Tuesday 27 May 2008

Fetes des Voisins Paris

Headless Accordion Man
Originally uploaded by malias.

Do you live in an apartment block? Do you recognize the people in building but, apart from an amicable bonjour or a perfunctory nod, you have no contact with them. The old lady with the annoying little dogs, the man in the suit with the goatee beard, the young couple upstairs who play their music too loud. Would you like to meet these people and get to know who they really are? Have a drink together and share a glass of vin rouge? No? Not particularly? Well that's too bad because today you have that chance.

It's the Fetes des Voisins your chance to meet your neighbours (and perhaps get a few things off your chest). They claim that 5 million people will take part in France this year and another 2 million in 700 other European cities including Paris, Berlin, Dublin, Rome, Luxembourg, Birmingham, Porto and Ljubljana.

Could be great, could be terrible I guess it depends what your neighbours are like.

Monday 26 May 2008

Mahatma Gandhi in Adecco Ad

Here, spotted on a Paris street, is Mahatma Gandhi, Indian spiritual leader and revered pioneer of the non violence resistance movement being used in an advertisement by Adecco, the employment agency (or "human resource solutions" company as they prefer to call themselves these days).

This is an outrageous abuse of the great man's image. It seems incredible that his image has been used to further the profits of a multi-national corporation. What next "The Dalai Lama wears Kalvin Klein underwear", "Martin Luther King drinks, Nespresso"? I don't know how these companies get hold of the image rights but I wish they would stop. It's extremely annoying and disrespectful.

Friday 16 May 2008

Horse Meat in Paris

If a man eats a cow a pig or a sheep then why not a horse? But when Gordon Ramsay offered samples of horse meat to passers by on his TV programme there were gasps of horror throughout the kingdom culminating in demonstrators dumping piles of equine manure outside his London Claridges Restaurant.

This taboo against horse meat exists in the UK and the US but not in France.

In France horse meat was until recently sold exclusively in boucheries chevalines, it was forbidden for ordinary butchers to sell it but the government relaxed regulations in the 1990s and now you can even find it in supermarkets.

Nevertheless, the boucheries chevalines are still a common sight in the quartier. I can think of a least 5 within 20 minutes walk of my apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. They’re easy to spot; many will have will have figures of horses heads (what else?) hanging above the premises (photo is of Au cheval du Marais, Paris 75004). In fact, sales of horse meat are actually increasing in France.

The meat is tasty and it’s high in protein and low in fat (50 per cent leaner than beef). It is even prescribed by French doctors as treatment for anaemia. So it’s not surprising that super chefs such as Gordon Ramsay are urging us to overcome our sentimentality and give it a go.

Although horse meat has become chic amongst trendy Parisians I can’t see it talking off in a culture like the Britain’s, so steeped in equestrian nostalgia. We grew up with Black Beauty and Cheltenham races and we drink beer in the Nag’s Head but if you’re paying a visit to Paris then you’ll have ample opportunity to have a give it a try.

Sunday 11 May 2008

The Picture of Durian Gray

The Picture of Durian Gray
Originally uploaded by malias.

The Durian season is here, if you're around the Asian districts of Belleville or the 13th arrodissement in Paris then you can find this smelly yet delicous fruit (In Asia it's referred to as "The king of fruit") at a Chinese superrmarket. They're kind of expensive but sometimes you've got to push the boat out.

It's a good time to eat the fruit and a good time for terrible puns too.

Friday 9 May 2008

La Nuit de Musees

Et tu Brute

Saturday 17th May 2008 is la nuit de musees (night of Museums). This is a 24 hour event mainly in France but several other European countries are taking part where the museums are open late into the night. Entry is free and many museums are putting on guided tours and special events just for the occasion. One such event is a video projection in the gardens of the Rodin museum but there are many to choose from.

In Paris and the Ile de France area 133 museums and galleries are taking part. Full details found on the website nuitdesmusees.culture.fr/

So if the bars are noisy and smell on Saturday night make your excuses and go feast your eyes on a Renoir or a Da Vinci. It's never too late for a bit of culture.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Citron Pressé

Citron pressé is a favourite drink of mine, perfect for warm summer afternoons outside on the terrace. You can order it a most French cafés.

The ingredients are simple, freshly squeezed lemon juice, a little ice, a carafe of water and granulated sugar. You'll just get the lemon juice and ice in the glass the water and sugar you add according to how you like it.