French Nachos

April 26, 2007 at 11:40 am | Posted in food | 8 Comments

I’m back, with my favorite hobby: analyzing French potato chip flavors.


The tomato-basil were all right, but not as intensely flavored as I had hoped. You could taste the basil if you concentrated, but mostly I remember salt. The barbecue flavor was interesting, because I was expecting American-style barbecue, ie some sort of sweet and tangy saucy flavor. However (as indicated by the packaging), these chips were actually infused with the flavor of grilled meats and vegetables. It was pretty tasty.

The olive chips were really… olive-y. More like “fresh” olives than like cured, oil soaked ones, which was unexpected, but good. We ate them with the leftovers of my lamb-bean stew, and it made me wish I’d put olives in the stew.

But the those smoked ham-flavored chips in the bottom right? Those really inspired us. We were snacking on them one day with a chunk of cheap, semi-hard supermarket cheese:

Petit Saint Paulin

And I said, “You know, this cheese and ham and potato combination kinda makes me think of tartiflette. I keep wanting to stick them together.” To which Brumaire replied, “French Nachos!” And the rest, as they say, is history:

French Nachos

Cultural fusion never tasted so good.


Tit an’ Oral

April 20, 2007 at 3:52 pm | Posted in vie quotidienne | 9 Comments

Tit an' Oral

I should follow this pic up with a joke, but everything in my mind right now is way too dirty for a public blog. (Suggestions welcome in the comments, though!)

Seriously, when you think of how hemmorhoid medications are marketed in the US… They so rarely involve close-ups of svelte, dimpled man-ass, much less multi-lingual double-entendres.  How much we have to learn…

La Ferrandaise

April 12, 2007 at 10:21 am | Posted in food | 6 Comments

Tuesday night, Brumaire and I joined a friend for dinner at what is possibly my new favorite neighborhood restaurant. La Ferrandaise — named for a once-endangered breed of cow from Auvergne — specializes in simple, hearty veal and beef dishes, although they also do some lovely lamb and chicken. Still, the bovine influence is made pretty clear by whimsical decor: a series of stunning photographs by Alexandre Lescure grace the exposed beam and stone walls of the restaurant.

Cow nose

I’ve mentioned La Ferrandaise before, when I went over Christmas, but I was eager to go back and find out whether the delicious veal I had that night was just a fluke. Well, I was not disappointed — Brumaire’s veal was as luscious and tender as I remembered, and my lamb was so succulent I didn’t want it to end. Ever.

Filet d'Agneau

The green pea mash was a wonderful, spring-y complement, and the potato puffs were meltingly delicate.

Other highlights included a surprisingly elaborate asparagus soup:

Creme d'Asperge a l'Oeuf

And this lovely gratin de poire conference aux epices:

Gratin de Poire

Best of all, everything on the menu may be had as part of a very reasonable 32Euro prix fixe menu. Check out the rest of the meal here.

Bonnes Paques

April 10, 2007 at 12:28 pm | Posted in books, food, vie quotidienne | 9 Comments

“And who brings the chocolate?” the teacher asked.

I knew the word, so I raised my hand, saying, “The rabbit of Easter. He bring the chocolate.”

“A rabbit?” The teacher, assuming I’d used the wrong word, positioned her index fingers on hop of her head, wriggling them as though they were ears. “You mean a rabbit rabbit?”

“Well, sure,” I said. “He come in the night when one sleep on a bed. With a hand he have a basket and food.”

The teacher sadly shook her head, as if this explained everything that was wrong with my country. “No, no,” she said. “Here in France the chocolate is brought by the big bell that flies in from Rome.” I called for a time-out. “But how do the bell know where you live?” “Well,” she said, “how does a rabbit?”

It was a decent point, but at least a rabbit has eyes. That’s a start. Rabbits move from place to place, while most bells can only go back and forth–and they can’t even do that on their own power.

David Sedaris has been accused recently of exaggerating some of his stories for comic effect (horrors!), but I can assure anyone who questioned this story from Me Talk Pretty One Day that, yes, Easter chocolate is indeed bestowed in France by a giant bell.

Easter bell

But of course, that’s not the whole story. Mr. Sedaris failed to mention the Easter fish:

Easter fish

I did some research, but from what I can tell, no one is exactly sure why fish turn up on Easter in France. Some suggest it might have something to do with Lent, but isn’t the whole point of Easter that Lent is over and you can stop with the fish already? Others say the fish are left over from April Fool’s, but there isn’t any clear explanation what fish have to do with April 1st either. Is it something to do with Pisces? With the Gregorian calendar? With procuring prostitutes? I can’t tell.

What I can see, however, is that French fish apparently lay eggs from a large orifice near the gills.


Happy Easter!


April 5, 2007 at 2:51 pm | Posted in food, vie quotidienne | 8 Comments


File this under: Things McDonalds wouldn’t get away with in the US. Oddly, I don’t think the name would even make sense in America — offensiveness aside, people would probably assume that a McOriental involved chop suey or some other Chinese-American dish. In fact, the only thing that makes this sandwich “oriental” is the use of flat bread and meat spiced with cumin and coriander. So I think it’s supposed to be more Middle Eastern than Far Eastern.

Still, you might think McDonalds would have learned their lesson from the McAfrika flap.

Still, say what you want about the global fast food industry — at least they’re not responsible for this cheerful display, found just around the corner from me on Mouffetard:

Au Negre Joyeux

The Happy Negro? Serving tea to his white mistress? I — uh — Yeah, words fail me.

Warm Up

April 2, 2007 at 11:32 am | Posted in food, vie quotidienne | 4 Comments

Here in Paris, Spring has been a real tease. As early as mid-February, some of the trees started to bud, while others remained desolate and bare. Throughout March, we’ve seen bright, balmy sun-filled days alternate with entire weeks of cold gray drizzle (itself punctuated by occasional bouts of sleet). And last week was so cloudy, it was hard to believe the sun had risen at all.

But yesterday was vibrantly sunny and — dare I say it? — warm. Poisson d’avril? Maybe, but today’s looking lovely as well, and I find myself entertaining the hope that the worst is at last behind us.

I’ve even gone so far as to plant my little city garden:

Too Soon to Tell

Three kinds of basil, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, strawberries, and forget-me-nots. I’m not generally much of a green-thumb, but the urban landscape can make anyone yearn for a little piece of nature, especially when that nature will provide me with fresh herbs to cook with.

This just in: first sprouts, as of this morning!


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