My first week back in Paris. I am munching on goose rillettes on gluten-free tartines peppered with bites of tangy cornichons.

As Paris and constant travel have been making a tight squeeze on the wallet, I have tried to cut back on luxuries, but can’t seem to go without rillettes (the best is Duperier from G. Detou in Les Halles), fresh pressed orange juice in the supermarket(!) Carrefour, and 10euros/$13 on Le Fooding, a food/art mag. I am also snacking (grignoter) on leftover guacamole from yesterday. Yes, a chef’s dinner like that of every other single young professional out there – whatever you can cobble together from the mainly empty frigo. But who cuts the barber’s hair?

Hopefully the person who will cut my hair (code: cook me dinner) is a man I met on the metro today. He eyed me as he stepped onto the no. 10 train, and then sidled to the left, then slid next to me on the adjoining seat. Sly guy. He saw I was reading my Fooding mag, and said, “I know a good restaurant.” I of course turn up my nose, and say oh really? Because you know, you are talking to a chef here.” But no in all actuality, I listen intently, because the French know their food. I can wax poetic about the subtle balance between texture and flavour in an eclair with a plumber or diplomat in this country. He says that he cooks better than any restaurant in. Fabrice. You have my number. Call me. (I’m hungry).

After an arduous 40 minute commute, I arrived in the far southeast corner of Paris (who comes here?). It was my new language exchange partner, a French-Portugeuse Parisien. He showed me some salsa moves, then proceeded to clear up common cliches about the French:

Do they bathe or not?

in 1830, Napoleon commissioned Haussmann to revamp the city of Paris. About 70 percent of the buildings in Paris bear the iconic flourishes of stone heads over the entrances with moustaches and curlicued plants along the windows. This revitalisation of the city also brought running water! (the water pipes are visible outside the buildings), which was a modern luxury then. Before this, the French rarely bathed; every so often they would dive in the communal fountains with a bucket. Hence the cliche that they don’t bathe. But they do. I think. Mostly. Just kidding.

Why are French women so icy?

2) The cold comportment of French women is a social mask, according to one French psychologist. Image is paramount. Parisiennes have lots of dreams, but they are never fully realised. For example, if a group of girls go out for a drink in a bar, and she sees a good-looking guy across the room, she really likes the guy, would love to go out with him, but would never dream of going over to talk to him. Because her friends might judge her. However, if she was introduced to a man within her social circle, then that is safer, and less risky. However when a Parisienne travels to Brazil or Asia for example, no one knows her there so she can be more risqué.

When asked what she did on vacation, she drily responds, “Oh you know, went to the museums, art galleries, tours of the city…”

French men, on the other hand are quite ‘machismo,’ he divulged, yet must make sure he does not ruin the reputation of any girls whom he makes the acquaintance of.

During our talk, there was a girl who phoned this guy nonstop. He didn’t want to be the bad guy; so he just avoided her calls until he could let her down easy, he said. That seemed like just a general male characteristic, French or otherwise.

My stomach is rumbling I need to search for something else to eat…I wonder if Fabrice was actually serious about cooking me dinner? While I check my phone, you can sample a classic French food and get some  goose (oie) rillettes in Paris or online:

(the name of the store is a play on the french phrase j’ai de tous (I have all) – it’s a tiny packed store that literally has ‘everything’)
58, rue Tiquetonne 75002 Paris
01 42 36 54 67.
Open Monday through Saturday 8:30am through 6:30pm
Metro: Etienne Marcel ou Les Halles

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