Tag Archives: francais

reality bites: “quatre jours” (continued, journée 3)

quatre jours: four days

Journée 3 : Paris chic et gourmand (Chic and foodie Paris)

Shopping for cheese at La Fermete, Rue Montorgeuil

1. Rue Montorgueil (2e)
Start the day at the nothern end of Rue Montorgueil; this historic market street is home to the supposed best éclair in Paris, among a number of other famous and lauded fromageries, boulangeries, épiceries, et bistros.  For breakfast, I’d suggest to poke your head into Eric Kayser for a morning pastry.  The brioche au chocolat blanc is literally one of my favorite things to eat in Paris.

2. Saint Eustache
When you reach the southern end of Rue Montorgueil, pop into the church on your right – Saint Eustache.  Don’t forget to check out the unique heart shaped windows, and when you leave out the front door, look for La Droguerie, a colorful tricotage shop.

Copper pots at E. Dehillerin

3. Magasins de Cuisine (1e/2e)
As you leave Saint Eustache and pass by La Droguerie, continue to suivre Rue Coquillière to the point where it intersects with Rue du Louvre.  On this corner stands E. Dehillerin, one of the oldest kitchen/restaurant supply stores in Paris, and a personal favorite shop of Julia Child.  In fact, this whole neighborhood is filled with lovely cooking stores, appropriately surrounding the former site of Les Halles (the famed central Parisian market).  Turn left out of E. Dehillerin, and follow Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Rue Montmartre, where you will find several other worthwhile cooking stores, including Bovida and Mora.

A Parisian passage couvert

4. Galeries et Passages Couverts (2e/8e)
After you’ve spent an hour or two playing le gourmand, follow Rue Montmartre north until it becomes Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre (this switch occurs when you traverse Boulevard Poissonière).  On the left-hand side, at 31 bis, you will find the Passage Verdeau.  This is one of a handful of gorgeous covered passages/galleries that remain from the mid-19th century, when the upper-crust of the rive droite found it safer and chicer to shop indoors.  Only 20 or so of the original 150 passage remain, and they are truly some of the most spectacular, interesting, and overlooked attractions in Paris.  (For a list of the most beautiful passages, click here or check out this website with a map of the passages (in French)).  From Passage Verdeau, you can follow a series of passages until you find yourself near the Opéra.

5. Palais Garnier et Galleries Lafayette
When you’ve exhausted the succession of passages heading ouest from Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, head towards the Galleries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann.  This historic department store is one of the oldest in Paris, and the main building has a gorgeous stained glass ceiling (over the perfume section) that is not to be missed.  Anyone craving a good peek at the Eiffel Tower – or who just wants to get their bearings – should head to the toit, where there is a lovely view of the Opéra de Paris
(Palais

Palais Garnier, as seen from the roof of Galleries Lafayette

Garnier)The Palais Garnier is your next stop after Galleries Lafayette, a historic building known among tourists as the setting for the Phantom of the Opera (and a visit to the building will only reinforce your wildest theatrical fantasies).  The place does feel downright haunted, and you cannot help but imagine the lavish soirées and opening nights of centuries passed.  A self-guided tour is well-worth the 9€ entry fee, if you have the time. 

6. Madeleine et macarons
From the Opéra, descend southwest along the Boulevard des Capucines, to Place Madeleine.  Pop your head into the church, which has an impressive altarpiece (if you feel so inclined), or continue sans arrêt down Rue Royale to La Durée, the most famous macaron shop in Paris.  Sweet tooths should definitely sample a smattering of mini-macarons; my favorite flavor is cassisviolet.

Children playing in the Palais Royal courtyard

7. Saint Honoré et Palais Royal

While you nibble on macarons, quickly poke your head down to Place de la Concorde, renown as the spot where Louis XVI (and other important historic figures) lost their têtes to the guillotine.  Head back north on Rue Royale, and swing right on Rue Saint Honoré, the most chic shopping street (no it’s not the Champs Elysées) in modern-day Paris.  Home to stores such as the much-lauded concept store Colette, this street also runs adjacent to several historic squares, including the Place Vendôme and the must-see Palais Royal.  Make sure to take a tour through the arcaded garden and courtyard of the latter monument, which houses such institutions as the most-prominent Parisian antiques dealer and the oldest (continually operating) restaurant in Paris.

