Thursday, July 28, 2011

U.S. Place Names in French

As a lifelong student of the French language, I've always appreciated the French names of places in the United States. Some are better known than others, albeit with Americanized pronunciations. One of my favorites is Picketwire. From the French "Purgatoire," Purgatory.

Some other favorites (not including cities and towns named for famous Frenchmen or places in France):

Detroit. (Where the river narrows.)

Des Moines. (Of the monks)

Baton Rouge. (Red stick)

Havre de Grace. (Harbor of Grace)

Mount Desert Island and its sidecar, Isle au Haut. (Island of the deserted mountains; high island.)

And, so verrry French: The Grand Tetons.

Go ahead, take a look at the beauties in this photo and try to convince me that the mountain range was NOT named for the French phrase for large mammaries. Some claim that that interpretation of the origin of the name is "controversial." Too much tittering about it, I guess. I'm not fooled.

What are your favorite French place names in the U.S.?

P.S. By the way. Hey, Wyoming, you wonderful state: how about a little more blog-love? Je vous adore, and not just because I'm envious of the grands tétons.

Images via Wikipedia and Clustrmaps.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Plaisir d'été

Plaisir d'été. One of life's simple pleasures. Summertime and a little apéro.

I was delighted to see that Marie Brizard, this anisette aperitif, still exists.

Since it's been around since 1755.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pan Bagnat

I am quite a regular at the local French take-out place next door to our school, Cafe La Tartine. Today I ordered one of my standards, "Half a Pan Bagnat, no onions, please."

The new counter person said, "Is THAT how you pronounce it? We're still trying to get that one right." (Long story about new owner and new help, not worth long explanation.)

Without being asked for elaboration, I of course offered it amply anyway. Hmm. Does my reputation precede me?

Pronunciation: pahhn ban-yah

Origin: Provence. I regaled them with stories of my junior year in Provence, and the way a pan bagnat was served there (not in a baguette, but in a big hollowed-out round of bread, pressed and sliced). Back then, it was a budget-minded student's dream come true for an all-in-one meal. Salade nicoise in a bun, kinda.

I found a great pan bagnat recipe in the New York Times. My favorite part?

"Put sandwich under a weight such as a cast-iron frying pan topped with a filled kettle, or have a child about 7 years old sit on it."


Bon appetit!

image via wikipedia

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's Bastille Day!

"Happy July 14!"

That just doesn't sound like much in English, does it? So we francophiles toss around "Happy Bastille Day." That sounds festive.

Of course in French, one never says "Joyeux Jour de la Bastille," either. In France you celebrate le quatorze juillet because it's a national holiday and everything is closed (even hospitals, as my friend Mary Blake reminds me. Though I disagree with her: I don't think they throw out all the existing sick patients for the day, but they just don't admit any new patients except tres urgent. But I digress.)

One of my favorite parts of le 14 juillet in France is watching the défilé militaire down the Champs Elysees in Paris. I've never had the right connections to get a good parade-viewing seat, and so have always relied on watching it on television. How utterly different from an American July 4th parade, with the shiny old fire trucks and home-grown, home-town floats! The military splendor of soldiers marching, the overhead patrouille of aircraft. Two full hours of formal regalia. Thrilling to the bone.

One of the cultural, adjustments I had to make when I lived in France was realizing that France doesn't celebrate July 4th with the same exuberance that the US celebrates Bastille Day. A few festive or commemorative gatherings here and there, to be sure. But, I wondered, do the French realize how much Bastille Day is a major party in the US? From Boston to New York to San Francisco to many towns and cities in between, Bastille Day is a major cause for celebration in the streets. Don't take my word for it: google it and find out for yourself.

And as much as I adore and admire David McCullough, I think he underestimates the American celebration of Bastille Day in today's New York Times column. Please read his wonderful The Greater Journey, the stories of some remarkable Americans in Paris in the 19th century. Totally engrossing and riveting: buy it today if you haven't already.

For this American francophile, Bastille Day in the US means afternoon petanque in Golden Gate Park, and evening champagne with some French dignitaries, while the rest of San Francisco whoops it up into the wee hours with lively wine-filled festivities. We may not have the feu d'artifice, but man, we Americans DO celebrate July 14!

