Sunday, June 26, 2011

Oh, Rosedale

I've spent the last few days in semi-vacation (Parisian dorm staycation) pre-Heidelberg Eiskaffe-and-dissertation extravaganza, finishing up the last of the shampoo I don't want to schlep across Europe, and buying as many French books as I'm willing to haul around. English-language-wise, my two latest attempts at non-work reading - Coningsby (done, ugh) and now The House of Mirth, which I'm about midway through so no spoilers please - will both end up sneaking their way into the dissertation. I'm now accepting recommendations for novels in which none of the following topics come up: 19th C/fin-de-siècle Western Europe/U.S., Jews, intermarriage, marriage strategies of the Western upper classes.

Other recent observations:

-Le Boulanger des Invalides Jocteur continues to be the center of the culinary universe.

-What French poodle? Everyone here has a yorkie. If not a yorkie, a Jack Russel.

-Naniwa-Ya might be the best Japanese restaurant I've ever been to, but I'll allow that I was quite hungry by the time we got there, so it might merely be the place with the best (and saltiest, not unrelated) agedashi tofu I've ever tasted. It was at any rate remarkable in that, despite fresh and perfectly-flavored food, the prices were low, not merely by Japanese-restaurant standards, but also by Paris ones. (6 euros for a bowl of soba noodle soup, for example.) This, I figured, was because in Paris, at least on the rue Sainte-Anne, Japanese places can function a bit like Chinatown ones in NY - cheap ethnic food for diners who don't care about decor or mind being rushed out quickly.

-The rue des Rosiers, however, I do not understand. It's not really Paris's Jewish neighborhood these days (that would be in the 9th), and the falafel is kind of standard-issue European-town-big-enough-to-have-falafel. I just relearned this, but seriously, why the lines?

-The place to go for a cold coffee beverage is Le Pain Quotidien. Sorry, purists who don't go to Paris for that kind of Americana, but damn it's hot, and neither the public transportation nor the dorm room have a/c, anything resembling a fan, etc. If you get the regular iced coffee with milk (not the iced "crème"), what arrives (or did today, at least) is what would normally be called an iced cappuccino, the price no higher than that sort of thing is in NY, which is to say reasonable treat-price, which is to say I don't even want to think of what 3.20 or whatever is in dollars because it's depressing. Add a bunch of sugar and you're transported to Tel Aviv, or some more PC Mediterranean locale.

-Friggin' soldes. Why did these have to begin while I'm still here, not in July when I thought they would, and when I'm not especially looking to buy any clothing? I did, however, end up getting somewhat spectacular jeans from what's apparently a very upscale boutique, for 30 euros - Shine's rue Montmartre branch can't seem to get rid of 'em. They do have a certain quality-denim look that I pretend does not exist when the only such items go for $200, but will freely admit does when they fall into my acceptable price range for pants.


Britta said...

Oh, it's awful. I have been shopping at Banana Republic FOUR times in the past 3 weeks, and I don't particularly need clothes (though I am lecturing next year, so I tell myself I need professional clothes for that). Today I was with an out of town friend and I wasn't going to buy anything, but they were having an extra 40% off of stuff already on sale, and I ended up with 2 cardigans and a skirt. Then, I bought a $7 dress at H&M before she had to catch a train. Earlier in the month I got a $20 striped 3/4 boatneck shirt with buttons on the sleeve from J Crew, a $25 sweater and $30 shorts from BR, plus a black wool blazer that was originally $200 for $120 (also from BR), and $20 cute fake (but not too cheap-looking) leather sandals from Old Navy. Today I didn't even go in Zara's to check out their sales, and we had to rush out of H&M before I even made it off the first floor, so who knows what else I would have bought. (I also avoided the $2 tank sale at Old Navy, since I really don't need more cheap looking tank tops).

(Oh, PS, I tried on the 3" chino shorts at JCrew, and they are really cute. I might buy them when/if they go on sale again)

Anonymous said...

J'en ai marre du marais aussi, but I keep getting pulled back by an inexplicably huge crush on the least conventionally attractive waiter in l'as du falafel.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


Temptation is everywhere. But in Paris, the sales come twice a year, for a month each time. There are occasional discounts otherwise, but barely, making January and July the only times when the exchange rate ceases to make clothes fully out of reach. And I'm leaving, for good, in a couple days. I don't need more t-shirts from Petit Bateau, but if I want any before the next research trip that happens to be at the right time of year, and this could be a long time from now, it would have to happen now. But, meh. I'm mostly content throwing whatever spending money I have to pastry, coffee, and books, in that order. (Hey, no library equivalent exists for croissants.)


That place has waiters? Is this one of the guys yelling at passersby to get a falafel? If so, attractive or not, he's presumably outgoing.

Anonymous said...

Novel recommend:

Blue, by Lou Aronica. Simply stunning (and this from someone who generally dislikes contemporary fiction).

Perhaps a bit more heart-wrenching for a father of a daughter, but an excellent read for anyone, I should think.

PG said...

The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga. Not even set in the West.

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. I was shocked by how good it was, because I didn't admire her prior much-praised novel "Housekeeping."

Digging to America, by Anne Tyler.

Not a novel, but Henry Louis Gates's "Thirteen Ways of Seeing a Black Man" still pleased me when I re-read it 13 years after publication.

rshams said...

Anything by Jhumpa Lahiri! Really beautifully written and well-observed fiction, mainly depicting upwardly mobile S. Asian Americans.

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, about different employees at a dying English-language newspaper in Italy.

Anonymous said...

"Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett. And her new novel "State of Wonder" has gotten good reviews. JM

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Thanks, all, for the book recommendations. It'll have to wait till a return to the land of English-language books, in August, but it'll happen!