Monday, November 22, 2010

Ooh la la

A panhandler wearing a beret and playing the accordion is much more charming than a rather well dressed dude shuffling through the subway asking for change.

On our way to the Pompidou we noticed an outdoor market down a side street. We wound up buying olives flavored with basil and others flavored with herbes de Provence. It went on for several blocks and was inter-mixed with small restaurants full of late lunchers (it was Sunday). More than one place had a man stationed outside shucking oysters. We had planned to get a cheap(er) meal but we figured oysters are clearly what is best on this strip. The place we chose had 5 kinds, designated by number only. The waitress told us the sizes as well. I was recommended a white wine from the Loire called Cheverny. Excellent with the oysters.

I'm sure this is a typical American complaint but even though I LOVE not feeling pressured to give up my table after finishing a meal or even a drink, sometimes getting my check when I do want it can be a pain.

French people seem perfectly content to stand at a bar drinking coffee or a beer, even if there are seats available at tables. Often there are no seats in front of the bar in a cafe or a small restaurant.

Charcuterie plates seem to always come with pâté. I am picky about pâté and don't like it too strong. And Jeff is just scared of it. At lunch in a brasserie we were chastised for not eating it. I feel bad now. I guess we can't order any more charcuterie platters. I told the guy it was too strong for me and he just tsked.

On the metro, rows of seats face each other. Why would they not be row upon row? Odd. Uncomfortable.

The metro train doors open before it had come to a complete stop.

There is not much variety among restaurants. There will be a selection of salads with names like Caesar that may only vaguely resemble an American Caesar salad. There will be an onion soup and at least one other soup option. There will be perhaps a hamburger, perhaps a steak tartar, perhaps a savory tart.

Andouille sausage in France is (we found out after making the mistake of ordering it and taking one bite each) made of tripe and smells like a sewer. Relatedly, rognon de veau is not a lovely veal chop, but rather veal kidney.

There is good craft beer to be found in Paris but not easily. A couple bars serve some more unusual French beers. One small store specializes in selling French beer as well as some Belgians, but the French ones are front and center while the Belgians are near the back. Down the street from that store (which is called Cave à Bulles) is a quaint little restaurant with mediocre food and 6 French beers on tap that an American is not likely to recognize.

Based on the Cave à Bulles' proprietor's recommendation we bought 7 bottles of beer to bring home. It remains to be seen whether those will in fact be findable in the US. We thought we had discovered Mikkeler in Copenhagen last year and perhaps it began being available in the US right after that or maybe we had just never noticed it before.

Parisiennes apparently aren't privy to the power of zinc for staging off colds. A pharmacist told us he doesn't carry it and when I asked if the French take zinc at all he said no, not really.

See the rest of the photos.