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myMEGusta

Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Archive for the month “September, 2014”

Mont Blanc!

No, we’re not off to the slopes of Chamonix, France, for a ski vacation, nor are we in the market for an expensive pen (MyMEGusta spends on travel, not on writing implements).

Mont Blanc!

Mont Blanc!

We are celebrating the chestnut in one of its most elegant and delicious incarnations: the Mont Blanc, a delicious mélange of chestnut puree and cream.

The lovely specimen in this picture was snapped by a friend at Angelina’s in Ginza, Tokyo, and he describes it as “Amazing! It is heaven!”,  made with real French crème fraiche flown in every other day.

Angelina’s ups the Mont Blanc ante every September, featuring a purple sweet potato version in addition to the perfectly executed classic. I wonder if they do this, or a Gallic variation, in the original Angelina’s near the Louvre in Paris? www.angelina-paris.fr

Americans may find Mont Blanc from time to time at a traditional French restaurant, or an upscale patisserie, but usually content themselves with hot chestnuts, roasted right on the street, as is done all over the chestnut loving world.  And many families make a chestnut dressing for their traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

As for the nut itself, edible, or “sweet”, chestnut trees used to grow prolifically in the United States, but were virtually wiped out about a hundred years ago by an attack of chestnut blight. Today, chestnuts consumed here are largely imported from Italy.

Water Chestnuts

Water Chestnuts

Don’t confuse thse with water chestnuts. These are delicious tubers which grow in ponds or very wet/flooded areas, and not nuts at all. Not that  most people are interested in farming them, but these are two entirely separate plants, one a delicious vegetable and the other a pesky invasive aquatic plant.

 

Left: Edible Chestnut Right: Horse Chestnut

Left: Edible Chestnut
Right: Horse Chestnut

And, don’t stumble across what looks like a chestnut and take a bite: It is probably a horse chestnut, a different species entirely and poisonous.

 

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Paris Then and Now?

Cafe au Lait in the Jardin de Luxembourg

Cafe au Lait in the Jardin de Luxembourg

Sitting in the beautiful Jardin de Luxembourg, myMEGusta pulled out the Blackberry and started typing, reflecting on how Paris has changed since the 1970s.

Exercise!!

You rarely see people (other than tourists) in sneakers, but here in the Jardin de Luxembourg and environs is the occasional glimpse of few spandex clad joggers, among them a squadron of young firemen in snappy, red uniforms, running by. We spotted them again later, changing from their gym shorts to fireman’s pants (in the street).

If nothing else, Paris is scenic!

Having walked all over Paris over the course of a few days, myMEGusta espied only one apparent gym, a storefront operation in the 17th Arrondisement with signage depicting a bikini clad babe riding what looked like an elliptical machine – in a giant tub.

Parisians  walk a lot, like New Yorkers, but in fancy shoes rather than the clumsy foot apparel Americans indulge in. The only amply proportioned people walking about appeared to be tourists, as well as the only ones in sneakers.

Good riddance to Deux Chevaux, Gitanes, and jetons

Gitanes

Gitanes

Deux Chevaux

Deux Chevaux

Two of the three, the funny little two horsepower Citroens, and extremely smelly Gitane cigarettes, are blessedly rare.

 

Jetons, the little slugs you had to purchase at bars to use a pay phone, are extinct (perhaps from all the Gitane smoke).

Cabine Telephphonique

Cabine Telephonique

Boudin!

But, one of myMEGusta’s favorites, boudin noir (French blood sausage) was elusive, and we sadly missed out on it this time. Like good Southwestern food in Santa Fe, the local treats are being replaced with lighter, more cosmopolitan and modern fare.

And Turkish toilets

As for Turkish toilets (if you have to ask, you don’t want to know), it is rumored that there is only one remaining in a reputedly tourist trap restaurant in the city. We did not seek it out.

Dear Reader:  Add your memories in a comment!

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