Sunday, May 30, 2010

Night of Raw Food & Movie Stars...

You'll probably never see me in something "this season". I can almost guarantee that you'll never spot me sporting an "it bag". Other things clearly not a part of my destiny: Spandex, Hammer pants, COLLOSAL BOWS, Unseemly shoulder pads, Shirts pretending to be dresses, Dresses pretending to be shirts, Ass-hangyouty-shorts, boots with peeptoes, and countless other atrocities that are destined for more fabulous people than I.

Some people can make taking a shit look cool, whereas I am the ANTIGLAM. I am GAUCHE. If being trendy and elegant were a disease, I would be the cure. Inside me is an eternal battle between the forces of good and evil:

But my expertise in phailology hasn't prevented me from having some insane nights on the town. Friends, light years more chic than yourst', have provided some pretty rad times.

Such as last night.

Original Sat plan:
leave PJ's on ALL DAY, smell bad, read even more vampire novels, lament husband who is in Barcelona having the time of his life, eat cereal for every meal, nap, wish I had a puppy, nap again, decide to do something then abandon it before you can say lonetard... you get the idea.

Actual Sat plan: amazing sushi lunch w/ ash + Wedding planning bonaza, dinner at the amazing Bob's Kitchen with some expats for a special "raw" themed menu (Crusine!), drinks with the incredibly talented Jesse Williams and his fiancé Erin, who is sweeter than pure sugar topped with caramel btw.

The raw dinner kind of blew my mind. How do you prepare a three course meal that involves zero cooking and no meat/fish/poultry? Adam Graham and Arletty Abady, our top raw chefs for the evening, could tell you.

I ate something called "Aged Cashew Cheese". Figure that one out. First thing that came to mind was someone milking a miniature cashew nipple... guessing that's off base. I'm stumped, but it was dlish. We had stuffed mushrooms, zucchini "pasta" and other delectable concoctions that were so mouthwatering I had to refrain from making inappropriate sexual noises as we munched. Adam & Arletty are more than mere chefs, they are food chemists.

Aside from a freeze-dried breaded eggplant incident that looked mysteriously like something I'd shed after the meal than something I'd eat before... the raw repas was a treat - one I'd be glad to repeat. Not to mention that "Bob" and the guest chefs sat and chatted with us after the meal. I have to admit to being very impressed by their dedication to the art of cooking, and I can see why they're enjoying the sweet taste of success today.

I can always count on the Charisma Queen, Rebecca Leffler, to bring a little snazzle into my weekends. (That is when she's not in Cannes, Monte Carlo, on TV for l'instant critique, writing for the Hollywood Reporter or working on her blog among other various creative endeavors. I've decided she doesn't sleep.) Last night was no exception.

We wrapped up the raw dinner, and she proposed a drink. Being a wino, I obvi jumped on that bandwagon be for the "K" of the word "Drinks" had even been pronounced. Little did I know that I, the cure for couture, was about to meet a rising star.

I think it's safe to say that this chance encounter is probably 1-time. Around nine pm, I found myself at a little table outside with two expat friends, JW and the enchanting Erin, discussing Paris, music, movies and of course - I had to bring the discussion to cheese and sausage at some point. (On Wisconsin!)

First of all, the closest I've ever come to a real-live "star" is... oh yeah, never. So this, needless to say, was a pretty cool development. Second... he stars on Grey's. GREY's people. Ugh. Love LOVE LOVE that show so effing much I think I would espouse it if you could be legally wed to a television production. I was not surprised to find that this couple was as down to earth as it gets - JW even took time to chat and take pictures with a table of fans next to us.

Raw food discoveries and drinks with movie stars def beats lounging in your dirty pj's non? Siiigh... only in Paris.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Eat as Cruelly as You Possibly Can, by The French Nation

France has a serious reputation for good eats. You can't deny the appeal of it's seemingly ENDLESS list of culinary classics. I would wager that even now, as I blog, some lucky frenchie is biting into their first taste of Boeuf Bourguignon, or Crème Brulée, or something else that countless chefs have mastered to perfection with the sole aim of making you simultaneously orgasm, scream, pee and pass out. (Quite the feat, non?)

And yet... every closet has a skeleton, even closets with three stars have them... tiny little bird skeletons as it turns out.

