Jamie Oliver

My desktop is a mess, cluttered with posts that I started, but never got around to finishing. Like the one about Jamie Oliver, who personally doesn’t make me sick, but the camera work on his show definitely makes me quesy.

A lot of times a thought will hit me when I’m out and about, then I’ll race home and start writing, only never to go back and follow up and finish the post.

Anyhow, these are some posts that I started and never got around to finishing up. But I have so many new things that I want to write about, it was time to let these go. So here’s a look at what could’ve been, but never was, and never will be…

How To Look Parisian

paris crosswalk

I found a wallet on the street, and was with my partner, who’s Parisian. Opening it up, there was a school ID so we stopped in the nearby school to return it to the front desk. He did all of the talking, I stood by not making a sound.

When it was time to leave, she looked at me, and said…in English, “And thank you very much, too.”

I hadn’t said anything. I wasn’t wearing my fanny pack or puffy white sneakers. Heck, I wasn’t even smiling. Yet somehow she knew.

(Ed: Then, for some reason, I went off on this tangent. Don’t know what I was thinking…maybe I’d just had a bad encounter elsewhere that day?-dl)

The most important thing to remember is this:

Whenever you approach someone, realize that you’re bothering them.

Whenever someone approaches you, act like they’re bothering you.

It’s a fine line and there’s a little dance you do in shops when you need assistance. First, you have to bother them, so they have to act bothered back.

Then if they ask you a follow-up question, you need to act bothered back. Most of the time, even more so than they looked when you bothered them. You don’t want them to think you’re more important than they are, do you?

So then they think that you being bothered by them is more important than them being bothered by you.

Got that?

(I have no idea where this one was going, but was found it amusing that in spite of the fact I rarely wear sneakers, and try not to smile, I get pegged as an American without even moving a muscle. Then I kind of segued into a thing about Parisians that I never got back to and even confused myself by the end.

I also like the crosswalk signs, showing a notoriously impatient Parisian with his hands on his hips, waiting indignantly to cross the street. That sign says so much, and I wanted to share a photo of it with a story. But I guess I’ll just have to let the sign speak for itself. -dl)

3 Sure-Fire Ways to Avoid Going Postal in Paris


1. Use the machine

2. Check the busy times

(I couldn’t figure out a third one. But believe it or not, La Poste is pretty good. They have electronic machines, in several languages, for buying stamps, and outside, there’s a chart at each post office listing their busy and not-so-busy times. I just liked the title of this. I was also afraid if I started taking photos around the post office, I might get in trouble. -dl)

French Salads

Cafe Salad

I’ve been trying to figure out who you have to blow around here to get a decent salad?

I ordered the “house” salad, which the blackboard said was composed of five ingredients: lettuce, green beans, ham, melon, and dressing. When I dragged my fork through it, I noticed it was missing both the green beans and the dressing. How on earth does one forget to put 2/5ths of the ingredients on a salad? I can see missing one. But 2 out of 5 of them?

Last week I had a salad at some fancy name café. When it came out, it was riddled with canned potatoes that were sliced. Honestly, is it really that much easier, or cheaper, to open a can than to dump a bag of little potatoes in a baking pan, drizzle them with olive oil and salt, then bake them

(I was, and am, frustrated by the lousy salads in Paris. Sure you can get good ones, but most likely, one shouldn’t expect lots of fresh vegetables or even housemade dressing. Most often it comes from a bottle. I was on a rant after I had a salad that I couldn’t even finish, that cost almost 17€ and had canned potatoes on it. For that kind of money, you’d think they’d use real taters. Wouldn’t you? I also thought of that phrase I used in the first sentence since I cooked with a woman, named Mary Brown, who had the demeanor of a librarian, but came out with that phrase once about something, the rest of us in the kitchen practically dropped our knifes, and jaws, when it came out of her mouth. -dl)

Om

For Anglophones, one of the more frustrating things about learning French is half- to one-third of the end of the word isn’t pronounced. No one quite seems to be able to explain it to me, since why put something there that’s unnecessary in the first place? But I’ve been told that a couple of centuries ago, in the past, people did indeed pronounce the entire word. Maybe since Parisians are always in a hurry—except when they’re in front of you in line—they just at some point collectively decided to drop the end off of words. Either that, or they did it right before I arrived a couple of years back to mess me up.

To make matters plus complique, sometimes you do pronounce the end of the word, although if you’re looking for a hard-and-fast rule, you can forget it because it doesn’t exist. For instance, ‘Paris’ is pronounced ‘pare-ree’, but the name ‘Régis’ is pronounced ‘Ray-jeese’.

