November 2021 Newsletter
From making butter and roasting fruit, to not catching a thief #paris
Yes, that was me the other night at 11pm, the crazy guy chasing after a woman who was walking very fast down our street. I’d been on the sofa in my jammies streaming a movie and noticed a shadowy figure lurking outside the front of our building. When I opened the window to get a closer look, a woman was rifling through our flowerboxes pulling out our plants and piling them into a plastic bag.
When she saw me, she gathered up the bag quickly and took off down the street. So I did what any normal person would do at 11pm in Paris: I put on my slippers, grabbed my phone, and ran after her. As I continued in hot pursuit, she picked up her pace when she realized I was snapping her picture.
Yes, that was me yelling “Voleuse! Voleuse!” as startled people drinking at cafés and hanging out on the sidewalks turned to watch, and a few neighbors opened their windows to watch the spectacle. I didn’t know what I was going to do if I caught up with the voleuse, but when we reached a major boulevard, I let her go.
[Just in case you’re wondering, she was well-dressed in a typical young Parisienne outfit of trendy sneakers and high-waisted jeans. If you can afford €135 vegan sneakers, you can buy a €3 ivy plant.)
When I got back home, I noticed she had not only pulled out specific plants, but ripped most of the ivy off the wall that we had spent a couple of years training to climb.
Readers have often told me, helpfully (with some adding the word “should” - a word that Miss Manners says is time to retire), that I grow herbs in our flowerboxes rather than buy them at the market. But the basil, rosemary, and sage we’ve planted were picked over for a while. Then when people found it too tedious to come by a take just a few leaves (which was fine with me), they eventually uprooted the entire plants and brought them home, leaving gaping holes in our urban garden.
But even worse than finding our plants had been pilfered are the things I’ve found in our flowerboxes, that range from cigarette butts and beer cans, to…well, let’s just say some things are streaming outside of our place, not just inside, as when I’m watching a movie.
So we’ve been thinking about moving (!) to a neighborhood with a little less daily (and nightly) drama. If so, either steel yourself for L’Appart Part Deux, or I’ll start reporting on how that goes here in the newsletter. Stay tuned!
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest (and buried the lede…), October meant the weather went from sunny to blustery, and we had our time change yesterday, as we get ready to hunker down for winter and darkness falls across the land. But a ray of light for many was that it was announced that Europeans will be able to travel to the U.S. again starting on November 8th, which many Europeans are happy about since the EU borders have been open for a while to Americans (and I’m seeing and hearing more of them here in Paris) and French people wanted the same ability to visit the States.
Over the years I’ve learned that in Paris, there’s usually a few warm days to come…no matter how chilly it gets…so I don’t put all my summer clothes away when the first blast of cold comes through. But I’m confident that winter produce is here, and am seeing more and more apples, pears, and quinces at the market, while we bid a final farewell to the quetsches (prune plums) that I’ve been roasting to extend their season a.l.a.p (as long as possible) and figs, which are still hanging on. I’ve been roasting those too.
Thanks to those of you who wrote to me after a recent newsletter where I asked you a few things about this newsletter, including frequency and content, which were very helpful as I stretch my legs with this new format here on Substack. Food blogging has changed so much in the last few years that I have trouble keeping up with it, and the technology; I just spent the week learning what test.html and test.php files are, and to be honest, I’m a lot more interested in writing recipes and sharing stories about Paris, then learning about code and formatting recipes for search engines. I really just want to cook and write about Paris.
Heading toward 2022, I’m working with my web designer on refreshing the look and style of the blog. The newsletter is more manageable for me, and I can also be more casual and open since if you’re reading this, you’ve likely signed up to receive the newsletter (for either the free and paid version.) So I’m trying to figure out a way to balance the two, the blog and the newsletter, but things are tipping more in the favor of expanding the newsletter since it’s a lot of fun chatting with you here.
Links I’m Liking…
Our friends at French Connections asks Parisians “Is Paris a dirty city?” (France24, video)
Parisians over their FOGO; fear of going out. (NYT)
Vending machine in Japan offers up affordable cuisine française. (Japan Today)
So that’s why our toasters suck… (Wirecutter/possibly paywall)
Crunchy croissant brittle. Oui, it’s a thing. (Taste)
Balenciaga sends The Simpsons to Paris. (YouTube/Balenciaga)
After 27 years, is Bobby Flay (who reportedly wanted $100 million to stay) ready to break up with Food Network (Variety, via Stained Pages News) In related news, imagine if I could have Beaten Bobby Flay, how much would I have been worth??
Halloween may be over, but these are considered the most “horrifying” flavors of hummus in the world. (My Jewish Learning)
After 8 years of construction, hotel “Madame Rêve” to open at Paris post office. Rooms start at, gulp…$590 night. (T+L)
The great wine of France, Sauternes, swings for a comeback. (FT, possible paywall)
The six worst restaurant chairs. I share their vote for #1 - the dreaded backless barstool. (Eater)
Recent Blog Posts, Recipes, and Newsletters
What’s available now at the market in Paris? My in-depth round-up of the various fruits, vegetables, herbs…and more!…that are showing up at my local market, from kuri squash and wild mushrooms, to oysters and wine grapes.
Have you ever wanted to make your own French cheese? I have! So I finally did at a cheesemaking class at Paroles des Fromagers in Paris, which also included making our own extra-delicious salted butter. It was a blast and the butter (above) was unbelievably good. I know we’re not supposed to say “should” anymore, but if you come to Paris, you could take this class.
But if you can’t make it to Paris to make cheese, you can easily make cheese at home, in tangy, creamy rounds of Labneh balls. You can flavor these Arabesque treats with anything from fresh herbs (preferably not ones grown in my outdoor flower boxes…!) to vibrant paprika or savory za’atar. Give ‘em a go!
Italian prune plums were still hanging around at the market, so I honey-roasted a few pounds which we’ve been enjoying with our morning yogurt, as well as…
…roasted figs. Yes, an overload of figs that I got - a whole flat for €5 (~$6) at the market - prompted me to revisit my Roasted Fig recipe. I still have a few pounds left, though. So those are on my baking docket.
And finally…thanks for the support.
Yes, while I appreciate your subscribing to this newsletter, in this case, le support was for my shower head which, at long last, is up and running thanks to the support that holds it in place.
Even more confounding/vexing than a bobo (hipster) plant thief in Paris is the Pommeau de douche, the handheld shower. Mine was working just fine until a well-built plumber came to repair the shower after a leak in the building. He neglected to put the shower holder back on the wall and I spent a few weeks wrestling with the shower hose - which as anyone knows who’s tried to take a shower with one of these, is impossible to do without soaking the whole bathroom. So not only am I getting a good hosedown, but also my entire bathroom has been too.
Issue now marked: Résolu. (Resolved) For now…
Thanks for subscribing to the monthly newsletter! This goes out to all subscribers, along with a few additional posts and recipes throughout the month. If you want to become a paid subscriber and get all the newsletters, and not miss anything, you can sign up below at a special price through the first week of November. -dl