8. Et après?
The nearby Louvre is actually lovely in the evening, whether for a jaunt through the courtyard or a proper visit to the musée.  The Louvre des Antiquaires is also à cô– a veritable wonderland of antiques that could intrigue even the most bored of museum-goers.  Or if you’re feeling outdoorsy, perhaps it’s time to vadrouiller through the Jardin de Tuileries.  Those in the mood for a cocktail (or a nightcap) might enjoy a stop at le Fumoir, and the nearby Rue de l’Arbre Sec is a hot-bed of culinary hit-makers, housing some of the very best restaurants in Paris (if you haven’t made reservations, try for a spot at Le Garde Robe, a small bar à vins).

(Journée 2Journée 4)

—vocabulaire—


fromageries, boulangeries, épiceries, et bistros > cheese shops, bakeries, grocery stores and bistros

brioche au chocolat blanc > white chocolate brioche

tricotage > knitting

suivre > follow

le gourmand > the foodie

traverse > cross

rive droite > right bank (of the Seine river)

toit > roof

soirées > parties

sans arrêt > without stopping

macaron > a typically Parisian dessert – meringue sandwich with jam or cream like filling

cassis-violet > blackcurrant-violet

têtes > heads

musée > museum

à côté > next door

vadrouiller > ramble

bar à vins > wine bar

 

2 Comments

Filed under reality bites, Uncategorized

reality bites: “meilleur”

meilleur (adj.) : the best

I’ll be returning to Paris in two weeks (for the first time since I left in August ’10) and I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of meilleur – and more specifically about mes meilleurs souvenirs of Paris.  The places I loved best, the food I can’t stop dreaming of, the songs that were a soundtrack to my time there – not to mention the people I shared all of this with.

And so if it be for paresse (see: the desire to break out of normal prose) or nostalgie – or even just a reminder that you should check out my Paris page (and my New York page while you’re at it)…

I’m starting a sort of countdown in installments, of the places, things, songs… – that are if not le meilleur, they are mon meilleur de Paris

Part I : Mon meilleur… (Paris comestible)

a sandwich on a Huré baguette

BOULANGERIE

– (overall): Moisan; (5 Place d’Aligre/2 Rue De Bazeilles and other locations)

casse-croute : the brioche de chocolat blanc at Eric Kayser (87 Rue d’Assas and other locations)

– baguette : Huré; (18 rue Rambuteau/10 Place d’Italie)

– sandwich : Guichard Stephane (5 rue Vavin)

– meringue : Boulangerie (64 Rue des Gobelins)

fougasse : Richard Lenoir market (Thursday/Sundays at Bastille, along Blvd Richard Lenoir)

Pain de Sucre marshmallows ("guimauves")

OTHER SHOPS

fromagerie : Laurent Dubois (47ter Boulevard Saint Germain)

fromagerie (cheap) : Cheeses of the Day at Genty Gastronomie (169 Boulevard Vincent Auriol)

– spices : Goumanyat (3 Rue Dupuis)

– spices (cheap) : Graineterie/Epicerie du Marché d’Aligre (8 Place d’Aligre) — also my fave for dried beans and other products

– health food : Au Grand Appétit (9 Rue de la Cerisaie)

vin : Again, Le Verre Volé (67 rue de Lancry)

– cooking supplies : Mora (13 Rue Montmartre)

– sweets (general, not a chocolate specialist) : Pain de Sucre (14 Rue Rambuteau)

MARKETS

– overall : Place d’Aligre

– indoor : Marché Saint-Quentin (85 bis Blvd Magenta)

– cheap : Marché Auguste Blanqui (Blvd Auguste Blanqui)

My fave "ethnic" food in Paris - Lebanese at Paris Beirut

RESTOS

bar à vin with food : (tie) Café de la Nouvelle Mairie (19 rue des Fossées St. Jacques) & Le Verre Volé (67 rue de Lancry)

– tasting menu : Chez L’Ami Jean (27 rue Malar)

– sit-down crêperie : Breizh Café (109 Rue Vielle du Temple)

– ethnic (non-French) : Paris-Beirut (242 rue de Tolbiac)