For those of you who practice yoga, often the word ‘om’ is chanted. Although there are a lot of various definitions about the meaning of ‘om’, what I remember most from a teacher in San Francisco is that the final ‘m’ is the sound of compassion and…

(Hoo-boy. Trying to translate Sanskrit it bad enough. Combining it was an analysis of the French is another story altogether. (My mind does indeed work in mysterious ways.) I was told the “M” in OM is compassion and since the French often don’t pronounce the last part of words, maybe they lack compassion. I dunno, but it was a road I wasn’t sure how to go down. So I detoured. -dl)

Rosemary Cornmeal Sables with fleur de sel

French people don’t use cornmeal much in baking like Americans do. You will find breads labeled pain de maiz, but they’re nothing like good old American cornbread.

These simple sables are shortbread cookies, which get their name from the word ‘sandy’ or sable. Little bits of fleur de sel enliven them
Because the recipes in this book were getting awfully chocolate-centric, I thought I’d add a cookie that I love, which was inspired by the Rosemary Shortbread cookies in my second book, Ripe For Dessert.

(I loved the idea of cornmeal, salt, and rosemary in a buttery cookie. But somehow the idea and the reality never made it onto the site. Someday maybe I’ll come back to them. Or not.-dl)

Jamie Oliver Makes Me Sick

For some reason, I’m now getting Cuisine TV on my cable line-up. I don’t know if it’s a teaser, and how long it’s going to last, but I’m getting a chance to watch some of the food television that people are always talking about.

There’s Top Chef, dubbed in French (!) and Jamie Oliver. I remember before he was famous, I was at a terrific cookbook-only store in Los Angeles and they showed me this book that was full of great, ‘normal looking’ food; things I’d want to eat.

So I’ve been watching his program, dubbed in French, but the moving camera makes me sick. I can barely watch as he chops and slices, cracking an egg, the camera following his movements as he raps it on the counter, the swooping along as he plops it into the sizzling pan. The food looks delicious but after a few minutes, my stomach starts flipping and I can’t watch anymore.

(For a while, I was getting French food television as a free preview, which is now a 10€ a month option. Although I didn’t get it for free, the porn channel is another 10€ option. I’m still making up my mind which is a better deal.

People often ask me what I think of various food personalities and since I don’t have access to food television, I rarely see it. Jamie Oliver makes food that looks really good, and his recipes are great, but he runs around and the camera follows him like a madman, swooping up and down as he pours, chopping and moving around. After a few minutes, I can’t look at the screen anymore. Can anyone sit through an episode without the aid of a Dramamine?-dl)

Ok, that’s it. Thanks for indulging me and letting me clean off my desktop. That feels better. Now if I could only tackle my freezer. Or my closet. Or the bakeware cabinet. But I’ll spare you the details of those.

Have a great weekend!

Categories:

Whining

50 comments

  • Well David, I can understand that the pronunciation of French can be frustrating at times but as a French person I would argue that English is much worse! What about Birmingham (pronounced the British way), Leicester, fraught, draught, drought, though, through, thought, woman / women, and don’t even get me started on row which can as you know be pronounced in two different ways depending on meaning! There, I feel better after this little rant! Keep up the good work!

  • David, you should watch Jamie’s programme dubbed in Japanese – it’s hilarious! hope you are well, kxx

  • Salut Françcoise: What’s funny is that my French friends say it’s easier for them to understand Brits than Americans. But don’t worry: none of us can pronounce “worcestershire” either!

    PS: Yes, je suis d’accord on “row”…but what about “ver, vers, ou verre”? : )

  • Om, indeed! A little mindful breathing comes in handy when dealing with Parisian shopkeepers, learning le subjonctif, and trying to be understood in French. And the salads, well, I once received a haricots verts salad that clearly contained two batches of beans, one of which should have long been pitched. WTF??

    Thanks for giving the light of day to these unfinished (and hilarious) posts!

  • I can’t watch any of those BBC shows. Nigella, What Not to Wear, Jamie Oliver, et al. I don’t know why they all feel compelled to be out of focus half the time, and jumping around the other half!

    As for the porn channels, we have one on free preview right now, and let me say, it has got to be the most boring porn I’ve ever seen! I’d spend my money on the food channel.

  • Dear David,

    I would love to have the cornmeal sable recipe.

  • The salad thing is so true. They never seem to be light enough, either. I once ordered a green salad as an antidote to all the very rich, cream laden food I’d been unable to get away from somewhere in the Perigord, and it came drenched in a dressing which was almost 100% walnut oil. I love walnut oil, but at that point just felt sick.

