The Invasion

I am sitting on the couch in my living room because someone has stolen the chair at my desk. On the coffee table before me sits a pencil case with a Leichtenstein-like illustration of a woman who exclaims, “Oh God, I’m so bloody blonde sometimes!”

The chair thief is my daughter’s friend. It is lunch time and about 1/2 an hour ago the buzzer rang. I was ironing my sheets. Naked. Don’t ask me why, it is beyond even me. So I throw on some jeans, the boyfriend’s t-shirt and head downstairs to open the door, where three loud, giggly teens await. I can’t put a single name to the faces, but I do know that they are part of E’s social circle. I am momentarily shocked by the decible they emit before realizing two more are fast on their heels, coming up the 7 flights to our front door and even more are in the lobby waiting for the elevator to complete its round trip. I welcome them, wishing them a bonjour before inquiring, “I imagine E will be joining you, or is this a hostile take over?” Laughter.

Giggles and joy. I so love having this in my home. The girls trooped in, some pasta, sauce and cookies came flowing from their bags as they asked for pots and pans. They proceeded to cook their lunch, set the table and chat among themselves. No smooshed-up sandwiches coming from beat up lunch boxes for this crowd. Ze Freench can cook! The conversation was a unique blend of French and English and focused primarily on homework,  study for the upcoming midterm exams and how to combat jetlag. I imagine that it would have turned to gossip and boys had I not been so close.

Someone announced, “We have to go soon,” and there was another flourish of activity as the table was cleared, the dishes were put into the machine, pots scrubbed and the invaders headed out for their next conquest…

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Just say No

C’est n’est pas possible (its impossible) is a standard response from customer service agents across France. No matter what you are trying to accomplish, the initial response is generally: no. It usually takes a bit of effort with some creative problem solving and maybe a dash of flirting before voilà, a solution is found and the emphatic “no” becomes a yes.

I am not indulging in a blatant stereotype, either.

Last week I invited E to see the Madeleine Vionnet show at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs. “No, I don’t want to go.” I explained what an amazing show it was and how modern the dresses were, but it was too late, she’d stopped listening as soon as the “m” word had been mentioned.  Two days later she had a friend home for lunch and the friend spotted an article on the exhibition that had somehow made its way into the kitchen. “Oh, how cool. I’d love to go to this show.”

“I wanted to bring E, but she’s just not interested.”

“Are you kidding? I wish my Mom would take me to shows about fashion.”

Suddenly, E was interested. “Can I see that? It does look cool… do you think we can go next weekend, Mom?”

“Of course, but why did you automatically say no when I first asked?”

“I have to say no first, I am French”

wfd ? Steamed green beans in tomato sauce, steamed carrots sautéed with orange juice and thyme, IKEA frozen meatballs. (guess where we went this weekend?)

My vice, #138

Every year Christmas arrives and the natives start to go wild for foie gras and caviar and the famous Bûche de Noël. I am happy for them. I really am, but I have to confess, despite accusations that I am a fille de luxe, I hate caviar and could really live without fat livers. Which is not to say I don’t have my seasonal vice. I do.

You see, I have this not too secret passion for funghi.  From the mundane solidity of the supermarket mushroom to the snow white elegance of Enokitaki ribbons I go into poetic rhapsodies for mushrooms. The stuffed morels at Chez Josphine, Dumonnet send me into a profound contemplation as my taste bud’s absorb every nuance of flavour and The Frenchman’s poëlé of wild mushrooms is a weekly request.

So when I die, I want to come back as a truffle hound. The earthy, complex aromas make my knees weak. I’d probably like it better as a truffle pig (they sometimes manage to steal a few for personal consumption), but I recently heard about a 93 year old truffle hunter who would live with her pig in the house, beakfasting together, loving it as a grandchild and then each spring, cart her companion off to the butcher as a reward for a job well done.

All this to say, it’s truffle season and yesterday I went to my personal supplier who sells what he hunts, cutting out many middle men and making the little clod-like treasure affordable. Which is not to say reasonable. I did spend 20 euros on a fungus. ONE fungus. And now, there is a fungus among us.

wfd ? I also picked up some farm fresh eggs that have been absorbing the aroma for the past 24 hrs. Tonight the Frenchman returns from China and will be put directly to work at the stove top. His scrambled eggs are divine, so the jetlag will have to wait.

