Thursday, June 26, 2008

Food porn indeed

Seen just this moment on - a "lifestyle" site that has introduced a surprising number of my friends - it's Dating Advice from Food Writers!

Don't ask me what I was doing there, or if I have multiple fake profiles for my own amusement.

Instead, I'll ask you to guess in the comments which food writer said the following:

"A good rare beef liver is like being banged hard against a wall in a skeezy alley behind a nightclub."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Her Big Big Smile

I have just returned from a weekend in the French countryside.

Doesn't that sound lovely?

There is no internet in the French countryside, and very little spoken English. One is therefore forced to "relax," away from the computer, usually through HOURS of conversation.

Have I mentioned that I don't love French Meg?

French Meg smiles and nods a lot. She also laughs on cue. There are times when French Meg understands what you say, but she won't ask a single question. You may have covered that point already, and she probably already laughed.

Nod, smile. Ha ha HA!!

Not only am I a bit slow, I am indiscretely so. At 5'10'', I'm only slightly taller than average when playing on the home court. In France, however, I am walking talking circus show.

The result is that, in addition to babbling and smiling, I am often dressed kinda funny. It's not always my fault.

This weekend, the countryside hostess offered to lend me her slippers. I pantomimed something like "I don't think they fit!" looking at first disappointed, then smiling enormously.

She suggested that I just wear them over my toes, and I was unable to respond with anything other than a smile. I spent the next two days mincing around in her elfinwear, falling down (two times), and smiling.

Outside the chalet, her XS parka hit me just below the bra line. Even the mountain sheep were rolling their eyes. "It's cropped," I gestured in return, grinning madly the whole time.

My finest performance of the weekend can't be blamed on size. It came one night when I was too tired to climb the stairs for toothpaste, and instead started fishing around in the hosts' bathroom drawers.

Do I even need to type this? It's really too predictable...

I used their Fixodent.

It was exactly as you imagine.

And yet I kept on smiling, even with globs of waxy red stuff stuck in my gums.

Upon leaving, my soft-spoken host raised himself up to faire les bises and to say his parting words.

"Merci pour venir et... pour ton sourire... ENORME."

At least I think that's what he said.

* * * * *

For a different take on The Language Problem, please click on the veryfunny following from Paris blogger Kung Fu Dana.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Afternoon Delight with 'Sex' and Dorie

...not at the same time, mind you, although these photos may lead one to imagine that Pierre is showing off something other than his tattoos.

For someone who has too much work, I was a marvel of doing very little yesterday. There were good intentions and several hours of morning labor before the derailment of a boozy lunch at the wine bar Racines.

No matter. Time spent with cookbook authors David Lebovitz and Dorie Greenspan would sort of qualifiy as work if it weren't also so pleasurable. It's not often that I get to raise a glass with such slim-hipped foodie heavyweights and bask in the Rolland Garros-esque batting around of names. "When does Mark (Bittman) sleep?" and "Patricia (Wells) says so...," etc. In the moments when I wasn't exactly sure which Ruth (Reichl?) was being considered, I was more than happy to keep company with a towering tartare.

The food at Racines is lovely (more photos here), and almost as nice as the wine, which is nearly as compelling as the proprietor himself.

I caught myself staring too long at Pierre Jancou's plate-stacked arm and rhapsodizing about the way his tattoos were set off against a background of colorful floor tiles. Ahem...

The only consolation for such behavior is watching all the other customers - journalists from the nearby HQs, young girls, moustachioed middle agers - also trying to conceal their crush. I suppose that's what good food & wine does.

When we finally left it was 4pm, three hours before my next date. Not really enough time to go home and work, a bit too long for cafe squatting. I was pondering my options when I walked past the Rex and saw people lining up for Sex.

I'm not really the sort of girl who wants to watch in a group and then go out for Cosmos afterward. I frankly don't have the footwear to pull that off.

But I was curious and so plunged myself into the theater for some... "Jesus... is this in FRENCH?!"

It's true - I have now seen the dubbed! french! version of Sex in the City. And if the reviews are to be believed, I may have made the right choice.

A half-remembered snippet:

Smith: [looking down at his bulging groin] "J'ai un cadeau pour toi, ma chèrie."

Samantha: "J'ai quelque chose pour toi, aussi."
Believe it or not, this sort of dialogue actually feels profound when you have struggled to translate it.

After the movie, I made my way across town to say goodbye to two friends who are leaving Paris. I fear for their sanity, returning as they are to a land devoid of three hour lunches, where one is forced (!) to watch Sex in the stark original version.

Let's all wish them luck, shall we?

Monday, June 09, 2008

The 24-hour Wedding

At 9am on Saturday I was delivering breakfast pastries for a bride too nervous to eat.

24 hours later, I was returning in a cab after sharing a post-party beer in broad daylight (8am) with two old friends and Inaki Aizpitarte.