– cheap : Au Pied de Fouet (96 Rue Oberkampf)

crèpe at Breizh Café

– outdoor : Chez Prune (36 Rue Beaurepaire)

– lunch : Rose de France (24 Place Dauphine)

– lunch (cheap) : (tie) Art Macaron (129 Blvd Montparnasse) and Cuisine de Bar (8 rue Cherche-Midi)

– nicer/date-night : La Gazzetta (29 Rue de Cotte)

CAFES

– coffee : Café Malongo (50 Rue Saint-André des Arts)

chocolat-chaud : Les Deux Magots (6 Place St Germain des Prés)

– people watching : Again, Les Deux Magots

– studying/reading : Café Maure, Mosquée de Paris (39 Rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire)

This may not be an exhaustive list – but I think it’ll get any happy gastronome started…
(Please note, in terms of meat, fish, roasted chicken, vegetables etc. – I always bought them in my favorite markets.  This is why separate stores are not listed).

—vocabulaire—

mes meilleurs souvenirs > my best memories

paresse > laziness

nostalgie > nostalgia

le meilleur > the best

mon meilleur de Paris > my best of Paris

Paris comestible > edible Paris

boulangerie > bakeries

casse-croute > snack

brioche de chocolat blanc > white chocolate brioche (eggy, fluffy pastry)

fougasse > a flat, almost pizza-crust-ish bread with olives or other bits mixed in

bar à vin > wine bar

crêperie > crepe restaurant

chocolat-chaud > hot chocolate

fromagerie > cheese shop

vin > wine

gastronome > food-lover, foodie

Leave a comment

Filed under reality bites

typique : “colloque”

colloque (n.m.) : conference

I never thought I would say this, but I think there may be one instance in which the French are definitively plus bien organisé que their american counterparts: the academic colloque.

Je déconne pas.  In the US,  I’ve attended a number of academic conferences at a few univerisities.  While the venues are often fantastic, (see high-tech and high-ceiling’ed with tripped out all-in-one podiums), the start time, the transitions between presentations, the mic volume, the tech delays, even the behavior of the attendees – all leave something to be desired.

I remember the first time I attended a colloque in France.  It was in Paris, at Paris IV (one of the many branches of the Sorbonne) and it was about “Le restauration dans le monde“.  The two day conference passed without a single hitch.  From the exportation globale of the Irish pub, to the integration and the movement for the authentification of la cuisine japonaise in Paris, one presentation flowed into another without a technical mishap, major delay, or other general pandemonium.

This was strange – at least to me – for two reasons.

1) The conference was organized by a Ph.D. student.  For those of us who have ever dealt with the average American student finishing their doctorat – organization, promptness, and general reliability are not the words that came to mind.  I have collaborated with graduate students on things as simple as the organization of a Christmas party, and their ability to vanish from the face of the earth at the most inconvenient moment is really astounding.  (Toutes mes excuses à my grad student potes – I, of course, am not talking about vous – winkwink/nudgenudge).

2) The conference had a number of foreign presenters.  Let’s be clear, I love les étrangers – and especially intellectual ones.  Anyone who speaks multiple languages and travels extensively is my kind of person.  But let’s be clear.  My American collègues at their various universities could really do a better job to prepare ces pauvres for what lies ahead.  Microphone feedback, laptop connection mishaps,  and competitive, lengthy, incoherent intellectual jousting with other chercheurs in the room claiming to be asking “a question”.  I blame the American tendency towards politesse.  I think a stern hand at the helm of the colloque ship is what we need.  And by gosh, the French have it.


Entre parenthèses –
this seems like a good moment to acknowledge that the French do have some of their own cultural colloque issues.  The most important would be that they have yet to distinguish the difference between une question and un commentaire.  In a language where intonation is key, the point d’interrogation and its corresponding rise in the pitch of one’s voice somehow disappear at the colloque Q&A…

The final point I’d like to make is that the French seem to have learned one colloque secret that Americans have not.  They might provide coffee, tea, and the occasional muffin/bakery item – but they do not attempt to serve meals in-house.  All the intervenants and the members of the audience go on their merry way to the pay-ahead meal at a nearby restaurant or some other dining facility.  This plan has a number of benefits, but primarily two:

1) No tapeurs.  I organize a number of conferences myself, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people come just for the food.  These people take up space and have no sense of respect for presenters; they get up in the middle of talks to refill their plates with leftovers, and munch along loudly, to the disgust of anyone within ear or eyeshot (who have consequently just missed the last 10 minutes of the presentation, due to the distraction).