Multi Tasking.

That’s me, Madame multi tasker. I love doing two or three things at once. It makes me feel efficient and keeps me from getting bored. In other households this could be seen as ADHD, but it works for me. Today, however, I truly surpassed myself.

First, I must explain. My 12 year old is something of a yenta, or more appropriately for Paris, une concierge, and seems to know everyone in this town. Sounds exaggerated, but a few months ago she looked over my should as I was googling my gynecologist.

“Dr. M? As in Anne-Sophie M? What do you want with her? She’s a gynecologist. OMG She’s you doctor? She sees you… uhm, well, down there? Oh gross! That’s S’s Mom! You can’t see her! That’s S’s Mom! Oh, I am going to die! Oh Nooooo, are you pregnant? Eeeee! Mom is pregnant!” Hilarious, I know, but you get my point. How is it that my 12 year old knows my gynecologist? And yes, ADHD does run in the family.

We’ve gotten over the shock and everyone seems to have turned the page. My daughter even invited the MD’s daughter, S, to spend ski week in Miami, but S and just about every other teen in a 100 block radius, is going skiing.

Today I went to visit the famous Dr. M. I love this woman. She has literally saved my life, not to mention my sanity and my sexuality. It is unusual having a social connection with your gyno, but we seem to manage. I lay there, bare from the waist down, my feet in stirrups and cold metal all around when I raised my head and apologised for the late notice invitation (ski week is the X’s and as usual he is not organized). Dr M perked up. “Oh, yes, I was meaning to talk to you about that….” and there I was, having my IUD inserted as I planned my daughter’s vacation schedule. Now that is something a Dad could never do!

WFD ? All those leftover veggies, a rack of lamb for the girls and the Gallette des Rois.

Brrrr….

Its cold outside. And these draft-y Parisian apartments are far from weather proof. Large windows that let the wind come whistling in, the zinc roof that acts like a kryptonite magnet for the cold… they just were not thinking conservation when they built these places.

Cashmere. I need cashmere. Too bad the Mongolian goats are destroying the planet and creating dust storms that reach all the way to LA, because I could really use some cashmere about now.

wfd ? zucchini sautéed with tomatoes, roasted squash with Chinese 5 spice and cauliflower gratin (Sautée the cauliflower with onion and garlic until soft. Place in a casserole with a cup of milk, salt, pepper, grated nutmeg and a bit of shredded cheese. Bake until the cauliflower falls apart easily with a fork.)

Deprived

or rather, depraved? Being home playing nurse has meant no time for the Sales. Sales are federally mandated in France, meaning we only get a true sale season twice a year, in January and in July. This periods last five weeks and then it is full boat retail for the next six months. You can understand how important these sales become.

They become so important, in fact, that pathetic little women like myself feel completely deprived if we miss the season, which is rather depraved when you realize that you don’t need anything and what you want is more money on sale than anyone should ever pay for a ski jacket to begin with.

The bug is well now, and back in class and I spent the day at home being productive. Writing blogs and job hunting. Like a good girl. <<sigh…>>

The Swine – day 2

It’s -6 out today, so I am actually thankful for the day in.

The Bug is wiped out by the fever, so sleeps peacefully as I take a quick stroll to get some air and some milk. We were out of milk (bad mommy). It is beautiful out and peaceful as we are all weather wimps over here.

I’ve got nothing better to do, so I’m off to make Boeuf bourguignon. Perfect for the cold and I just happen to have all the fixin’s at hand. When I first moved here I was a real US foodie and had been brain washed that you must ALWAYS use the very best ingredients at all times. But BB requires an entire bottle of burgundy and when I went to my local cavist (wine shop) to request something for my stew, the traditional grandmotherly lady pulled out the cheapest plonk she could find, explaining that cooking the good stuff would be a waste. What a relief for my pocket book.

Off to score some mommy points after this mornings tragic “no milk” incident.

WFD : see above.