It’s sort of a given when you’re gay that most of what you see is not. Gay, I mean. Obviously most of the world isn’t gay. And also obviously things are a lot better now than they have ever been but I still cannot imagine if 2 men were doing what these 2 people were doing throughout our/their entire meal people would be fine with it. Kissing, rubbing, sucking each other’s tongues and fingers, gag me. I was facing their table. They weren’t drunk. In fact, they weren’t even drinking. Good Jesus. Get a room. It was nauseating.

Nice to ruin a good meal.

Oh Bordeaux

Such a fabulous place. As I understand it the architecture of Paris is based on the architecture of Bordeaux. And you can see it. In fact the whole place is stunningly beautiful and looks more like Paris than Paris does. And it does not have the billions of scooters, insanely crowded sidewalks and the hyper-commercialism of Paris. So gorgeous.

Le vaccin c’est ma bite

It had seemed to me that all of France was pretty sanguine about the vaccine and wearing of masks. Of course, I am not seeing French news which might be a clue as to the mood in France about such things, but no one seems to have to be aggressively forced to put on a mask before they enter into ANY venue at all (you must wear a mask in every store no matter it’s size).

And you cannot go into any restaurant or museum without a health QR code which you get when you get the vaccination. Restaurants are fierce about proving you’ve had it. You are stopped at every single door. I could not get even near the train to Bordeaux without showing my French QR code (insert tooth sucking noise) to get onto the platform.

Imagine my surprise in Bordeaux when I saw this imbecile’s car. Of course the spoiler on the back of this expensive Mercedes was sort of a clue to the workings of this guy’s mind, and we know it’s a guy because this literally means “The vaccine is my cock.” The side says, “Without mask, without hood.” In this case “capote” means condom. I hope to god he’s not breeding.

Resistance indeed, Mr Tough Guy.

It’s been six years

I wrote about this place 6 years ago. Le Petit Marcel. And place, like a million other places in Paris, is all about French food. The food is good but that’s mostly a given in Paris. If food isn’t good, the place most likely won’t be around long. But we weren’t there for the food, we were there for the waiter. (I was trying not to let him know we were taking his picture—he’s in the corner there). A#1 world’s best waiter.

We’re going back before we leave.

The food was good but, really, you can’t miss with oeufs mayonnaise. My nephew might disagree with that but the stuffed pimientos were exquisite.

From the archives

I bumped into this email I sent in 2010 when I was last in my now-gone apartment in Hyéres, France and made a trip to Italy.

My toilet is the shower or else my shower’s in the toilet. I’m not sure which. It is very messy. One needs to put one’s towels somewhere where they can’t get wet or one will be drying off with wet towels, I’ve discovered. And what’s with these towels in Italy? They are like table clothes. And so is my blanket. Do you think this is something I can blame on the pope?

I drove to Italy yesterday from my apartment in France, the 2 hours in France was a leisurely trip along the Mediterranean and then the second you get into Italy everyone is driving 180 miles an hour and zooming around you like hornets. I was driving a mind-numbingly fast (to me) 150 Km and I had Smartcars, which are literally just half of a real car with teeny wheels, buzzing around me like I was standing still. Four hours of death-grip-on-my-steering-wheel later I arrived in Lucca and painfully slowly progressed through what would seem to be completely impassible alleys in a warren of tiny passages to get to my hotel. The good news is that the Italians are not like the French. They are all perfectly friendly, broken Italian? No problem we can talk half French, half English, half Yiddish . . . we’ll get through it!! Sooooooo not French.

So far the best thing is I’ve seen is the uncorrupted remains of St Zita. Except that they look pretty corrupted to me. I mean, if she were walking around like that people would be REALLY concerned. She’s a saint because she’s a virgin is all I could find out. This leaves pretty much everyone I know out of the running, in this category anyway. And why, do you suppose, are there no men who are just saints because they are virgins?

I’m so Frenchy

In the European Union in order to enter most public places one must have a vaccination verification QR code. Every vaccinated person has one and mostly they have them on their phones so they can be scanned. Every restaurant and museum requires it and take it quite seriously, sort like they do in Alabama or rural Wisconsin. While they have been very forgiving of my stupid American little paper, I know what they’re thinking. Perdant.

I’d applied for a French QR code online some time ago and got it yesterday. I was able to use it today for the first time. You could hear me sucking my teeth in the 16th.

And in case you’re worried that I’m showing something that could be copied, or, in fact, planning to copy this yourself—you know who you are—it’s totally not my real one.

The real reason I came to Paris

There. Is. Just. Nothing that compares to this. Keep your croissants.

We bought the baguette and butter at the farmer’s market near our apartment. The butter was sliced off of a huge slab brought to the market from what I imagine is an adorable stone cottage somewhere just outside Paris where women wear those stiff tall white lace hats, lace-trimmed aprons over tight black dresses with white buttons, and those clunky wooden shoes.