At lunch with my colleagues the other day we began what I expected would be an innocent converstation. What can go wrong among foodies? We talked about how much we enjoyed soup, and a very lovely person shared half her chocolate tart with me (again, my coworkers loooooove putting chocolate in my mouth and then scolding me for eating it as I swallow), when suddenly, for some reason I can only imagine stems from latent anger at my not joining them 'round the table more often, the conversation shifted tones.

"But eating snails is not as cruel as some other things", Frenchy McFrenchLady says.

"Really? Do you know how they're prepared?", Frenchy McFrenchman replies.

"Of course! You catch them, tear them out of their homes and let them die a slow agonizing death by watching intently as every last bit of their life's juice leaks out of their frightened shrivelling bodies. Then you throw them in a pan with some garlic sauce and it's DINNER TIME!", French McFrenchLady says.**

** not a direct quote, but should have damn well been.

At this point, I've stopped talking about movies with my neighbor to listen in to horror that ensued.

"So you know something that's worse?", McFrenchman retorts.

"Oh my stars, there's so much worse. Those are snails, no one gives a hoot about snaaaillls. They have no brains, they don't feel the pain the way the other animals do. Besides it's not like they're screaming little snail screams or something."

It should be noted that I was the only one who laughed about the snails screaming. Apparently the entire group is certain that I have no soul, or at least, zero empathy for slugs.

I'm going to have to sum up the rest because really, there were too many examples of cruelty to detail in just one blog:

- Oysters: Eaten alive actually. I'd like to see you come up with something worse.
- Chicken: Old fashioned Guillotine-like demise.
- Fois gras: Stuff the poor goose to DEATH, then eat it's gizzards... nice.

- Veal: left in a cage to rot until the reaper arrives so it stays "tender"

- Lobster: Again. Cooked LIVE. Nice people. Real nice.
.... the list goes on & on.

Most people are guilty of eating at least one of these animal atrocities, and our consciences have survived worse. But the very WORST one in my book has got to be the ex-President of France, François Mitterand. Apparently he was preparing for the visit to that big restaurant in the sky, when he realized he hadn't yet committed enough sins against animals. So he decided to get them ALL out of the way in one go!

He invited his closest friends for dinner, and planned the following malevolent menu:
- Oysters: cold-blooded live-eat, check
- Fois gras: heartless stuff-to-exploding, check
- Chapon (it's like a chicken): Guillotine, check

and, la pièce de résistance....
- Ortolan.

Ortolan is a tiny, helpless, kind-natured little bird that meets its maker in a sort-of best-of-all-deaths way. As if they couldn't decide which way was worse, so they just did all of them.

- caught live, held in captivity
- stuffed to point of death
- drowned in cognac
- rotisserie cooked
- chop off it's head once on your plate

To top it off, they get an extra special dégustation... you suck the goodies right out of the carcass. So, not only have you imprisoned, tortured, drowned and roasted your little feathered friend, you must now hide your eating behind a napkin as you slurp its insides right out of it's own neck.

Hmm. PUKE.

Enough to make you want to be a vegetarian, non?

Friday, May 7, 2010

JNSQ FF - Say What? Condoms, Beastiality, & Pregnancy, oh my...

Living here has been quite the test of endurance for me. I've blogged about some of my favorite episodes, the time I kissed my banker, my lack of understanding of french fashion, the time I realized that Paris streets are perpetually covered in a shit carpet... if dealing with France gracefully were a geographic location and the equator was "normal", I'm pretty sure I'd be sharing space with polar bears.

Unfortunately, I was not born with the tact gene. Dealing with wait staff, colleagues and just about any local requires a certain amount of patience and humility. Expats... You know what I'm talking about.

So it should come to no surprise to you all that sometimes, despite my fluency, I verbally trip and fall down a flight of stairs into a vat of lung butter.

This week's JNSQ Feature Friday Question:
What's the worst thing you accidentally said in French?

Here are a few of my most humiliating mistakes, and those of others for you to enjoy...

Lesson 1: Condoms... What else?
I woke up early one morning when I'd first arrived in France. We were staying at V's parent's (ginormous) house while waiting for our apartment's fresh paint to dry. I must've been groggier than I thought as I bumped into V's mom in the kitchen that day.

I smiled sweetly at her and asked,
"Can I have a condom please?"

Yep. To the mother in law. As if it wasn't bad enough that we'd only met four times and here I was living in her house, practically engaged to her son... I had to go rub our sex life in her face before she'd even had time to wake up.