2) No extra clean-up.  This seems like a stupid comment, but people are really disgusting.  (That half eaten cookie? Oh, I’ll just leave it on the buffet table near all the other untouched ones…).  It is my experience that food can often bring out the worst in people – though this may, admittedly, be a very American problem that one doesn’t find in France.

In résumé: to my dear fellow Americans working at universities, a few words of advice.
– Learn to use the technology with which you have been provided.  OR – If you do not know how to use a touch-screen, all-in-one remote that controls everything from the overhead projector to the window shades, please do not install one.
– Stop feeding us, s’il vous plait.  Or if you must feed us, do it at a restaurant.  University catering is often less-than-palatable, and I really would rather not know about the unpleasant eating habits of people I (used to) respect.
– Be less accommodating.  Do not let the more bizarre members of the intellectual community take your conference captive.  The man who continues to make lengthy comments instead of asking questions should not be called upon again.  In fact, he is probably only here for the food, and this is his effort to prove he is not a tapeur and that he was really paying attention.

And a final note to all colloque attendees…
Lavez-vous.  Sitting in a cramped room with others necessitates bathing.  It’s a bit unfair for an American to claim that the French smell bad, if he shows up smelling rotten himself.

vocabulaire

plus bien organisé que > better organized than

Je déconne pas > I’m not kidding (slang)

Sorbonne > The historic Parisian university

Le restauration dans le monde > Restaurants (the culture, business of, etc.) in the world

exportation globale > global/world-wide export

authentification > verification, authentification

la cuisine japonaise > Japanese cuisine

doctorat > doctorate

Toutes mes excuses à > my apologies to

potes > friends (slang)

vous > you (plural or formal)

les étrangers > foreigners

collègues > colleagues

ces pauvres > these poor chaps

chercheurs > researchers

politesse > politeness

Entre parenthèses > an aside (literally, “in parentheses”)

une question > a question

un commentaire > a comment

point d’interrogation > question mark

intervenants > presenters

audience > audience, public

tapeurs > leeches, mooches (slang)

résumé > summary

s’il vous plait > please, if you please

Lavez-vous > Wash yourselves

Leave a comment

Filed under typique

word on the street: “une teigne”

teigne (n.f.) : a pain in the ass, a “real piece of work” (an aggressive, nasty and/or mean person)

Your friends may call you many things.  Gorgeous, funny, awesome…annoying, selfish, flaky…”ringworm”….

"I insult in every language". I'm sure this is just as helpful as the "Point It" picture dictionary.

Wait, what?  Ouai, c’est ce que j’ai dit. If you really want to insult your “friends”, the French have just made it that much more exciting.  Forget those normal adjectifs that you’ve been stocking up for their worst days.  Really get to the coeur of the problem.  They’re just a skin infection you can’t wait to get rid of, that can cause anything from la perte des cheveux to des ampoules.

Seriously though – this is hysterical.  I was at a bar in Brooklyn with some French friends last night, when one of them said to me – “Carly, comment tu traduis “une teigne”?” (Carly how do you translate “une teigne”).  I’d never heard of the word before (luckily, that’s one medical condition I’ve never needed to discuss in French) – so I pulled out my smart phone and replied – um…”moth”?  Mais non.  Because, in addition to sounding incredibly insulting when referencing “ringworm”, teigne can also mean “mite” or “clothes moth”.  As if that were more complimentary.

The long story short is that, apparently, this lovely lady can sometimes be “une teigne“.  At least according to her friends back in France.  (I for one find her rather spectacular, if culottée, so I’m guessing that it must be a term laced with ironic affection?).

