Summer is officially here!
Whew! June has been a month, hasn’t it? I don’t quite know where to begin, but let’s go with this: Now that travel is squarely back on the docket, I spent some time in New York with Romain, his brother, and a French friend who’d never been to New York. I wanted to be the perfect host—more on that in a minute, but when I go back to the States, I like to eat foods I’m nostalgic for, so will occasionally indulge in things like Junior Mints, fresh corn and generous bunches of fresh summer basil, Goldfish crackers, carrot juice, corn tortillas, and cottage cheese. Since discovering Good Culture in the U.S., that’s the brand I go with. My French friend, who works for the French agricultural institute, took a dubious spoonful…then ate almost the entire container in one sitting. He also discovered Triscuits and wondered where he could get them in Paris.
Romain loves padrón peppers, which weren’t quite in season, but he, and the others, also took a shine to scallions, which you don’t come across so easily in France…perhaps because they can’t quite land on a single name for them: ciboules, cébettes, cives, and oignons verts are a few terms bandied about. But the official authority on the French language, the Académie Française, is still debating oignons versus ognons, so I think green onions (and scallions) just might be too confusing for stores to stock. Even I have trouble with all the differences! A French Onion App would really be appreciated….
Another of my favorite foods that is hard to explain in French is spoon-size Shredded Wheat. (“Little pillows of woven wheat” doesn’t quite work in English, either.) It’s not a very sexy picture to kick off a newsletter with, but at this point in my life, anything with fiber is tagged #thirsttrap.
[FYI: Several years ago I must’ve mentioned something about Onion Soup Mix because people keep bringing that to me. If only I could remember why, and where… Either way, I now have enough, thanks. But Shredded Wheat will always be welcome.)
My friends were also surprised at all the locally grown produce, including everything at the farmer’s markets. Romain (obvs) loved all the flowers.
While we were there, a pal in Paris wrote to me that she was jealous of all the great pizza we were eating, namely at Leo, F & F, and L’Industrie. There’s very good pizza in Paris as well, but everyone in France orders and eats their own individual pizza with a knife and fork, so I had to give a little lesson in New York pizza politesse, and told them to lift the slices into your mouth and shove them in.
….and eventually, it struck me too. Yup, I finally got Covid. It wasn’t fun, but I’m vaxxed and boosted, and it didn’t hit me as bad as it did others. I had the sniffles, some coughing and sneezing, and a bit of a fever. With new variants racing around, France is once again in the hot seat with a 98% increase in cases in the last two weeks. (My pharmacist told me half the people they are testing are positive.) Travelers are still coming, and I can’t say if getting on a plane is safer than going to your local restaurant, bar, or to the movies. (They do say if you’re flying, the worst place to be is in the tube-like tunnel right before you board the aircraft.) Like most countries in Europe, the U.S. has dropped any testing requirements to come into the country, which makes this easier for U.S. travelers returning home, as well as mask requirements. So I guess we’re all going to have to wait and see how these let ’er rip policies play out.
One thing to know if you are thinking of traveling is that even though airlines are waiving ticket change fees, with rapidly escalating flight prices, you’ll be forced to pay the difference if you change a ticket, as well as the cost of staying put for a few more days…or weeks if you need to. Due to apartment renovations, we have no travel plans for the future anyway, although it’d be nice to join the rest of the country in taking a month or so off, and taking a real honest-to-goodness vacation. Maybe we’ll do that in September when they’re done. Or October… Or November…
My advice for folks who want to come to France at this point, if you haven’t made plans, might be to wait until the fall to travel, when airfares possibly drop, fewer people will be traveling, and they hire more people at the airports so hopefully there will be fewer flight disruptions. (Watch out, though. October is traditionally “strike month” in France.) We’re in a contentious political period in France, and there’s already a strike by workers at airports, which are understaffed, planned for July 2nd. When we returned to France, there was only one booth open for passport control, although the electronic machines were working for those with French passports. A friend from California just left the other night and said going through the outgoing passport and security controls at CDG airport “took forever.”
If you do travel, be prepared for changes to your itinerary or travels. As a friend who’s a doctor told me, the virus needs us to survive so that it can live. So let’s hope it goes easier on us in the future!
Links I’m Liking…
Paris airport officials say there’s a shortage of 4,000 employees. (Euro News)
Round-up of Favorite Paris Bistros. (Paris by Mouth)
Paris chefs make an exodus to the countryside to focus on produce. (BBC)
Mon dieu! A Dijon mustard shortage hits France. (Guardian)
Want to live “like a local”? Alex Teaches French gives a lesson in how to be treated like a French person in France:
Why eating at your desk is “banned” in France, although I see scofflaws—I mean, people in my neighborhood doing it in their offices. (NPR)
Are food and wine pairings ridiculous? I tend to agree, and people, please…stop insisting one should only drink red wine with cheese, and pair red wine chocolate. (Port + chocolate = Bliss) (Everyday Drinking)
I chimed in, In Defense of Prunes (Eater)
Recent Recipes and Posts
Tarragon seems to have been forgotten in the rush to ferment vegetable scraps, spread and pile up things on toast, and stuff cakes with candy that spills out when you slice it on IG and TikTok. This lively Tarragon vinaigrette uses a perfectly wonderful herb that’s not seeking fame (even though it was quite famous in the ’70s…). It’s sharp, assertive, and a brilliant accompaniment to grilled vegetables or fish, sliced tomatoes, and even makes a plate of hard-cooked eggs look and taste like magic was spooned over them. Like my Basil vinaigrette, this one is going on rotation this summer, too. (Okay, I’ll admit that it’s also good drizzled over avocado toast.)
My kitchen is…up! After months of waiting, the cabinets arrived and have been put into place. As we wait for the sink to arrive (end of July, perhaps?) and the countertops (crossing fingers for July, but likely September…or October), things have been happening in our new apartment. (For paid subscribers.)
I patiently wait all year for nectarines, cherries, and plums to appear at the market, and when they do, I make my favorite summer fruit recipes with them, from blueberry buckle with lemon syrup to apricot-cherry tart, and more! They’re all here in one post.
A must-stop for me in Brooklyn is Winner, to say hi to chef/owner Daniel Eddy, who I know from when he was cooking in Paris, to taste the wonderful pastries of French-trained pastry chef Ali Spahr. In my podcast, we chatted about making French pastries in America, why she uses French butter…and the best part: I got to do a tasting of her croissants, pains au chocolat, and more!
Little fish don’t get the bigger splash of attention that their more sizable counterparts get, but they’re tastier, more economical, better for you, and better for the planet. Whew! That’s a big order, but these spicy mackerel cakes make their case, with a dollop of Korean chile paste and a pile of zingy cabbage slaw tinged with lime, on the side.
Can’t get mustard? Make your own! I keep mustard seeds in my spice cabinet, and if you’re anything like me and are having trouble getting mustard at the moment, here’s how to make your own homemade mustard.
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