She just stood there, clutching her bowl of tea, staring at me like I'd asked her if she had hemorrhoids. Eventually, I realized that I needed that coffee before I could open my mouth again and reached for the container on the shelf. I think her sigh of relief could've filled a blimp as she too realized that I'd mixed up the words. For the record, the word for coffee in those little bullet-shaped thingies is "Capsule" NOT "Capote".

Lesson 2: Calves and Cunts... not exactly the same kind of "ache".
I had the privilege of inheriting a marvelous group of French girlfriends from V's crowd back in the 'burbs of Paris. We hit it off right away, and I even convinced a few to join me in all my American glory at the gym! One day we were having apéro at our usual bar, and the alcohol must have gone to my head.

I sat at the bar yelling in French over loud music and exclaimed, loud enough for the entire bar to hear (why does music always turn off RIGHT when you're about to become the monarch of assdom??):

"Oh my GOD, my CUNT is KILLING ME!!"

Yeah. Yet again. Bull's eye, smack in the middle of the embarrassment target. I didn't know that I was saying "moule" (slang for c---), instead of "mollet" (word for calves), but I could tell by their riotous laughter that I'd said something wrong. They give me crap to this day for that one.

Lesson 3: Dogs are not kinky...
We had gone to a small town in the northern part of France for Vince's cousin's "Proclamation of Faith", or some such Catholic tradition that merit's the entire family's presence. This was my first outing with V's extended family, so naturally, I was a bit edgy. I have always been a dog lover, so I started playing with their little pup out on the deck while V was getting us some champagne.

The family filtered out to enjoy the beautiful evening, and saw me playing with said doggie just as it began gnawing on my fingers until they were red and scratched to pieces! I had meant to say, "Oh my, she's a viscous little girl!" and ended up saying the equivalent of:

"Your dog is a kinky little whore!!"

"Vicious" and "girl dog" do not have the same meaning in French as in English. (Ok, so girl dog does, but I didn't know that!) I think the dictionary translation of vicious would be something like, "someone familiar with depraved sexual desires"... dear me. Poor little pup has probably never been so insulted before or since.

Here are some of my expat friend's incidents, don't forget to check their blogs!!

"Baiser means to f***..." - Sion Dayson
I wrote about this on my blog (since I have a whole series devoted to such things: Faux Pas Fridays!). Here it goes again:

After our first three dates, Jerome had still not made a move. Shy and sweet, he was the perfect gentleman – by that point, I was ready for him to take a step towards not being one.

Hours into date three, we’re listening to Nina Simone, drinking sweet white wine. I – eyelashes batting – finally ask, coy as can be, “so, don’t you want to kiss me?”

Only, my formulation was woefully wrong. If un baiser is a kiss, I had reasoned, baiser must mean to kiss (whoa! big leap! whatever gave me that idea?)

Well, friends, it was the wrong conclusion. Baiser means to f***.

My coy question turned instantly into a crude proposition. Reserved Jerome, however, did not let on.

“Yes, I want to kiss you,” he said correcting me (though I didn’t notice the correction).

Only months later did he actually tell me what I had said. Yep, Americans are direct, that's for sure.

(read her entire post here! It's hilarious... )

"Thank you nice ass..." - Lindsey T.
Well, this is more of a prononciation faux pas but when I first moved to France I had a little trouble pronouncing the "ou" and "ue" sounds properly. Imagine my surprise and embarrassment, then, when I learned from a French friend that every time i was saying "beaucoup" (thank you) I was actually pronouncing like "beau cul" (nice ass). Horrified, I told my husband (then boyfriend) and asked why he never corrected me. He simple said "because it was cute!". Thank you nice ass!

"How's your arse love?..." - Eve J.
I had a similar problem with the u and ou sound. Tres awful. On my first date with Olivier he had hurt his neck. Do half way through the date I asked him with a 'concerned I would make such a good girlfriend' face: "ca va la cul" he looked at me horrified and then burst out laughing. "it's true, English girls are forward" he said. "how's your arse love?" my attempts at being demure died that day.

"Shock of the nipples, different kind of film..." - Rebecca Leffler
Probably TMI but when I first moved here I booked a bikini wax on the phone. She said "échantrée?" I thought she said enchantée so I was like OUI (thinking wow these beauty spa people are so nice in France) then walked out BALD ...

Or there's always the "je suis pleine" to mean I'm full but actually finish a meal with "I'm pregnant."

Or more recently in an interview "I really liked Le Choc des Tétons..." "You mean TITANS?" Oh right. Shock of the Nipples, different kind of film.

