I’ve gotta say, I’ve taken a few dings for not presenting only the best parts of life in a foreign city. People may, or may not, want to hear about dealing with cranky cashiers, rigid administrators, or worse, paper-thin bath towels, instead wanting a perfect story of life in an apartment with a balcony, and watching sunsets every night over chilled glasses of Champagne, toasting yet another day in paradise. Invariably, however, almost all those “love letter-style” books end with the author moving back home in the final chapter or epilogue. And I always wish I’d hear the real story about why they stayed, or why they left.
Results tagged plum from David Lebovitz
Like New Yorkers, Parisians swear they would never live anywhere else. But once the summer – or the weekend – rolls around, everyone can’t wait to make a sortie toward the nearest exit.
After fighting the usual traffic to get out of the périphérique, we took an exit and were shortly in the countryside, where the skies are big and clear, you’re surround by wheat fields and rows of sugar beets, and you can feel yourself unwinding as soon as you roll down your window and catch a whiff of the fresh air.
We wanted to extract every last bit from summer, before the fall weather kicked in. And figured it was our last chance to put on casual garb, sit around while watching the leaves getting ready to drop, and to catch up on some reading. And, of course, eat.
The French have a lot of protests and manifestations. Some of the issues they march for are a bit of a reach and we roll our eyes. And it’s annoying when the trains and other forms of transport go on strike and you need to get somewhere. But on the other hand, it’s good that they feel strongly about certain issues, enough to hit the streets. So yesterday there was a mouvement social in my neighborhood. But the one yesterday was an issue I could easily get behind.
Many people have an image of France as being an agricultural country, packed with farmers growing produce and selling it at local markets. This is pretty true outside of the major cities, but only two of the outdoor markets in Paris are “farmer’s” markets: a majority of the merchants buy produce from Rungis, which they boast is the largest market the world, and the produce gets resold at the open air markets sponsored by the ville de Paris.
I’m not going to say a thing, because I’m certain I did the same thing back in the day. But a lot of people who are en route to Paris ask me where they can find things like bouillabaisse, a true salade Niçoise, or Kig ha farz, and when I answer, “You can’t”, they either don’t believe me, or get irked because they think I’m being elusive and keeping those addresses a secret and probably say mean things about me behind my back.
To get those things, you need to go where they originate; they just don’t travel outside their particular region in France. I’m not sure if it’s because in America, we’re used to things being available whenever and wherever we want. Or because of our “melting pot” status, we readily accept foods from other parts of the country and the world with a little more fluidity than they do elsewhere.
But I’ve been duped one too many times in places like New York City, that advertise “San Francisco-style” burritos, which are about as close to the original as most of the rice-plumped salades Niçoises you’ll find on the Île-de-France are.
(The true salade Niçoise should only contain raw vegetables: cooked eggs are allowed, and in some cases, canned tuna or anchovies. But that’s it, folks. And don’t get me started on those New York City burritos…and I use the term “burrito” loosely. If you cut it in half and can see any air pockets, it’s not a burrito.)
I’ve learned my lesson and will stick to Black & White cookies, corned beef sandwiches, and the Halal stand in Manhattan.
There is a French term, un glaneur, which describes a person who who glanes. If you don’t have any idea what that means, you’re not alone. I had to look it up in my French dictionary and there it was, just above the word glander, which they translated as, “to fart around.”
There’s a heckuva lot of French verbs out there, and I’ve been trying to learn them as fast as my little brain can absorb them, but that was a new one on me. Would one say, “Je vous glande”, or “I fart around you?” I hope not. (At least not around me.)
A glaneur (or glaneuse), is someone who picks or forages for fruits and vegetables. And in fact, there was a well-known film called Les glaneurs et la glaneuse about French people who hunt for food.
When we were recently driving around the Seine-et-Marne, a bucolic region just an hour or so outside of Paris, where we were spending the waning days of summer, we rang the bell of a friend of ours, who unfortunately wasn’t in. Yet being the eagle-eyed forager that I am, I fortunately noticed a whole bank of trees across the street, each heavy with branches bearing a multicolored line-up of itty-bitty wild plums that were ripe ‘n ready.
It’s that time of the year—the season for Reines-Claudes plums in France has arrived!
These little green fruits, no larger than a marshmallow, are perhaps the most delicious fruits in the world. Don’t let the army-green color fool you in to thinking these plums might be tart or sour. If you get a good one, reines-claudes plums (also known as Greengage plums), are the sweetest, most succulent piece of fruit you’ll bite into.
The first of the Reines-Claudes plums are at the market.
These tiny, super-sweet little green plums are 18% sugar, one of the highest percentages of all fruits. The true French reines-claudes plums are grown in Moissac, near Toulouse, and are available for just a short time during August.
Get ‘em while you can…