French Superlatives

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Living in France

We went to the shittiest parade ever. I’ve been to some real doozies, too, (the Marlin Luther King Junior parade in Carson City, Nevada consisted entirely of the sole black family in town riding around on their bikes throwing Tootsie Pops to people who kept asking, “Who’s Dr. King, is that our pediatrician?”) This one, last weekend, was quite bad. It was advertised as “Armistice Day,” and described as a special day to commemorate the end of World War I. Instead, upset French citizens whistled at politicians while throngs of police officers in riot gear looked on menacingly. After, a car bearing the flag of each participating country drove down the Champs-ElysĂ©es while no one watched. It was like the Daytona 500 except without any rednecks or car crashes. If the combatants of WWI witnessed the sad “commemoration” of the cease fire they would have decided to just keep fighting. We commemorated the day by getting Malkie a well deserved pair of mittens. (It’s getting cold here!)

There are so many things right about this piece of bread.

There are so many things right about this piece of bread.

I have been eating ridiculously large amounts of bread. I assure you it’s been sufficiently large to require an internet search for any link between baguettes and big butts. (If you are ever tempted to recreate the results for such a search, and I cannot be more clear about this next part: never, ever looking at the image results. Seriously, you’ve been warned.) After moving into our apartment, I tried the nearby bakeries to see how good the baguettes and croissants were. Turns out the bakeries nearby don’t have the good stuff. Unwilling to “settle” in the City of Bread, I started expanding the search area and found a couple places that, while farther away, serve baguettes so good they make you crazy enough to post pictures of yourself on the internet doing unnatural things with loaves  of bread. One day, I ate half a baguette in my “sandwich” and spent the rest of the afternoon trying not to think about the remaining portion of the loaf hanging out all by itself in the kitchen. I have become a painophile. (Don’t google that one, either.) At some point I am going to write a whole post on the qualities of a good baguette. I just need to do some more research first, like maybe 50 or so loaves. I should be done by next week.

I think the morning Metro ride may be the quietest public transportation experience in the world. Getting on a cramped subway car, you’d expect that the interior of the car would be bustling with the sounds of life. Not so here. This is true even during rush hour, when the cars are completely full and every part of your body fits snugly into the body parts of those standing around you, like we are all just human-sized Lego blocks. Want to try something weird? Go stand next to someone on the street, placing your nose in their ear and don’t make a sound. It’s unsettling. I’d apologize for all the unintended bumping and grinding I have been doing, but I get the sense that verbalizing at all on the subway here would be an even bigger transgression. I would never have guessed it, but I miss the drunk homeless people on BART who mumble constantly about the impending attack of the alien vegetables.

Malcolm and I took the weirdest path ever to a baseball practice last weekend. I think we found a team for Malcolm to play on, but things got off to quite a rocky start. We took a (very quiet) metro to a commuter train, which after driving for 40 picturesque minutes through the French countryside, dropped us off in a village. Neither Google maps nor my innate sense of direction were able to get us to the field easily. So, there we were wandering through a village in rural France, looking for, of all things, a baseball field. Plus, it was around 38 degrees. Not your average Sunday morning in the Ile de France! Things got really bad when the road we were on promptly ended. One simply cannot give up when difficulties arise, however, so we continued on down a muddy path leading through a pasture. Certainly, there were times when I thought, “We are in a fucking meadow! This isn’t going to end up like we want it to.” I kept my game face on, though, and reminded Malcolm that the tastiest chickens are often the hardest to catch. Our perseverance paid off when the muddy path in the meadow eventually gave way to a dirt baseball field! I hadn’t told the coach we were going to attend the practice, I can’t imagine what he must have thought when we appeared out of the wilderness with a backpack loaded full of Malcolm’s baseball gear. We must have looked like aliens falling from the sky. Malcolm likes the team and I think it will be a good fit.

I just licked my screen uploading the picture.

I just licked my screen uploading the picture.

We live across the street from some of the best desserts in France. Turns out that, while the bakery around the corner from us doesn’t make memorable baguettes, it does crank out desserts that could end World Wars. We started with a chocolate cake whose name escapes me because when the clerk was explaining what is was, I was lost in its impossibly shiny chocolate exterior. We had the cassis tarte this weekend and it wasn’t so much a dessert as it was a love letter from the Michelin starred owner’s brain to your tongue. They even serve their desserts at a neighborhood restaurant and we had raspberry religieuse that was so beautiful we hated to eat it. (Every luscious bite!) The desserts are almost perfect. They look stunning. The taste is perfectly balanced, not too sweet, not too rich and not too far that we can’t run over there after dinner and quickly grab a perfect last bite to end our day, good or bad. And with the days that we have sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.

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One response to “French Superlatives”

  1. Conrad says:

    I can’t believe you crashed a baseball practice via the field of dreams. In the middle of nowhere France. Was Kevin Costner the coach? I guess that could only be the case if he was wearing a beret.

    Keep having fun!

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