"Would it be possible for you to mount me?..." -Meg Zimbeck
Today's episode in nincompoopery unfolds with our heroine pedaling happily to work along the Canal St. Martin. The sun is shining, but not hot enough to warm the unwelcome smells of the sidewalk. Everything seems to be perfect...

When all of the sudden, Old Man appears in the bike lane. "Pardon!" I chirp, but the white hair doesn't see me. "Excusez-moi!!" I yell with more force as the distance narrows between us. It is only when I begin to squawk "Ding-DING! ding-ding-ding!!!" that Monsieur raises his head and takes the necessary steps to avoid being flattened by my machine of terror.

Moments later, it occurs to me: "I could buy a bell." Epiphany strikes just as I am crossing the doorstep of Atelier Go Sport, a bike repair shop along avenue Richard-Lenoir.

I wheel my bike in and say bonjour to the repairman who is airing some tires. I select my bell for 2.90 and join the line of women at the register. It's slow-going, as each customers' purchases are taken out of the package and attached somewhere on their bike. After 20 minutes, I'm up:

"Hi," I say in french. "Would it be possible for you to mount me?"

Eyes widen. I repeat, "C'est possible de me monter?"

"You're not shy," he tells me.

Shall we review a little french?

Vocabulary: monter - to assemble... to organize, set up (hey, that's right!)... to climb; to ride (oh, Christ.) as in a horse; to go upstairs.

Grammar: direct object pronouns - the bell receives the action. Not le Meg.

What I should have said was "C'est possible de la monter pour moi"


"I rarely know what an ass I'm making of myself..."
- Doni Belau
Great topic, I do not have any nearly as funny as I suppose I rarely know what an ass I'm making of myself. But I do recall my hubby ordering once (on the place des vosges) a Pot au Feuille instead of feu- pronouncing it the same as you would leaves, so he ordered a pot of leaves. We thought the waiter a bit rude for making fun of him ALL NIGHT for the mistake - but now that I think about it, yeah it was pretty funny. Luckily they brought out the pot au feu instead of a pot of leaves! One would have to be quite hungry for that.

"That's right! Beastiality folks!"
- Margo B.
My worst one was during summer study abroad, when I did an intensive language program in Avignon. Every mornng our prof made us speak by answering the question "quoi de neuf?" I proudly raised my hand with a perfectly constructed sentence in mind (so I thought) that even included the past tense. When the prof called on me I announced to the class that "hier,j'ai joui avec mes chiens." (I came with my dogs), that's right, beastiality, folks! Luckily, the rest of the class was no better than I in the passé composé and the prof had a laughing attack for a good 30 seconds before she explained to us all what I had actually said. Vive le learning!

"Let's go to the Wanky Museum!..."- I Heart Paris

For my part, I have declared that I refrain from eating food full of condoms ("j’aime pas manger des trucs pleins de preservatives"), and my latest and surprisingly regular side splitter is to tell my friends how I must absolutely go for my “head-arse booster” (“il faut absolument que j’aille me faire le tete-anus” – it’s tetanOs in French). I also tend to refer to the Musée de Quai Branly as the Musee de Quai Branlée and I find this just trips off the tongue more easily but isn’t great when your mother in law asks what you fancy doing of a Sunday afternoon (“Let’s go to the Wanky Museum!”)

"I feel truly handicapped..."- Karin B.
The worst thing I have ever said in French is... nothing. I'm still in that stage where speaking is so difficult for me, and not having enough vocabulary and expressions makes me feel truly handicapped. Saying nothing is also harmful because it means I'm not practicing at least *trying* to say more and really making the whole situation worse. I've been thinking about how saying something is better than saying nothing, even if in error. Like "beau cul" for "beaucoup" from Lindsey. *giggle* That is pretty cute, lol. ;-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Whato?

Ok Frenchies, let's start a list:

No Thanksgiving.
Ok, I get that. You don't care about the **correction: NATIVE AMERICANS***, you never slaughtered them mercilessly to the point of genocide, then stole their birth right, you out right don't give a flying monkey f*ck about them. I guess a holiday wouldn't make much sense. I forgive your general lack of understanding of this classic American holiday and your flagrant disgust of cranberry sauce. You don't know what you're missing, and you don't care.

