Thursday, April 26, 2007

La crème de la crème

Ahh... french women.

I'm a little bit obsessed with them. We share the same sidewalks but seem to occupy two different planets. I feel foreign around them, like a cross-dresser in their midst.

And yet I find myself slowly migrating and starting to mimic their strange behavior. Just look at what I did to my face!

It occurred to me today that I could cream myself french - that culture may be a simple matter of conditioning.

This was following a conversation with some male victims on Gmail chat about the words that they use to for les françaises.

"Douceur" was the first response and an obvious effect of creaming.

The second description was "complicated," and can also be attributed to beauty products. To simplify the theory (Descartes, I believe it was) about local ladyplexity and the differentiation of creams: if the pharmacy in a given culture is selling two seperate creams for knee and thigh skin, than the women in said culture will be crazy.

The third adjective, "elusive," is also related to the regimen. A stong commitment to hair removal leaves little time to return phone calls. Is Delphine being coy... keeping you quivering with anticipation? Or did she just not have time to shave her legs?

The final word, "passionate," was used multiple times, and I gotta give the girls credit on this one. French women are without a doubt more sensual than their American counterparts.

Some say our prudishness is the by-product of Protestantism. But I think it's all about lubrication. Sensuality must increase with the number of hours spent self-lotioning. All that rubbing is bound to make a girl think about sex.

I pressed the same boys to give me some additional words for Americans. I heard "franche," "bold," "assertive," "confident," "strong," "busy," and "delurée."

At least half of those adjectives are directly related to alcohol. And french girls, after their 70 breast cream, can rarely afford more than one drink. Americans may have an edge in the "strong" and "witty" department, but it would be wrong to say that French women aren't busy. The work of beautification is invisible to men, but the breasts, rest assured, are not lifting themselves.

"A few kilos, at least" is how Nabékor summed up our cultural differences. But this, too, I'm happy to report, has a cream-based solution.

Monday, April 23, 2007


A cheer rang out around 8pm over the waters of the Bassin de la Villette.

We left the sun and found a wood-paneled café with a TV mounted above the jukebox. The space, empty when we arrived, was soon filled with young faces.

They were washed with relief upon hearing the broad outlines: Sarko and Ségo and defintely no Le Pen. But that (unbeatable?) 30% brought silence and worry - would Sarkozy really be the next president?

I remembered the anxiety that filled a similar bar seven years ago. We were gathered at Simon's to watch the map turn red. The same unbelieving questions were being asked about Bush. But not one among us had voted.

Stellar excuses abounded that night: I had gone to the wrong polling place. Many others had forgotten to register. And our votes weren't needed in Illinois...

For the French - who plan vacations around voting - this kind of apathy is incomprehensible. Nearly 85% cast a ballot yesterday, and turnout is expected to be even greater on May 6.

A mild depression has set in today among my lefty friends and colleagues. Not one of them is excited about their candidate. The "anyone but Sarko" ballot is not an inspiring one to cast. But they will do it anyway - and in huge numbers. Which is more than their US counterparts seem capable of.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Near miss in Montmartre


The Shins were recently a few blocks from my apartment recording one of my favorite songs as a Concert à Emporter.

The tractor beam - the one that should have pulled me through the open window and deposited me within grabbing range of all that facial hair - was not working.

How could I not have known?

I suppose it's better this way. Had I been there, the "Gone for Good" video would have included a distant female backing vocal.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spring Crush

Daniel Rose, the American chef, is being wooed. Every day his phone at Spring rings off the hook. "Are you free?" beg the callers, a little too desperate at times for his taste. The answer, short of ten days' notice, is no.

Hard-to-get is not just a pose for a man with sixteen seats. The diners know their luck in scoring a date. They have read the reviews and know all the rules: one seating and no substitutions. They arrive bursting with anticipation, walking billboards for the season.

The foodie faithful enter the 26 m2 chapel through a door that Rose designed. They are greeted by the acolyte, a lovely waitress who whispers the menu. She constitutes, aside from the occasional stagière, the entire staff of Spring. Rose himself shops and mops and does everything else in between.

The "clients," as he likes to call them, fall silent with the first course - a velouté sans crème (carotte). They ponder the secret (duck fat) behind his famous creamless soup, which is prettied by a foie gras throw pillow.

When presented with a whole dorade, stuffed with rosemary and red onion, every diner wears the young face of love. Round three, during which Rose wanders, looking worried and asking about salt, is spring lamb en croute à l'Italien .

One wonders, watching Rose with his clients, if perhaps he is wooing them, too. But as he builds the dessert, little towers of cake and cream, the object of his desire becomes clear. Is he touching a lover's face or arranging a garnish? This young chef has got it bad for his food.

28 rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, 75009
Tuesday - Friday nights only
Tel: 01 45 96 05 72