The whole back-and-forth about it really got me thinking though.  Tehy-gnuh.  There’s lots of good aggressive consonant action in there.  I can just see a marvelous break-up scene in a French film, where the mec turns (in the middle of a dark and cobble-stoned street of course) – fed up and crazed by the incessant nagging and insecurities of his other half – “T’es une TEIGNE!”. Or where an equally fed up woman, in a beautifully decorated Parisian apartment, climbs up to “put away” the good china – and turns slowly, only to lancer a stream of beautiful dinnerware at her unassuming brute of a husband – screaming “quelle TEIGNE”.

"Mr. Asshole" might know at little something about being "une teigne"...

Ok, perhaps I’m over-doing it.  But I feel like a movie scene where two amants (soon to be ex-amants) insult each other with a slew of different medically-inspired insults would be rather entertaining.  “You walking pneumonia!  I can’t believe I ever found your foot-fungus-of-a-personality to be attractive!  If only I had known you would become such a horrible case of “LA TEIGNE”!  Grey’s Anatomy, ER (and every other doctor drama that I don’t watch so I don’t know your name), I’m giving you this one for free.

And on that note, (dead horse beaten), I’ll just quietly await some unsuspecting nag of a person to use this lovely gritty insulte upon.
(Note: in the case of using said insult on a non-french speaker, it’s probably best to put a little extra grit in the GN)

—vocabulaire—

Ouai, c’est ce que j’ai dit > Yea, that’s what I said.

adjectifs > adjectives

coeur > heart

la perte des cheveux > balding, “the loss of hair” also known as la chute des cheveux

des ampoules > blisters

Mais non > But no

culottée > bold, sassy, cheeky (literally means “wearing underwear”…but I digress)

mec > guy

T’es une TEIGNE! > you’re a “case of ringworm”

lancer > hurl, throw

quelle TEIGNE > what a “case of ringworm”

amants > lovers

insulte > insult


Leave a comment

Filed under word on the street

snapshot : “galette des rois”

galette des rois : “king’s cake” – a traditional cake eaten in France in January to celebrate the feast of the epiphany.

No, I didn’t make this galette.  But I’m going to!  For the next two weeks I’ll be working chez moi (due to renovations at work), and so in addition to the endless flow of emails and other daily tasks, I can also cook (see: not burn the house down by putting things in an unwatched oven).

Anyway, the lovely Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini posted a recipe for this traditional dessert online – and I thought I’d help spread the word to other eager, ambitious, francophile bakers.

But as Clotilde suggests – n’oublie pas la fève!

—vocabulaire—

galette > a plain, round, flat cake

chez moi > at my house (well, apartment)

n’oublie pas la fève > don’t forget the bean! (the bean being a little porcelain object – usually a religious figure, crown, etc. – that will hold up during baking.  The person who gets the bean in their slice of galette wins – i.e. is “king”.)

Leave a comment

Filed under snapshot

reality bites : “attentes”

attentes (n.f.p.) : expectations

Each year, as le réveillon approaches and passes, we pull out and dust-off the age-old discussion of les résolutions de Nouvel An.  Whether it’s attempting to perdre du poids, to learn how to cook, to save more money, to arrêter de fumer – the passing from one year to another seems to simultaneously deplore time wasted and restore optimistic faith in our ability to change our worse habitudes.

Personnellement, I never liked new year’s resolutions or carême or any other communal movement towards self-betterment.  When I was younger, I didn’t find this group-mentality particularly inspiring, nor did I want my goals and achievements to be trivialized or defined by their coinciding with a certain holiday or period of time.  But as my years are no longer structured by the scholarly September-May schedule, and the future spreads out wide, undecided, and surprisingly arbitrary before me – I’m finding le Nouvel An to be a more resonant concept.  However, my new year’s reflections tend less towards les buts, but concentrate moreso on les attentes.

If l’année passée is to be defined by something in particular, it would have been my expectations – and how it surpassed or fell short of these attentes.  For example, I recall my return to Paris in janvier of 2010.  I had spent two or three weeks at my parents’ house for the holidays, mulling over the past few months in my mind, being anything but present in the moment.  This resulted in my being rather miserable at home, and I arrived back in Paris with pre-fabricated expectations of an amazing year ahead.  But where j’ai attendu to feel overjoyed and completely fulfilled by my return, I instead found myself with a bizarre, unshakeable case of mal du pays.  I spent the next two months doing everything I could to overcome this ironic condition – riding my vélib everywhere (despite the miserable pluie and ciel gris), throwing parties, going to fabulous restaurants…   and in over-compensating for my unexpected misery, I failed miserably in turn.  Somewhere around the month of March, things really fell apart, and the espoir with which I had approached my retour à Paris completely faded away.