    The other thing that always confounds me is the French and Belgian love of canned peas and carrots. They seem to crop up in the most unlikely places. Why?

  • Whenever I need to approach anyone for help or information, I *always* start out with “Je suis desole de vous deranger. .”

    Works out pretty well.

  • Oh David. Thank you for this post. I’ve been laughing ever since looking at the shot of the pedestrian crossing lights. Trying imitating the walk shown in the green light. I once did in Paris 21 years ago. (I wasn’t alone in doing this at the time)
    Huggles to you

  • expat: I need that tattooed on my forearm! Actually, I asked my partner about saying that once and he looked like me like I was nuts to even consider it.

    Katie: So would I!

    anothercatherine: Don’t forget the canned corn, too.

    I don’t know why on earth anyone would use canned potatoes. Is it really that hard, or so much more expensive, to roast off a tray of small potatoes with olive oil and some herbs in the morning and use them on salads?

  • “… since Parisians are always in a hurry..except when they’re in front of you in line…”

    Oh man! if i had a dollar for every time my Dad said the same thing when we lived in France, i’d be rich enough to lounge around a caribbean island with a cabana boy in hot pants to bring me cold drinks. for ever.

  • David: I dated a french guy for some time and it occurs to me that after a while in a relationship, you become ni americain ni francais. So when I asked the same question about Excusez-moi, je ne veux pas vous deranger, mais j’ai un problem… he said Parisians would find that stilted and odd. And yet, when one of our friends, who spoke tourist guide book French, pointed out that phrase to him in a book and asked about it, he said it was a very important phrase to learn.

    As for our American aura, it drove me crazy in Paris when we’d go out and waiters would speak to him in French and me in English, although I hadn’t said a word.

  • David:
    You indeed are hilarious and a wonderful way to end (and start) the week..
    Perhaps the French should adopt that “notoriously impatient Parisian with his hands on his hips” for their national flag or at least something to warn visitors at customs.
    I’ve been attempting to brush up my Italian and French through home study and of course the language lessons on CD sound nothing like real life conversation. At least now I’ll know why.
    Cheers, David, thanks for the laughs and great recipes.

  • i love your rants.

    and all of a sudden, some pan roasted potatoes sound so good. i can’t figure why….

  • terrific post, love the walk/don’t walk sign, that is perfect! and yes, last time i was in paris i was vegetarian and met many a lamentable “salad”. i never understood it with all the fresh produce everywhere in the markets!

  • I’ve found the “excusez moi…” construction is highly wonderful. It works like magic in provincial towns, and about half the time in Paris proper. It might be odd for your partner, but perhaps they accept it from you (and me) because they can smell the foreign-ness on us?

    As for the American arua… I suspect it happens more often with men although I can’t explain why. My husband and brother-in-law are always, always greeted in English, whereas my sister and I (who are obviously not svelte parisiennes) are given a fighting chance about 2/3 of the time. It may very well be that we ladies are just as easily recognized, but less willingly coddled. Or perhaps experience tells them that more American women speak en peu de francais than their husbands do?

  • And once again you remind me why I love you so.

  • Great post! Once, when I was in France, I ordered a nicoise salad and they dumped canned corn into it!

  • If you really want to pay cable opt for food-porn as Nigella invented it ;-)
    Bon week-end!

  • And what about their, there and they’re… Somehow I would have thought that French grammar and the gender of words would have been more of a pain than the spelling…

    I’m not so sure that the canned corn is a purely French thing. I live in the UK and the canteen at my old job would put corn into pretty much everything including chilli con carne. I could not swear to this but I think they even used for lasagne!

  • David,
    Love this post, you are so hilarious!
    About Jamie O- I am happy that finnaly someone like you post it on your web site. Hopefully the camera man or the producer read it! I stop watching his program long time ago for the same reason. That’s a pity! I think he quite fun to watch.
    Well, I always looking forward for your next post!

  • Wonderful, formidable, excellent, David!

    Parisians can spot Americans (not just American tourists) a mile away, just by their stance and their attire — though I’m sure you were totally decked out a la Francanse, David!

    I’m struggling with understanding and explaining this as I write a book about it with a French friend.

    I was once strolling though Le Bon Marche totally dressed in clothing purchased in France, and the saleslady addressed me in English before I said a word. I responded in rapid-fire French, and she just said (in French) “Oh, pardonnez-moi — you just looked sooo — American.”

    There’s a lot more than language that gets us pegged as non-French! Stay tuned.

    Thanks for a hilarious and, as ever, eye-opening post.

