu as sûrement déjà essayé ce légume miracle venu de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, le kale. Mais si ce n’est pas le cas, cours (ne marche pas) l’acheter dans un magasin bio – la meilleure source, et le moins cher, où trouver ce cousin du chou.
On the edge of Manhattan, in the Far West Village, sits an impressive brick building that overlooks the Hudson River. Once the home of Bell Laboratories – if you like television or movies, you have this company to thank for the research on those inventions – the building was renovated and repurposed in the 1960s to provide affordable housing to 384 artists and their families.
Normally I don’t write much about restaurants, nor do I review restaurants here on the blog. So many people do that already, and frankly, reviewing restaurants means working when I want to just sit back and enjoy the food and wine. Like most people, I relish a relaxing experience in a restaurant, far from the madding social media crowd and photos.
It’s no secret that I love my neighborhood, on the edge of Paris. Sure, I get to other areas : the Bastille in the 11th, the Marché d’Aligre in the 12th, and across town from time to time. But the Left Bank ? Not so much. So when I cross the Seine, it’s got to be for a good reason.
With the holidays behind us, lots of Parisians are trying to rid their bodies of the excesses of the fêtes and have resolved to eat better and get more exercise. Joggers dash past me on the sidewalk, the swimming pool is splashing mad, and the magasin bio – or organic grocery – near my apartment has a line out the door during rush hour. The word on everyone’s lips again this year ? Détox.
Autumn in Paris means one thing to gourmands all over the city : wild mushrooms ! Varied, earthy, and delicious, wild mushrooms are nature’s gift to Parisians courageous enough to hunt for the delicacy in nearby Fontainebleau forest. But centuries ago, mushrooms were suspect at best. And at worst ? They were downright scandalous.
Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art ? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. One thing is sure : art reproduces what is in the depths of the subconscious mind, and that’s nowhere more evident than in the work of American artist Henry Darger. But when the line dividing art and life is indistinguishable, what you get looks a lot like the life of French-American creator Elizabeth R.
At some point in your education, if you were lucky, you had a transformative educator who was dedicated, enthusiastic, and funny. That teacher knew how to grab your curiosity and channel it in the most inspiring ways. Most importantly, that teacher shaped the course of your life. And if you were really lucky, the result ended up looking like something I’d call destiny.
With such beautiful spring days here in Paris, we’re taking full advantage of being outdoors, whether in our sunny courtyard, or in the local parks and gardens, like the Buttes Chaumont nearby. But sometimes one of the best parts about living in Paris is leaving Paris.
What is it about Paris that inspires flânerie, or aimless wandering, past shop windows and brightly lit cafés, where couples sit enchanted with their own company ? It could be the short, typically northern-latitude winter days, when only the highest apartment windows shine with the reflection of a sun so low in the sky that it seems it will never climb back up to its summer zenith.
Between you and me, I can’t think of any vegetable more unglamorous than beets. Before I moved to France, I associated beets with the evil witch in a fairy tale. In my mind, before she tucked into her toadstool and eye-of-newt omelet (or a small child), she would start her meal with beets.
If there’s one thing that consistently drives me crazy about living in France, it’s the misuse of apostrophes. Even though I give the French a big break on this one, since there aren’t any possessive apostrophes in their language, some folks seem to take a malin plaisir, or malicious pleasure, in mangling words of English-language origin by using apostrophes in awkward places.
This isn’t a story about bastards. It’s a story about tabbouleh. Well, okay - it IS a story about a band of bastards. And it’s also about a bastard tabbouleh, full of colorful tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, parsley, arugula, and crunchy sweet pomegranate seeds. So if you’re a tabbouleh purist, then you should read no further !
Are you a fan of meal-sized “composed” salads ? I sure am. Nothing’s better at beating the haze and heat of summer in the city than not having to cook after a long scorching day, and instead, simply sitting down to a cool, smoky salad. This composed salad requires cooking vegetables, wheatberries, and pine nuts, but usually I make those parts of the recipe in the morning when our apartment is still cool from the night air.