Saturday, August 1, 2009

Miettes of an August Weekend

I've just gotten back from the market with one of the most spectacularly unphotogenic loads ever, so pardon no picture with this. I'm going to have to take the camera down there, because some of the best-looking stuff is stuff I'm not going to buy. Tomatoes, in particular: the cumulative effect of seeing so many of them in one place, and in particular ones which are so huge that I guess all you could do with them is stuff and bake them, is only communicable by photo unless I bought a few dozen euros' worth and carted them home -- not a good idea.

I'm in love, though, with these ugly tomates anciennes (heirloom tomatoes) everyone's got. They've got spots and holes and dirt clinging to them, but once washed and pared slightly, they're amazing. The absolute redness of their interior is hard to describe. Blood doesn't get it; it's too dark. Ketchup, which is, after all, made from tomatoes, is also too dark. There's almost no seeds, either: the ultra-red flesh extends through most of the fruit.

The other things I got were the usual: a huge head of lettuce, six eggs, a melon, and some nectarines, which are pretty enough, but the one I just ate was flavorless and floury. Ah, well, the bag only set me back 40 cents, so if the rest of them are like that, it's a small loss. I also got another saucisson sec, the local equivalent of salame, because that last one, covered in herbes de Provence, was so good. This one's garlic; the lady gave me a slice of one made with bolets, or porcini mushrooms, but I couldn't taste any mushrooms in there. My guess is I'll be able to detect garlic. I'm headed back down on Tuesday, of course, and I'll take the camera, so stay tuned.

* * *

Summertime here, like everywhere else, sees a lot of road construction and infrastructure repair, and I've had to change some of my usual routes here and there because the sidewalks are suddenly not there, and walking into oncoming French drivers should only be attempted by incipient suicides.

To mark these construction sites off, they've used a number of portable, modular barriers, sometimes filled with sand to keep them in place. What I like, though, given the nature of how contracts to do this work happen the world around -- and I assume France is no exception here, either -- is the name of the company which makes these things, printed in large letters on each module: SCAM.

I bet!

* * *

Another thing about summer is t-shirts. There are the usual stupid attempts to mimic American vintage shirts, but I've started taking notes on particularly good ones. There was the girl I saw yesterday whose t-shirt said "Proud to be blonde," which I believe was on backwards. Then there was the fat guy with the curly hair who passed me wearing a shirt which said "We're not drunk, we're from Belgium," in English, but nonetheless invoking the French equivalent of the Polish joke. But my favorite so far is one which could use some proofreading, but which I'd like to see someone appropriate wearing in the U.S. In huge letters, it says IM MUSLIM DONT PANIK.

* * *

Finally, a word about French technology, which are, I admit, words one doesn't see together all that often. The supermarket near my house is owned by the huge Monoprix chain (although I'm not sure how God feels about that, since the sign on the front of the mall was hit by lightning and caught on fire a few weeks ago), and when I went there to buy toilet paper some months back, I was confronted with a four-pack labelled "Compact," and bearing the claim that the four rolls in the package equalled twelve rolls of normal toilet paper. A roll of this stuff is hard: if a full roll were aimed at your head, you'd feel it. And it just lasts and lasts: I am only on my second four-pack.

And on another visit to the store, I saw they had paper towels labelled the same way, although with these, two rolls only equal four normal ones. But, again, it's true. I have no idea how they do this, but they really do get lots more paper rolled onto a normal-sized roll.

I'll report on any other French technological advances I come upon, but please don't hold your breath.

* * *

Observant long-time readers will note that as of yesterday, a PayPal bug, referring to my current motto, the Willem deKooning quote, "I'm not poor; I'm just broke," has appeared here. I've posted it with some reluctance because that condition still obtains, and because I had one on my Berlin blog which, on rare but always fortuitous occasions, would yield a couple of much-needed dollars. I promise to take it down as soon as things change, as I hope they will: when regular employment, a book deal, or a win at the lottery (which is just as likely as the other two, actually, except that I have yet to play the lottery) renders my situation any better. The collapse of the ghost-writing deal has hit me harder than I expected, but my lawyer has just written a very scary letter to the gonif who thought he could work me for three months without paying me, and things are very slowly getting a bit better. Meanwhile, that button is connected to my French bank account, from which the phone and rent get paid. Here's to its swift disappearence! (Um, the button, I mean...)

1 comment:

  1. I keep seeing gay men in town wearing T-shirts that read "AIDS Was Born In Africa" and I'll be damned if I can figure out what they are trying to communicate.

    Though the best shirt in the world I have never seen in France.

    It reads "Ex-Masturbator" and is given out by a weird popular Christian church in America to people who have gone through their churches anti-masturbation training seminar.


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