September 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Familiar Faces, Less Familiar Names

Paris is getting smaller.  It’s getting the point where I start running into familiar faces.  Everywhere.  The problem with familiar faces is that the names that go with those faces aren’t always as memorable.
Everyone should have to wear one...with or without correct spelling...
I’ve encountered several uncomfortable situations lately where I’ve run into someone and I couldn’t remember their name.  Clearly, however, the other person went in for the bise and I knew that we must be close.  That was Fiona’s fried, right?  Or was it the person at Erica’s party?  Or was that Melanie’s classmate?  In any case, I fake it, ask how they are doing, and make it away without anyone being any wiser to my ignorance. 

The problem, sadly, is when I’m not alone and I meet someone.  The other day, on the rue du roi de Sicile, with my friend Genevieve, I saw a guy at a café that I knew.  He stood up from his table and flagged me down.  An introduction was imminent.

“Hi, ca va?” he asked.

“Heeey, oui et toi?” I responded.  When I draw out my hello like that, it’s a surefire indication that, indeed, I have forgotten your name.  Then there was that pivotal moment.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bakery Bouncer: Just Another Tick on the CV...

Totally bouncer material...

My new friend Madeleine told me that I was a very impressive videur.  I detected no sarcasm as I crossed my arms and puffed up my chest.  I supposed that I could have passed for a threatening videur, or bouncer, like in a club.  Well, if the club was for 11 year old girls…

During the Journée de la Patrimoine this past Sunday, my local baker asked me to help out since, for the first time, Du Pain et des Idées was opening its doors during the celebration to hold talks about their famous ceiling, a sort of landmark that rarely gets any attention during the week when delicious pastries and bread line the counters.  But this Sunday, with no pastries in site, the focus was all on the ceiling with a member from the local historical society giving presentations.

Snore, I know.  Instead of attending the talk, I, along with local mother and deliciously-named Parisian, Madeleine, stood at the door taking tickets and making sure that too many people did not enter the extremely popular talks about the bakery.   Imagine it, little old me and an equally unintimidating Frenchwoman acting as bakery bouncers.  Sweet deal, right?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Putting Meat on Them Bones...

There's the beef...
There’s no secret to my new diet.  All it requires is a trip to my local butcher in Belleville.  My new diet includes meat.  And lots of it.

I’m trying to regain the weight that three years of biking, tour guiding, and hiking my groceries up five flights of stairs has stolen from me.  I can hear the, “Oh shut up” coming from women across the English-speaking community, but let me explain.  I have always shied away from costly animal protein, treating myself sparingly to chicken or beef from the grocery store and opting for beans and eggs instead.  A student budget has an effect on a person, from the holes in his shoes, the frequency of shaving, and the size of his waist.  But now, instead of buying a new belt, I’ve decided to invest in chicken breasts, fresh and cheap from cleaver wielders in Belleville.

I was always intimidated by the butcher.  Engaging in a French activity beyond “Hello, please, and thank you” has always been daunting for me, but with three years under my ever-loosening belt, my confidence is at a peak.  Be it the tax collectors, professors, or butchers in blood-soaked aprons, I’m prepared to confront them.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cupcake Camp Paris 2011 is COMING

Our official poster...
I am proud to announce that we are hosting the second annual Cupcake Camp Paris on October 2nd, 2011 in the City of Light.  The event will take place at Le Comptoir Général in the 10th arrondissement, along the Canal St-Martin.

Now the question follows, what IS Cupcake Camp?  The childish little cakes have quickly become the new food trend over the past few years and Ariel Waldman decided to host an event a few years ago in California to celebrate the now-famous cupcake.  The event sparked Cupcake Camps around the world, from Bombay and London to New York and now Paris.  People get together to share recipes, hold contests, and enjoy the baking prowess of other cupcake fanatics. 

Along with Cat Beurnier, I helped launch Paris’s first Cupcake Camp July 4, 2010 and this year with Nicollete van der Doe we’re happy to bring the second edition to cupcake-hungry Parisians.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Embracing Student Life -- La Rentrée

Back to school shopping...
For many French students, the rentrée is upon us, the return from a month of sun-soaked beaches and exotic getaways.  Instead of suntan lotion and salt water, the nostalgia-inducing smell of freshly sharpened pencils and new erasers fills the air as school kids trade in their teenybopper magazines for textbooks and Victor Hugo.

Freakishly, my program at the Sorbonne doesn’t start until October, so I get another month of Tiger Beat, but I can still sense the back-to-school mayhem.  It’s a snap back into reality that, “Hey, Bryan, you’re a student, too.”  Gone is my summer of traipsing around Italy and picnicking in the Butte Chaumont.  Fortunately, the student life isn’t all bad in Paris.  I’ve realized that I’ve adopted a few habits that, at my age, can only be justified by having a student ID card.  Being a student can erase all sorts of sins – sins that I’m in no rush to have forgiven.

For example, only as a student can I justify drinking wine out of mugs and water out of old juice bottles.  Normal adults, at my age, with their jobs and incomes usually invest in wine glasses and water goblets.  I have some wine glasses, with the Ikea price stickers still attached.  I’m in no rush to use (read: break) them.  And water glasses in Paris are always so tiny, so I opt for the liter glass bottle that once contained orange juice.  Not only is it good for the environment to reuse it, but it’s keeping my kidney’s working fulltime.  Don’t get lazy on me, guys.