Vive la France!

image via wikipedia

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our Maids are Squeaky Clean

This flyer just arrived in my mailbox from the folks at MaidPro.

Surely a coincidence (ha!) or surely NOT a coincidence in timing?

"The wrong maid is an accident waiting to happen."

"MaidPro -- We're squeaky clean."

And their other motto: "Talk dirty, live clean."

Saturday, July 09, 2011

New Format

Fresh new banner and font!

Bof. I was getting bored with the old one.

What do you think?


Saturday, July 02, 2011

Who is the Parisian male?

THE PARISIAN MALE…Who is he? Where does today’s Parisian man go for nightlife, to dine, for entertainment, or to shop for clothes?

Of course we are all salivating to know the answer to these burning and relevant questions. Aren't we?

Through its annual survey, Le Figaroscope a few months ago offered a quick sketch of the typical male denizen of Paris: "at once perfectible but seductive, snob yet distinguished, lighthearted yet erudite."

The survey had some interesting responses: the vote came in for the handsome and talented Edouard Baer as the icon of French male-ness. Can't argue with that. And details of his favorite haunts and habits are spelled out for you. Even if your French isn't le top, you can read the article here and find out the cool, hip places to be a man in Paris. And statistics about the runners-up.

Ah, then the tables turn! None other than Inès de la Fressange opines in the article, offering her view of the typical Parisian man. I didn't want anyone to miss this, so I translated it all for you.

According to Inès, the typical Parisian male

• takes his car to go exercise (e.g. jogging in the Luxembourg Garden) ;
• goes to cafés but only drinks coffee at the office;
• never wears brown suits;
• uses neither an umbrella nor a hat;
• buys his books in a local bookstore, even though he spends his life in front of the computer screen;
• has lunch on the Left Bank on weekends, but on the Right Bank during the week;
• reads the International Herald Tribune and subscribes to it when away at his vacation home;
• has a taxi-service subscription because he knows it’s delusional to think one can hail a taxi in the streets of Paris;
• drops his kids off at school but is never the one to pick them up;
• has two cars, including one Smart Car, but makes everyone think he arrived by Velib;
• votes in the countryside, where he has a second home: the only way to have his voice heard;
• skis in Megève, vacations on île de Ré or at Cap-Ferret, because there are plenty of Parisians there;
• makes snide comments about people whom he will then greet ceremoniously at Brasserie Lipp;
• is on a diet (he is a personal friend of Pierre Dukan);
• doesn’t manage to lose weight because the gym is under renovation, or too far away, or closed, or whatever…;
• loves going to London, IF it’s for work;
• doesn’t want to change residences, but his wife does;
• has a dog (more so than in any other city), but no place to walk it without a leash;
• wants to live in the 5th arrondissement in order to enroll his son in the Lycée Henri-IV (“you will be in the elite of the nation, my boy");
• “never goes” to the Marché aux Puces (« it’s too far, too expensive, no good finds») ;
• has furniture that comes exclusively from the Marché aux Puces;
• goes to Habitat to look like an American;
• buys his swim suits at Ralph Lauren, to look like Bobby Kennedy;
• “never” goes to the hairdresser (even though his hair is always short);
• doesn’t have a mistress, only « co-workers »;
• doesn’t have a guest bedroom;
• goes to bed early and gets up late, then is in meetings and unreachable;
• wasn’t born in Paris;
• starts out spearheading the search for child care for the new baby; and then, ultimately, asks his wife to figure it all out;
• doesn’t carry a plastic bag to pick up after his dog;
• never sees high chairs for the baby in restaurants; but since he isn’t Swedish it doesn’t surprise him.

Eh, oui, those fascinating, inscrutable Parisiens!

Edouard Baer image via Wikipedia
Locations of visitors to this page
Travel Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory blog search directory Targeted Website Traffic - Webmasters helping webmasters develop high value relevant links. Promoting ethical web-marketing using the time trusted pillars of relevance and popularity.