Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


Bachelor Food: grilled cheese and tomato soup

This is a combination that I distinctly remember “inventing” when I was a kid and I was disappointed to learn years later that many, many people had grown up having grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup served to them by their mothers. I do think that it’s a Midwesternism though, so I’m going to expand the definition of my invention to include that it’s part of the hive mind and leave it at that.

Let's never speak about how ugly this bowl is.

Let’s never speak about how ugly this bowl is.

I was inspired to reprise this classic childhood treat after finding single-serving containers of tomato soup sold by some German company in the “weird food” section of one of my local stores and by the pilot episode of FX’s new series, FARGO, where two adult characters have this combo for lunch.

Disregard that Canadian network logo. They aren't in MN or ND.

Disregard that Canadian network logo.

This is where I tell you that despite most of the action in the story, both the show’s and the 1996 film’s upon which it’s loosely spun off, taking place in Minnesota, Fargo is actually a town in North Dakota. Being an ex-Midwesterner, this kind of flagrant disregard for our state boundaries and identities pisses me off. Now everyone who watches the show is going to have an even worse idea of where things are located in that vast area that’s alternately tundra and arable land and where people do talk with weird accents, albeit not all the same one.

It’s on the eastern border with Minnesota.

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Bachelor Food: Baked potato skins

You can take the girl out of the country that provides the bar food, but you can’t take the bar-food-loving out of the girl. In my continuing efforts to recreate all the crappy things I like to eat, here are my Frenchified “baked potato skins.”

Baked potato skins


  1. “Bake” potatoes in the microwave by poking all over with a fork then nuking them for a few minutes (until tender).
  2. Put bacon substitute, in this case Italian salami, on a piece of foil and place in toaster oven until it begins to crisp, but watch that it doesn’t burn. Remove to a paper towel.
  3. Once potatoes are cooked, cut or smash them open and place them skin-side down on the salami foil, using the fat to coat the skins, then flip them so they’re skin-side up. Put in toaster oven until the skins get the texture you like.
  4. Flip potatoes over, quickly blasting on broil to dry out the flesh, then lower heat and cover with cheddar.
  5. When the cheese is almost melted, crumble up the salami in the paper towel and sprinkle it over the cheese. Let everything ooze together.

Serve with chives, crème fraîche (sour cream) or diced tomatoes.


Mac and fromage

As some famous dead guy should have written,

In the Winter a young woman’s fancy turns lightly to mac and cheese

Inspired by Buzzfeed’s gallery of glorious examples and the discovery of a cast iron Dutch oven in the apartment I’m subletting, I set out to gather all the necessary ingredients to make my own. And it was sublime.

Farfalle with artichokes, spinach and lots-o-cheese

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CCC soup (cauliflower, corn, cheddar)

Vegetables are basically the worst. They’re a pain to buy, to clean, to cut, to cook and to keep. In a perfect world, I’d never eat them* but in this world, I recognize that they contain vitamins and minerals and are healthy blah blah so I do. Sometimes.

The one thing veg has over meat is that it comes in pretty colors. Take a look at this recent haul from my green grocer. It’s like a box of crayons!

But then the tedium sets in and I find that although the very small eggplant and the very skinny eggplant are very pretty shades of purple, they are stupidly boring tasting and have a kind of poster board consistency. All the garlic and oil in the world didn’t make them even mildly interesting which is a crime against garlic.

And then there were the peppers. I was totally seduced by them and got a red, a green and a little white one and had no idea what to do with them. Since the weather’s nice and cool now, I thought a soup would be the way to go, but that meant another trip to the store to get a main vegetable (see how annoying they are?!).

So I went with cauliflower, which I really don’t like because it gives me gas and is super duper annoying to clean and cut. But I did it. Diced the peppers and threw them in a pot with some onions, garlic and oil. Cooked for a while. Tossed in a whole head of chopped cauliflower. Cooked for another long while. Realized that the colors weren’t as pretty as I wanted so I added a can of corn. Kept cooking till the cauliflower was done and then I just let it cool overnight on the stove because I was exhausted.

The next day, I melted some butter in a pot, added a dash of Ranch powder and some flour, stirred, then added milk until I had a nice little creamy consistency. Put the veg mix in the blender until smooth. Added one serving of mush to the pot and stirred until combined, seasoning to taste, which, I admit, was pretty good.

But not great. Which is when I hit on adding cheddar to the top and that made this a damn fine dish to eat on a cold day.

To sum up, the amount of things I had to clean after this little culinary caper:

  • Cutting board
  • chef’s knife
  • Dutch oven
  • metal spatula
  • small pot
  • blender and all its annoying pieces
  • assorted cutlery

Total. pain. in. the. ass.

*Potatoes, while technically vegetables, don’t count. I would eat them forever.

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Bachelor breakfast

I’ve always liked the term “bachelor” though I don’t know how I became familiar enough with the word to grow fond of it. (Of course, Bertie Wooster and his pals are enough of a reason to like anything, but I digress before I’ve even started.) I like that it conveys independence and choice unlike “spinster” which reeks of desperation and homeliness. It turns out that a “bachelor girl” is a thing, but that sounds tawdry, so I’m sticking with bachelor.

Anyway, here’s a breakfast I made recently with some stuff that was going to go bad. A couple eggs beaten with milk, salt, pepper and chives; cheddar melted on tortillas; lettuce; taco sauce (that means the liquid kind, not chunky salsa). My trick is that I cook the eggs with a heavy lid on the pan so that I get some convection action happening. Makes for not-runny and not-hard eggs. Perfection.