OK, they may not be all that comfortable but it makes the butter taste better.

Beer at lunch

It turns out I can drink at lunch even if there is no where for me to immediately lie down and sleep.

After a 3 hour slog around Paris we ducked into Ladurée after a quick look at the newly wrapped Arc de Triomphe (à la Christo, in some sort of homage type deal—apparently the French cannot think of other more productive things to do with their money—at least I can say I saw it, so, you know . . . score). I was more interested in where and what we were doing vis à vis lunch. Ladurée is a favorite spot, it was near and since we were killing time between our Parisienne domiciles. . . .

We moved out of our hotel at 9 am but unable to access our AirB&B until 4pm. In retrospect, a 7 hour lag time between squats is not exactly optimal following a grueling few days of travel that followed a grueling few days of worrying about travel.

Ladurée did not disappoint. I had some sort of avocado toast contraption and he had an asian chicken sandwich. But the real point was that I had a beer (in a super cool aluminum bottle) and I did not fall immediately asleep which is usually what happens if I drink at lunch. Of course I could have just laid down on a bench and pretended to be a Parisian (a down and out Parisian, but a Parisian nonetheless) instead we trudged all over hell and back logging an astonishing 14 miles, arriving with some difficulty at our new abode around 4:30. Just in time for that nap.

A long time in the coming, a longer time in the making, it has come to pass—Paris

A few weeks ago my sister Ann and her husband left for Italy sending me some desperate messages about the brutalities, demands, irregularities, inanities and misinformation that surrounded their 3+ hour experience at O’Hare. They did make their flight but not without any number of anxiety-provoking indignities. Then my friend Karen left for Italy, receiving an email in the middle of the night that she needed a specific kind of visa to enter the country and spent 4 hours in the early morning online to resolve the issue.

See for these people this is off putting, slightly unbalancing, disturbing. and frightening. I know this feeling. i embody it. This is how I experience all travel so as my date of departure loomed, I arose ANXIOUSLY everyday checking each and every email Air France was sending every 40 minutes with revised updates to updates. In the end, as I understood it (I MADE EXCEL SPREAD SHEETS, for chrissake) I’d need my passport, of course, my ticket, naturally, a signed and sworn statement that I did not have covid, proof of my covid vaccination status and a covid test within 12 minutes of departure—but the test would have to be an AFrBi39H1hn, or a M17yyu89kl or Fd23 antigen test if administered on a Tuesday or Thursday in months beginning with the letter R. The day before departure I received an email telling me I would need to arrive at 3pm for an 8 pm flight!!!!!!!!! I remained calm. Or rather as calm as I can remain. My driver could not come sooner so I would be arriving well after (and hour and a half after the recommended 3 pm arrival date.) I breezed into terminal 4:30 pretending a calm I did not feel.

Not. A. Soul. In. Front. Of. Me. No one. The clerk had to have a large man lift my luggage (I am so sorry about that) onto the conveyor belt since it was as tall as she was and weighed more the I did. She took the vast supply of documentation, approximately a small forest worth of paper and then pushed it back at me with only the mildest look of annoyance. “We don’t need this stuff.” she smiled sweetly. “Oh,” I said just as sweetly, “your 65,000 emails tell a different story,” hissing through my teeth. “Oh, hahahaha. You’re ready to go Mr Dillon.” And that was that. It was 4:30, I’d survived the one and a half hour anxious sprint down there only to now spend 3 and a half hours waiting (the security line didn’t take 2 minutes—go figure). It was fine. The flight was fine. We landed early. The taxi ride was lovely, the hotel had my reservations.

And then this. Oh joy oh rapture. Paris.

The balcony at Printemps shortly before the baby started crying

Be sure to listen to her sweetness and my fine French accent.

Main course tomato tart

Usually I make a tomato tart as an appetizer or side. But for this particular meal I souped it up enough to become the main event. I didn’t really add much more sustenance, just prettied it up and doubled down on flavor. Of course, I used my sour cream crust but I toned down the mustard with mayonnaise which ends up being creamier and I added caramelized onions to that base. I cut the tomatoes (mostly yellow) very thickly and dehydrated them in my oven for a few hours. And I added extra Gruyere.

I love these big greek olives so much so that I make special trips out to the “European” grocery store (check them out) for them. The store also has awesome greek feta, not that I used it here. I threw on little bits of artichoke hearts for design, not really adding much in the flavor department. I decorated with capers, and roasted red and yellow peppers which added a decent punch.

Even after the dehydration the tomatoes gave off loads of liquid that I self-consciously blotted before my guests caught a glimpse of it. It was beautiful and delicious.