It was at that precise moment that I began to again appreciate Paris, and the following 6 months – until my departure for New York in August – went splendidly.

Looking back, this is only one of thousands of examples of failed expectations.  Les attentes have ruined my evening, spoiled my lunch, and led to the échec of more of my relationships than I like to admit.  It is the moments at which they cease to exist, to infiltrate my perception of the present, that I am the most content.  Which leads me back to le Nouvel An.

I really do not look forward to New Year’s Eve.  I have had more réveillons ratés than I can count – to the point that I expect the evening to be consistently subpar at best.  The pressure of being with the perfect people, in the perfect place, with the perfect mec à embrasser à minuit...to say the least, it’s a recipe for disaster.  And so this year, when the soirée that I was co-hosting was annulée – due to the blizzard in New York and subsequent cancelled flights – I was planning on staying home.

And yet, the holiday ressurected itself entirely.  A pleasant dinner at a friend’s house with some francophones and other quirky friends led to an impromptu houseparty in Williamsburg, which concluded with an empty taxi pulling up to the curb at the very moment my hand rose (in what I thought promised to be a vain attempt at taxi-hailing).  In short, the evening went off without a hitch – and while it was not la meilleure nuit de ma vie – it was a pretty damn fantastic friday night.

Which brings me to my new year’s resolution.  I’ve been telling people it is to apprendre l’italien and to join a singing group of some sort – both of which I intend to do.  Yet these goals will be easy to accomplish, in comparison with the resolution I’d like to persue most – the eradication of my extraneous expectations.  According to some random vegetarian newscaster, telling the ambiguous and unlimited public that she would no longer eat meat has helped her stay on track for 10 years.  And while I will eagerly continue to eat savory proteins – with the blessing of my anemic blood – I think that professing a true, important new year’s resolution in the public sphere is not the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard (specifically for a nouvelle, like myself).

…but expecting that the public will care enough to hold you to your resolution might be an overly-ambitious attente.

—vocabulaire—

le réveillon > new year’s eve

les résolutions de Nouvel An > New Year’s resolutions

perdre du poids > to lose weight

arrêter de fumer > to stop smoking

habitudes > habits

Personnellement > personnally

carême > Lent

le Nouvel An > the New Year

les buts > goals

l’année passée > the past year

janvier > january

j’ai attendu > I expected

mal du pays > homesickness

vélib > French public bike

pluie > rain

ciel gris > gray sky

espoir > hope

retour à > return to

échec > failure

perception > perception

réveillons ratés > failed New Year’s Eves

mec à embrasser à minuit > guy to kiss at midnight

soirée > party

annulée > cancelled

la meilleure nuit de ma vie > the best night of my life

apprendre l’italien > learn italian

nouvelle > a first-timer

Leave a comment

Filed under reality bites

verbiage : “perdre”

perdre (v.) : to lose

The past few weeks I haven’t been particularly dispo, with various visitors in and out of town, plus some problèmes techniques with my Internet.  So no, I haven’t perdu the desire to keep blogging.  But I did perdre my porte-monnaie.

Somewhere between buying baklava on Wednesday and heading to a private Black Friday tour of the NYSE – my argent, cartes de crédit, carte d’identité, carte du métro… tout had vanished.  And finding this out just before I was supposed to supply my photo ID to a security guard on Wall Street was not particularly good timing.

In Paris, I had an ami who seemed to lose his wallet every other week.  He replaced his annual Passe Navigo on several occasions, and got so used to losing his carte d’identité that he even replaced it one time when absolutely unnecessary (his wallet was just in a pile in his messy room).  But in a city, losing things – ça craint – because we assume the worst of people.  (and I mean, who is going to return a stranger’s wallet when your best friend garde toujours your favorite tee-shirt?)