No Saint Patty's.
Sucks, but I suppose I've no need to get hammered at 8am in the middle of the work week now that I'm over the 25-yr-hump. (Not sure my feeble, aging body could handle the hangover.) I'll overlook your lack of funitiude, and chalk it up to the fact that alcohol has no mysteries left for your noble countrymen and vignerons.

No 4/20.
D'accord, d'accord, though for a city so full of pot heads, I'm still surprised by that one. I can't seem to get through a Saturday evening out without getting a whiff of a slpiff (metro, parc, bakery... yeah that was a bit odd). I suppose you don't need a special day of smoking weed if you're out getting high on the weekends eh?

But no Cinco de Mayo? Really? Not a word in the press. The television, sadly, festiviless. I mean for once, you frenchies are involved. I expected more from you guys.

I miss the states just thinking about all the assholes who are going to go out and do shots of tequila wearing sombreros or painting fake Mexican mustaches on their faces, passing out while doing the Mexican Hat Dance or something else utterly retarded. Where are my fake mexican mustaches? Schools will be doing stupid cinco de mayo parties in spanish class. Where's the party over here?? Obviously not where I am.

The truly sad part is, I doubt ANY Americans know what 5/5 represents, but at least we do our damnedest to celebrate it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Put .. the NUT... DOWN!!

Some of my colleagues are... shall we say, comment-prone. But it's not so much the comments that matter, but my interpretation of them. For instance, the other day's comments went as follows:

10:30am: I grab 6 almonds (from a package I brought for everyone btw)
colleague: "You're eating already?"
(translation: "You fat american blond, put that down before your ass blows up to the size of Canada!!")

me: "Yes. I am. I had an early breakfast."
(translation: "EF YOU it's 6 almonds!!! BIG friggen DEAL?!?! What are you, the NUT NAZI?!)
ps: I didn't have an early breakfast. Why am I making excuses?!

colleague: (shakes her head)
(translation: "Ok, if you want to get fat, then eat them. Your decision.")

me: (sulks)
(translation: "Judgemental ditch.")

12:00pm: I'm not going to lunch with them because of the annoying NutNazi encounter.
colleague: "So I assume that you're not going to lunch with us."
(translation: "WHY do you HATE ME?!")

me: "that's correct. gotta work. Sorry."
(translation: "Because you count how many almonds I'm eating Nutler.")

colleague: (makes noise to show extreme disapproval.)
(translation: "You've no sense of etiquette...shame...")

2:00pm: I call my husband for about 1 minute.
colleague: "Do you have any time to speak about our project?" (+ weird look.)
(translation: "Are you going to work at all today?")

Me: "Sure. 5 min, & we're good." (+ weird look.)
(translation: "Zen. I am zen. Relax Shann-o. I will see you in 5 so I don't bite your head off.")

2:05pm: I make the HUGE mistake of eating more nuts.
colleague: "Again?" (+ weird judgemental look, plus tongue clicking noise.)
(translation: "I can see the layers of fat forming on your thighs btw.")

Me: "Yes. A-GAIN. MMMMMMMMM!!!" (+ sarcastic smile.)
(translation: "What the hell? Am I infringing on the nut's rights? Are you a nut activist? Let me eat in peace!!")

3:00pm: I'm cold.

Me: "Brr... what's up, did they turn on the AC or something? I'm freeeezing!"

Colleague: "Well, look at what you're wearing!" (laughs at me. hard.)
(translation: "Silly American, where's your french scarf?")

Me: (sulks some more.)

4:00pm: Someone brought in sweets. (of course.)
colleague: "So... the diet is off?" (grin)
(translation: "I'm never letting you live this down... EVER! You'll RUE the day you told me you were watching what you ate! MMuuuAAhAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAahahahhaha!!!")

Me: "Uh uh." (purposefully keeping eyes on my cake.)
(translation: "Back off.")

Why me? Why?? Is this a French thing, or a me thing? I'm dying to know. I seriously do like these people, but everyone has an off day now & again. This was mine. Ahhh.. the French. If you didn't love them so much, you'd hate them on days like these lol.

Everyone says you've got to prepare yourself for moments like these. They happen, and it's no big deal, you're supposed to get used to it. But I gotta admit, even after years of acclimation, I am still occasionally caught off guard by the judgmental frankness that comes with the territory. It's fine to them. Just fine. Normal. I sit back, writing this and have to laugh at how the differences in our cultures can be so flagrant. I'm sure it exists elsewhere, but where I come from... you don't speak about a girl's nuts.

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