Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What I miss most about Paris

After 3 weeks in San Francisco, we are enjoying very much being back in our home, but there are of course a number of adjustments. Off the top of my head, here are three things I miss about Paris:

1. Food that doesn’t smell. Every time we go to our San Francisco butcher we get home with smelly food. The French markets have both fresher products and better handling of the products in the store. In Paris, we could have the butcher prepare a chicken and cook it 3 days later. In San Francisco, the chicken smells iffy the minute you get it out of that funky plastic bag whose primary purpose seems to be preventing you from getting a fowl whiff before purchasing the bird.
2. Wine with finesse. American wines are meant to be drunk much earlier than French wines, yet the grapes are the same. The reason you have to age French wines is to reduce the tannins – the bitter, pucker-producing aftertaste from a red wine. The way the American producers get around this is to make the initial taste so overpowering that you don’t notice the bitter aftertaste. The result is commonly called a fruit-bomb – a wine that clubs your tastebuds into submission so that they won’t notice they’re being bamboozled. This is also the reason that American wines don’t go well with food – the heavy, sweet fruit flavor knocks out everything in its path.
3. Being exotic. In Paris, being a high tech yuppie escaped from Silicon Valley was exotic. Back in San Francisco we are just high tech yuppies whose greatest claim to fame is that we drive Toyota hybrids, not BMWs. Everyone in the Parisian ex-pat community had a story about how they got there. We also shared a sense of being outsiders and short-termers who no sane French person would befriend, so we all felt sorry for each other and go out of our way to find each other interesting.