  • This is a great post. I laughed aloud at the description of your English-speaking schoolmarm story. Puffy white gym shoes! Ha. I have just returned from Rome and I must tell you that two times during the coming and going of this trip, I met foodies who “knew” you. One was sitting at O’Hare waiting for my flight with a woman from Austin, Texas and we began talking food and Central Market and one thing led to another and your name came up…”do you read his blog”? etc! Then I did a culinary tour in Rome and met up with a guy who is into food as well and, again, do you read David Lebovitz’ blog? Oh – the woman from Austin took a class from you and said (I quote) “he is hilarious”.

    Just thought I’d share. You’re famous. Kinda.

  • Have never been to Paris, but do have a friend who goes regularly. She speaks no French, but her husband does. She wears big tennis shoes, jeans, t-shirts with sayings on them, Northface gear–the works. Her husband very carefully spurns American-style clothes. Of course she is often addressed in French, while he is usually addressed in English.

  • Francoise makes a good point. But I can recall asking whether the “s” at the end of placenames such as Cornas and Vacqueyras should be pronounced and being told that either way is correct. Then I put this new knowledge to use and whichever way I said it, I would be corrected!

    In Paris French people come up to me a LOT and ask for directions. I used to think I had absolutely perfected my pronunciation of “Je suis pas du coin,” but the “Je” is barely out of my mouth before disappointment registers on their faces as they can clearly hear that I am foreign.

    I got a good laugh out of your former colleague’s exclamation of frustration.

  • How odd–I’m often taken for a native, and I don’t dress up particularly and don’t speak French, at least not more than the basics. But locals (probably really French who don’t live in Paris) and tourist ask me for directions or change. Maybe I look like I’m being bothered.

    But my preppie husband is frequently mistaken as Spanish or Milanese. Who can say?

  • Italian is so much easier to learn than French–every letter is pronounced as a general rule. And, in contrast, the Italians are so gratifyingly amazed and grateful when an American makes any lame attempt to speak a few words of Italian. If they laugh, it does seem that they are laughing with you not at you. The fractured English that comes back is funny but nice, too.

  • I think the tell-telling sign of an American are big teeth. The big chompers (choppers?) are very very American. The smiling and the white sneakders just confirm what people think when they see your big chompers.

    Aneta

  • Hi David! First time commenter, long time reader. ;)
    Anyway, I loved this post (all others too, though)! I finish reading your posts with a feeling of great envy for your wonderful Parisian life, but this brings to light the other not so great but still amusing aspects of Parisian life.
    But alas, I’m still in love with Paris and hoping to study there next spring! Just have to work on that difficile French now.. ahhh!

  • I’m a bi-lingual Canadian, and I have always found it funny that it isn’t the French, or even the British who comment about my accent. It’s generally Americans from states that share a border with Canada.

  • Interesting, I am almost never identified as American. The first time I was in Paris as a tourist years ago and before I spoke French, everyone tried to speak to me in German. Now that I am living here and speaking the language (somewhat), everyone one asks if I am British.

  • This is good!

  • The dearth of salads in Paris really bugged me, too, when I went last June. I found myself searching out Italian restaurants because heavy, creamy food simply wasn’t what I wanted in 80-degree weather. It is SO hard to mess up a salad – why can’t they just do it? It seems like they put a bunch of disgusting crap in (canned potatoes? why do those even exist?) and/or top it with disgustingly creamy (and/or bottled) dressing. Why, oh WHY?

  • Food channel or porn channel? Tricky choice, isn’t it? hahahah

    Jamie’s show? Camera moves, humm.. I guess Jamie’s Twist? The Italian show and Jamie at Home (the new one) are more slow-calm, I think.

    Dramamine? Oh, boy! If I take it, I gonna sleep in minutes, heheheh.

    Vitor Hugo
    http://english.pratofundo.com/ (English)
    http://pratofundo.com/ (Portuguese)

  • Oh David, you need to spend more time down here in the south where the people are friendly and normally helpful, and the salads are huge and fresh to combat the summer heat.

  • As a parisian, when I want a good salad (apart from home !) I go to american-style restaurants – There are quite a lot of them in the trendy districts – Avoid salads in most of the “cafes” : you’ll be disappointed – instead, try one of those new “snack-bars” such as Cojean, Exki, Bert’s, Lina’s .. Generally good choice, freshness and organic ingredients
    A last word : french traditional food is not something you can eat every day and stay thin, It’s a legend !

  • So funny that you can’t find a decent Parisian salad…the Best Salad I Ever Had was in Paris. Crazy, eh? I have spent years trying to create a recipe close to the chevre chaud I had one night. Sigh.

    Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets sick watching Jamie Oliver’s show. I liked his old one, so I was thrilled for the new one, but found I got nauseated and had a headache after 5 minutes in. (And I never get motion sick – I can read in a car no problem!). I’m surprised they keep making the shows like that. Maybe all the young kids these days are impervious to those camera angles. Bourne Identity was similar, but instead of feeling nauseated, I just felt confused.

    And I second the request for the cornmeal sables. The melt-in-your-mouth cornmeal cookies that I had once and can not remember where still linger in my taste memory.

  • Ha Isabelle: That’s pretty funny, that you go to American-style places for salads. I do from time-to-time crave a good salade de chevre chaud, or something like that, although you’re right-they’re not exactly good for le régime!

  • I avoid eating salads outside my home because there’s almost always something I don’t like about it. At home you can choose your vegetables and dressing, etc. :)

  • What a great rant. Adored the sign for crossing the walk – full of indignation, without apologies. The fact that you were pegged as American is quite fascinating, considering you gave none of the usual signs – wish you would’ve asked her! My heritage is French – and when I was in Spain, everyone thought I was French. I wonder what they’d think in France?

  • No kidding the salads suck. The worst is that brown lettuce. Or the salad with rognon.
    I haven’t been in this city long but have noticed the botheredness, great description. The other thing that I’ve noticed is the way people run/ramm into you on the sidewalk. I don’t think it has anything to do with being in a rush. Even Lucien Freud talked about it in an interview.

  • Thought you’d get a kick out of this one: I’m no Sanskrit expert but I was taught the silence following OM actually is the last syllable… Go figure.

  • david said : “but what about “ver, vers, ou verre”? : )”
    And what about “vair, vert ou vers (the other one)” ? :D

    About salads, i tend to think that this the same thing than coffee in average restaurants here : they think this is where they can earn a lot of money and people don’t usually care about quality, so why not ruin it if it’s cheaper that way.

    Even in a dedicated-to-salads restaurant that opened in my town lately, it seemed fancy, nice large plates for salads… And my tuna and goat cheese salad arrived made with OIL canned tuna EN MIETTES, and ugly cuts of those little round sticks of cheap supermarket goat cheese en bûche. Really disappointing.

  • Well David, I feel that way too when I’m watching Jamie Oliver! they have to change their style of covering the shots, watching it for a while gets very dizzy.

  • Oh, David, why am I only just meeting you? I JUST returned from my first visit to Paris and I swore it would be my last. Between the dog poop and the surly attitudes, I said “Never again”, despite Versailles (I KNOW that’s not technically Paris!) and the marvelous food. You have changed my mind, however.

    This post is hilarious and if I had read it 5 weeks ago, I would have enjoyed Paris much more and not waited 45 minutes in line in a Post Office!! I am saving my pennies to take your chocolate tour. Hopefully, the dollar will rebound a bit and my next visit to Paris will be much more enjoyable, thanks to you.

    By the way, today I bought “The Perfect Scoop” and tomorrow I am going back to Borders to buy your other books. You are my new hero.

  • Great post David. And I agree with one of the other comments…it is the huge gleaming straight white teeth we Americans (generally) have. Blame the state of our recognition in foreign lands on fluoride, orthodontia, and great dental work!

  • Oh, no. Well, that puts the kibosh on my giving his show a try… because welcome to my world!
    Everything makes me motion-sick: That roller coaster-esque thing that movie theatres play before the movie starts. Taking curves too fast in a car. Reading in a moving anything (that’s a really sore point, as it includes not just books, but also too many road or landmark signs). 3D video games (the sorest point of all)!

    I can’t even watch someone play Halo. 5 minutes and I’m about sick :(

  • dl, I love the traffic man too! We were envious of your chic traffic signs, well at least envious of the walk/don’t walk fellow. I love the picture. Thanks.
    v

  • And while we’re on the salad subject what is up with that yellow salad dressing that gets used at every single bistro/cafe in Paris? And that lettuce too. Uggggh. Isabelle, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I love throwing down the ‘bothered’ vibe while shopping. It’s a great stress reliever and keeps the experience lively.

  • David, your first rant made me laugh. My husband and I lived in Paris in the early 90s. Something we read (I think in French or Foe?) stayed with us:

    While at a French party, if an American bumps into a tall vase and knocks it over, breaking glass and spilling water everywhere, s/he’ll apologize to the hostess and say, “Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry! How could I have been so careless?”

    A French person will sneer at the hostess and say, “Who so thoughtlessly left a vase there?”