Tag Archives: Paris


One telling anecdote summarizes my last 24 hours of reentry into American culture:

I went grocery shopping at Sprouts. As a store ostensibly dedicated to fresh produce and healthy food, this was the closest supermarket experience I could get to my love affair with Parisian markets and epicurean neighborhood stores, I figured. There was even a shrink-wrapped, perfectly rectangular piece of Parmesan that professed itself “artisanal.” At the checkout, a store employee asked me if I wanted to sample a new product:

Cotton-candy-flavored grapes.

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Hot and Bothered – the Parisian Pulmonary Secret

My Powells Books guest blog continues, as does the French heat wave.


PowellsBooks.Blog – The Parisian Pulmonary Secret – Powell’s Books.

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Digging, the Runaways – Powell’s Blog, Day 2

In my second day of guest blogging for Powell’s Books, I write about my Parisian vinyl finds, why I wrote Queens of Noise, and Pussy Riot.

Support independent bookstores!

PowellsBooks.Blog – Digging, the Runaways – Powell’s Books.

via Digging, the Runaways – Powell’s Blog, Day 2.

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Under Paris – My Powell’s Blog

I’m guest blogging for the wonderful, amazing Portland bookstore Powell’s Books all this week. My first post is, mais oui, about Paris.


PowellsBooks.Blog – Under Paris – Powell’s Books.

via PowellsBooks.Blog – Under Paris – Powell’s Books.

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Bon Appetit

IMG_2977Across from our apartment in the 11th arrondissement is a flower shop. Every day the owner puts out little silver pots full of lavender, roses, thyme, etc, that light up and fragrance the street. About a dozen doors down is another florist. Around the corner lies a third. Within a half-block are two butcher shops, their shelves overflowing with everything from mussels to rabbits to prosciutto; two bakeries, from one of which I purchased the best eclair I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a few); two wine shops; an Irish specialty shop; an Italian specialty shop; and a cheese shop (which also sells the yogurts in little glass jars that I covet). And this is just a normal Parisian hood.

This is what I love most about this city where we are living for five weeks: Everywhere, you can buy fresh, artisanal food, of tP1000509he kind that you have to drive to once-a-week farmer’s markets to get a sampling of in the U.S. Those markets are here too; they are everywhere also, open a couple days a week, if not every day. They teem with items from all over this part of the world: cous cous, olives, fish, entrecote, samosa, brie, strawberries, giant artichokes, honey, etc. Plus a booth specializing in those striped French nautical shirts, another in soft leather goods, another in two-euro used clothing bins.

P1000632And again, of course, flowers. Pictured here is the bouquet I picked out yesterday. It took a good 15 minutes to get waited on. Do not expect efficient customer service in France. Every person is a tradesman, whether they sell flowers or Western Union delivery, and cannot be rushed. But your service experience will be worth the wait.

“Are these a gift?” asked the handsome, bearded vendor as he prepared to wrap my flowers. “Or are they for you?” An ordinary question, but the way he said it, with a coquettish smile, implied that I clearly deserved the flowers (as I did.)

IMG_2976“They are a gift for me,” I smiled back.

Picking out tender nectarines, the fruit seller asked where I was from. “California?! I was just there, in San Diego. I didn’t see you!” he joked. As he handed us our bags, he told my husband he was a very lucky man.

“Kiss her hand every morning,” he instructed Bud. Then he added with a smile: “You can do more, if you can.”IMG_2975

This is another thing I love about Paris: It really is a town full of amour. Couples lock lips, twist tongues, smush face, tickle tonsils, and just plain embrace with great passion and pride. There’s a reason they call it French kissing.

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The Boss in Paris

IMG_2963Last night at Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris, Bruce Springsteen played the clown. He mugged for tens of thousands of cheering fans like the consummate vaudevillian showman he has always been, alongside his more noted profiles as passionate protest singer and existential troubadour. He laid on top of his fans in the front row, nonchalantly accepting their embraces. He pretended to groom himself in front of his own Jumbotron image. He did the James Brown perform-until-you’re-in-a-mock-stupor-and-can’t-stop routine. And, fittingly for the setting, he led the audience in “oh-oh-oh” sing-alongs, reducing his sometimes tortured commentary on proletarian and small-town life to open-vowel soccer chants. Continue reading

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