Well in fact, the Upper West Side (je devine the sculpture garden next to Saint John the Divine) is apparently a great place to lose a wallet.  Or while meandering around the half-inflated balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  Because somewhere in between the two, my wallet hit the trottoir – and I’m totally reconnaissante à the lovely femme who found it – and decided to return tout in tact.  Metro card, ID, even la monnaie.  –Alors, qui dit que des newyorkais sont mechants?–

The question of guilt and le vol is… well, étrange.  As an undergrad – I could have left my computer in a cafeteria for 3 days and it would not be stolen.  But mon écharpe abandonnée would have been snatched by the next fille to walk by.  And I’ve seen the same rules seemingly apply in cities.  (Actually, j’ai perdu my favorite scarf -that I got on sale at Zadig & Voltaire- in a vélib basket last spring…so I know a thing or two about scarf snatchers…)  It’s funny our ideas about that which is irremplaçable (…cuz believe me, I’ve searched high and low for that Z&V scarf, and it cannot be re-purchased, even at full price…).

Au fait, I learned an unexpected lesson of a kleptomane nature when a friend came to visit earlier this month.

While I’ve never stolen a wallet or any sort of argent – I have occasionally re-gifted seemingly abandoned material goods.  And by re-gift, I mean giving a cadeau to myself.  It probably started with les bijoux de ma mère – rummaging through her less-loved baubles…the kind of thing where it would be two years before she realized something was missing (my sister does the same thing with mes frings, so perhaps it’s a family tendance).  And j’imagine que my desire for anonymous hand-me-downs grew with all the time I spent in vintage shops in high school.  But somewhere along the way, people’s mysterious leftovers became my new favorite things.

A few weekends ago, a friend came to visit, and noticed my favorite faded, ripped casquette – which I’ve been running in for the past 4 years.  He recounted how he had acheté the exact same hat prior to attending our undergrad institution, but that he had perdu this hat quelque part freshman year.  Anyone who knows me knows that runs aside, I would never have worn a baseball hat often enough to fade and rip it to such perfection – it came to me that way.  Je l’ai trouvé…freshman year, dans la buanderie.  It sat unclaimed for a few weeks, so I assumed it was up for grabs.  Well, here was its owner – and a close friend to boot.

apparently they are selling the hat on ebay for 8 dollars. but mine is still superior in the wear n' tear department...

While his loss may not have been a Z&V scarf – it was equally irremplaçable.  That particular hat was and is no longer vendu at our school.  And its beat-up charm is definitely impayable.  So while I think there may be some sort of legal argument that would state the hat est à moi after nearly 5 years of ownership (to his measely 1 year) – I’m increasingly realizing how annoying losing something can (and can potentially) be.

So the moral of this story?  Merci, lady who found my wallet and did not make me wait in line at the NYC DMV (aie! l’horreur...) among other inconveniences.  And I’ll certainly reconsider any future – even seemingly innocent – kleptomania.  Though I still intend to garder ma casquette

—vocabulaire—

dispo > free, available (slang, short for “disponible”)

problèmes techniques > technical problems

perdu > lost

porte-monnaie > wallet

argent, cartes de crédit, carte d’identité, carte du métro… tout > money, credit cards, ID, metrocard…everything

ami > friend

Passe Navigo > annual metro pass

ça craint > that sucks

garde toujours > still holding onto

je devine > I guess, I suspect

trottoir > sidewalk

reconnaissante à > grateful to

femme > woman

la monnaie > change (coins)

Alors, qui dit que des newyorkais sont mechants? > So, who’s saying that New Yorkers are mean?

le vol > theft

étrange > strange

mon écharpe abandonnée > my abandoned scarf

fille > girl

j’ai perdu > I lost

vélib > Paris public bicycle

irremplaçable > irreplaceable

Au fait > By the way, Actually

kleptomane > kleptomaniac

argent > money

cadeau > gift

bijoux de ma mère > my mother’s jewelry

mes frings > my clothes (slang)

tendance > habit, tendency

j’imagine que > I imagine that

casquette > cap (baseball cap)

acheté > bought

quelque part > somewhere

Je l’ai trouvé > I found it

dans la buanderie > in the laundry room

vendu > sold

impayable > priceless

est à moi > is mine

Merci > Thank you

aie! l’horreur > oh! the horror

garder ma casquette > hang onto/keep my baseball cap

Leave a comment

Filed under verbiage