This being my first French wedding, I can only assume that they are all like this.

The marriage of Petite Anglaise and her Boy, in between those two early morning bookends, was a completely joyful affair.

Friends from both sides of the English Channel gathered for a ceremony at the town hall, champagne, a sweet lunch at Vin Chai Moi, more champagne, more food, rowdy dancing, and still more champagne.

What I'll never forget:

  • The radiance and endless grinning of the bride and groom
  • Le Maire, after performing his duties, admitting that he recognized Cath and asking for a photo with the couple
  • Seeing the groom's mother shaking her booty to Blur's "Girls & Boys"
  • Watching French girls throwing up discretely in the garden before returning to the party looking elegant as ever
A few photos are here. Thanks for a great party!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mucho Macho

Paris is a cultural capital for many, many reasons. An abundance of karaoke parlors is not one of them. And so it is with great anxiety that I announce the following:

I may no longer be welcome at L'Echanteur.

The city's best (only?) karaoke is in the basement of a dive bar in the Marais. Its management and clientele are "hetero friendly," but it helps to be accompanied by one of the Stars of Gayraoke.

One such Star was supposed to meet us at the bar last Saturday night. I arrived just after midnight with two boys and my new travel editor at the Wall Street Journal.

(Was that vulgar?)

Anyway, this distinguished visiting editor needed little encouragement, putting her Snoop Dogg slip in straight away. My inspiration came more slowly, but when it did I scribbled my song choice and found myself on the stage only moments later.

And that's when things began to turn ugly.

A "normal" karaoke night would find me taking to a stage much later, after several watery beers and having already witnessed other people's shame. On this particular night there was no posse to shield me from the unknown members of the audience. There was no former session singer at my side to do the backup. I was nearly - gasp! - sober.

But none of that would have mattered had I chosen the right song -

...had I NOT chosen to sing Macho Man a gay bar

...without really knowing the words.

Who knew there were words? Besides the chorus, I mean. They're actually (don't laugh), kind of hard. Which is why I found myself staring out at the horrified audience and mumbling "body... body... body? It's so hot my body? body... body.. check it out."

The editor, in an ill-considered moment of great compassion, rushed to the stage and began to gyrate in circles around me and, I think, to pantomime the macho man's chest hair.

"...check it out, my body."

That went on for far too long, the opening verse, but I was just SURE that when the chorus came we would all throw our heads back and our arms in the air and unite as macho men together.

It was dead quiet as Nikki and I, the two white girls in the gay bar, threw our heads back and began to scream the chorus.


And then the song went on another three or four minutes.


The DJ, who has seen me perform many challenging numbers in the past, actually said, "Goodbye Meg" instead of "thank you" at the end of the song.

And that's when I dropped and shattered my glass.


Nikki never got a chance to perform that night, her name seemingly blacklisted by association.

A shame, really, because I would have killed to watch her Drop It Like It's Hot. I had a clear image in mind of my employer rapping "I'm a bad boy, with a lotta hos," as I booty danced behind her. "SnooooooooOOOOOOP!"

Because I have no video of my disasterous performance, I offer instead this treasure from Brazil - two 22 year-old boys dancing Macho in their living room. The long-hair is my new summer crush and the spiritual twin of this guy. Where was HE when I needed him at L'Echanteur?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bridesmaid channeling

A "temoine" is not really a bridesmaid.

She's just a witness who needs to bring her passport to City Hall to sign something in French that she doesn't understand. Working backward, she needs to for once be on time, pick up flowers, and wake up...preferably not hung over.

It's not a big role by most people's definition. But because I so adore this friend (and am by nature a leader of rings), I have expanded the role of "temoine" to include party catering, guest DJing, and Hen Night Bringer of Shame.

The latter role was executed several weekends ago in London. The Brits had amassed on that side of the Channel for what Cath had hoped would be a stately affair. She'd even arranged the thing in Notting Hill (the London equivalent of Saint-Germain?) to decrease the overall odds of lewd behavior.

Little did she know that I had crossed into her territory with a sack full of props and no love for her dignity. And so while Cath's university friend was distracting her with shots, the assembled hens (several men included) were donning feather boas and bribing some Dutch boys to strip.

That's about all I can reveal, except to say that once the squealing died down, she really seemed to enjoy it.

Whether she remembers any of it is another question...

* * * * * * * *

One task down, then, and two to go.

For my music playlist, I've been instructed to "lay off the obscure indie crap," which leaves...? (I'll get back to you)

For the food, she has advised me to "be reasonable," i.e. choose 2-3 items instead of 12 to avoid spending the entire party in the kitchen.

Because someone's gotta be out there keeping an eye on that bride. I only wonder who will watch over me?

(more Hen Night photo evidence can be found over here)