Sunday, August 27, 2006

La rentrée

I came, I ate, I ate some more, I went back to Paris. And I got really tan. And naturally I saw lots of amazing things along the way. But it feels good to be back "home."

A Finet-free home no less! We saw loony-toons yesterday for what I hope to god will be the last time ever. It seems that fate arranged one last ridiculous confrontation, just for old-time's sake. Upon leaving the building we happened to run into one of the downstairs neighbors, started talking about the situation, I was about to give her my contract and rent receipts for their court case, and who should pop down but the celebrity herself! True to form, she was listening at the window four flights up, and came down, zany guns a-blazing. Lots of rapid French back-and-forth ensued between her and the neighbor, during which I went into a semi-catatonic state from the futility of it all. And right now she's calling me claiming she'll give me back the money for September... later this week, or something, oh, but first I need to come and take the latch off my door because her and her brother can't get it off-- gosh, it seems somebody put epoxy in the screws. Whoops! And I'm telling her no way, not until there's money in my hand, to which she says no, and I'm hanging up. And she's calling back, saying oh, actually my brother wants the apartment for half the month, so we'll reimburse you for that, but you still need to take off the lock, and I'm saying I didn't put the glue in, which she takes to mean I didn't put the lock on, which I'm fine with her believing as well. And she seems genuinely baffled by that, and appears to believe me, which genuinely baffles me. And then I'm telling her that I'll be gone during the middle of September, which is true, and then she says some convoluted thing how she'll call her brother (you know, the one that was supposedly there in the apartment during the last call!) and see if blah blah blah. And thus a fitting interaction to mark the end of the relationship.

But back to the trip! Our first lesson: avoid Florence and Siena in August at all costs. Second lesson: be prepared to sell organs on the black market for the money to rent the car last-minute in Florence in August that will enable you to drive through the backhills of Tuscany. Third lesson: it is very worthwhile to drive through the backhills of Tuscany.
Some other Proven Facts from the past weeks: Trattoria Latte di Luna in Pienza makes the best roast suckling pig in the universe (and they have a talking bird that greets you with "ciao! buona sera! come va!"), grilled eel at Lago Castiglione is very delicious but is almost sickeningly rich, there is some very very bad pizza to be found in Sorrento, Barcelona is a lot cooler than Paris, Spanish wine tastes good, lots of people at hostels are annoying, and Pompeii is surprisingly huge.

All my vacation photos are posted on Flickr, check them out.

I went back to school today after nine weeks of lazing about, which is good. I am already feeling the hurt of my much longer commute, but such is the price I knew I would pay. This week I'm taking Pains de Tradition, which is cool although I'm skeptical of many of the teacher's explanations.
It feels good to be productive again.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Well, freshly fattened on Barcelona´s considerable bounty, we are about to take the overnight train back to Paris. Many reports to come on our eating exploits from the past few weeks...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Movin' on up!!

I hope you Minneapolitans are taking advantage of the Midtown Global Market. It sounds goddamn awesome.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


ON A ÉCHAPPÉ!!! We are officially free from you-know-who's zany clutches! It remains to be seen whether I will recuperate any of my cash. Let's just say there is a possibility but I'm not exactly optimistic. At least a lesson has been learned here... DON'T GIVE A PSYCHO A TON OF MONEY UP-FRONT, OR PREFERABLY NOT AT ALL!

But tonight we made a highly, um, idiosyncratic curry concoction (ready-made vindaloo paste, jarret de boeuf [shank-- pretty much only used here for pot au feu], button mushrooms, red pepper and zucchini) on top of Thai sticky rice with sliced cucumber on the side and crème fraîche on top (and with a Portugese wine!), in the very considerable comfort of our new apartment--- faaar from the 16eme. Indeed, we have relocated to the 19eme, which could hardly be further from where we were living before. This neighborhood is much more our style-- multicultural, lots of restaurants, a family feel... it seemed to me that the only non-white folks in the 16eme are either nannies or working at the grocery checkout. And I cannot say enough about how good it feels to wake up (in a real bed, no less-- not a dumpy mattress on the floor) in peace, without a radio blaring through the wall, sopping wet floors, a kitchen sink full of potato skins (or egg shells, or noodles, or chicken bones...), or any number of other unpleasant surprises.

Our vacation is about ready to launch, final preparations are underway. One week of adventure en route to Rome from Milan, then several days there, then "?" for two days (Naples, we hope? Beppe, where are you?), then Barcelona, then back home. And then it's back to school for me! Five weeks off have blown by at tremendous speed. How the heck did that happen, you might ask? Well, one class I wanted was full, another I decided to move closer to the final exam so it would be fresher in my memory, and then my much-looked-forward-to Maîtrise de Conserves (read: High-Fallutin' Pickles) class was cancelled seeing as how I'm apparently the only one out there who wants to spend a week making high fallutin' pickles. Er, I mean, master conserves. And then on a note of double misfortune, the timing has worked out neither for a stage in production at the school nor for a stint at an organic farm. There would be the possibility to push some of my classes back even later so as to make room, but I think they've been pushed quite far enough as it is. My stay here is extending itself a good deal longer than originally anticipated already. My pipe dream of the week is to somehow hustle a stage at Michel Bras' in Laguiole, but I find it pretty much inconceivable, especially given that there's only one week where I'm off classes before they close for the season. But I've slopped together a new resumé nonetheless, and if I can muster up the motivation in the next day and a half I'll send it off into the ether just for the hell of it.