Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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Housekeeping

Updates on stuff I’ve written and your comments.

Paul Klee's The Angler is there. I <3 Klee.

Paul Klee’s The Angler is there. I <3 Klee.

→ Don’t know if anyone actually reads these things, but I’ve updated my About page and added a Features page that collects all the recurring stuff. I’d appreciate any input on if this was a good use of my time or if people prefer to navigate with tags.

A recreation of the famous “degenerate art” show held in Munich in 1937 is at NYC’s Neue Galerie through the end of June 2014. An interview with the curator on WNYC gives lots of historical perspective and is worth a listen. A review of the show, with more context is here. Finally, the NYT on the making of the exhibit.

→ Speaking of Nazis and their art-thieving, VANITY FAIR reports on that trove of art stolen by a Nazi found in a Munich apartment.

→ A BBC reporter and film crew got a tour of the art. Can you imagine having this stuff in your house?! We had art in my house growing up, but this stuff is ART. Like, super serious good stuff by actual masters. A. R. T.

Pollution→ The Paris smog situation was really dire. On the days that it was worst, I got home and felt like I’d smoked a pack of cigarettes without any of the actual fun of smoking a pack of cigarettes. Since the pollution was higher than in Singapore, I guess I wasn’t exaggerating (see left). An explanation via Gizmodo says that, in addition to the weird weather patterns we were having, France’s love of diesel engines is at the root of the problem. (Lots of interesting links in the story.)

→ The NYT hasn’t gotten my memo about Catalan cooking; their story about fideuà is mostly correct… except that they spell the name of the dish wrong. It’s made with fideus [noodles], not called that. This would be like calling paella “rice” or a cheeseburger “meat patty.” Angry sigh.

→ My sister suggested that maybe the translation of the Latin mulĭer to “mistress” is less sexist than I thought. My dictionary has the primary definition as “a woman in a position of authority or control,” so maybe it’s my mind that’s corrupt and not the Spanish language. (Regardless, Spanish wouldn’t have won that day.) (Also, Spaniards are totally sexist, so I doubt that she’s right but concede that it’s possible.)

Look at the # of retweets/faves!

Look at the # of retweets/faves!

→ I love how the “fact” at right is presented, as if there’s ONLY ONE place in ALL OF FRANCE that does this. I’m sure variations on this happen all over. For instance, I know that MOST places in the tourist-frequented areas of Barcelona charge foreigners more on principle, so I’m not sure why UberFacts thinks the French would be so different. I mean, the French are better than Spaniards, but not by that much.

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Lies in advertising

There’s nothing particularly Catalan about this mix and I can’t even begin to figure out why anyone would think so. Cabbage, red and green peppers and carrots aren’t exclusive to the region, nor are they particularly popular there, certainly not shredded like this.

Catalan Mélange

Regardless, I bought it to make my version of kimchi: soy sauce + Korean red pepper paste or Sriracha sauce. It ain’t authentic but it’s not half bad if you’re jonesing for some spicy slaw.


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Catalans in Paris, Part 1

Standing in line to go up the Eiffel Tower with a visiting friend and her half-Catalan five-year old, we quickly determine that the people both in front of us and behind us are Catalan. The two groups recognize each other as fellow countrymen and start talking about their respective trips.

This kid's half Catalan and therefore crazy enough to try scaling the Eiffel Tower.

This kid’s half Catalan and therefore crazy enough to try scaling the Eiffel Tower.

The people ahead of us included three adults and two children who had been in town for only a couple days. The group behind us was a family with both parents and three children who were wrapping up their week-long visit. They all compared notes on what was worth seeing, how much more things cost here and how the children were faring being in a foreign country.

At one point, the dad behind us (whose family had been in Paris for several days) started calling out to his son Arnau to settle down since he was running around a bit too much. “Do you want a llonganissa sandwich?” he asked. My head whipped around to my friend so that we could lock eyes and grin at each other because that is classic Catalan behavior.

You see, Catalan people think their food is the best in the world. They so firmly believe in the superiority of their cuisine that, when they travel, they will pack food from home. The first time I heard this, a student of mine was telling me about her friend who’d had to go to India for work for a week and had vacuum-packed two dozen sandwiches to take with her. I was flabbergasted. Indian food is soooo good and to miss an opportunity to eat it in its native land seemed like the biggest waste. Plus, eating days-old sandwiches sounds terrible, but my student insisted that it had to be done. Did I know that they didn’t even have bread in India? I told her that India had naan which is delicious and a kind of bread, but she dismissed me by saying that whatever naan was, it wasn’t bread.

Over the five years that I lived amongst them, I was told by many more people that, of course, they travelled with food. More than a few even told me of trips here, to France, where they’d brought their own eats which still seems like the most insane thing anyone has ever done. Why in holy hell would you bring food to France? You would if you’re Catalan, because Catalan people are crazy.

Eat something

Embotit is “cured sausage” in Catalan, but fuet, which is one of the regional kinds and what most Catalans are referring to when saying llonganissa is a really, really good skinny flavorful pork sausage. If I could get it here, I would totally buy it all the time. As it is, I get an Italian kind that is pretty similar since I haven’t bothered to find a French one that I like as well.