Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


Green eggs and duck

George Costanza can keep all the salsa in the world: mustard is the condiment for me.

It may be cheating to claim all variations of mustard as one thing but, as we’ve established, I make the rules around here and what I say goes, so I’ll allow it.

One of my early and most enduring mustard loves is Savora which I recommend everyone seek out, but I’m no snob so I also love classic American yellow mustard when appropriate and finer Dijons when a stronger flavor is called for.

A new entry into my mustard museum is this one made by Maille, a 267-year old company (now owned by Unilever).

green Maille Fines Herbes Mutarde

Naturally, I was drawn to its avocado coloring and the promise of three herbs. Its flavor is divine and I’ve taken to classing up regular fare with it. Here are some green eggs and duck, made all the brighter in taste and appearance.

Green eggs and duck

It must be said that I do not own this plate.

Here’s a thing I dreamed up on the bus and proceeded to chow down on: warm chicken, orange pepper, soft cheese (Camembert?) and green mustard in a lettuce wrap. Perfect picnic fare this.

Green chicken lettuce wrap


Great Word: snicker

snicker — give a smothered or half-suppressed laugh; snigger.

ORIGIN imitative (: reproducing a natural sound).

My post-college best friend and I got to know each other because, like so many before him, he was drawn to my total lack of interest in just about everyone around me. (As we’ve discussed before, this is because I don’t like strangers.)

Back when I was employed in the US, I was temporarily assigned to the cubicle next to his. He quickly found himself trying to see what I was doing since, to hear him tell it, there was a steady stream of snickering coming from my side of the particle board. Whenever he was able to casually figure out what I was reading, he’d try to find the same article and see what was so damn funny. Most of the time, he couldn’t understand what was so entertaining in the A-section of the New York Times but he marveled at my consistent amusement.

A perfect example of something from the NYT that makes me snicker.

This pic and its caption is a perfect example of something from the NYT that makes me snicker.

Once we got to know each other better, he learned that the mystery of my mirth is that I find the funny in everything, a variation on that all-time great whistling anthem. (C’mon! It’s been ages since I mentioned the Python boys!)


Avocado madness!

Many of the places where I buy food stuffs are bursting with à point avocados, perfectly ripe specimens which demand immediate consumption. I am quick to oblige them. Here are two I’ve eaten recently.

chicken artichoke avocado

Warm chicken with Dijon dressing, fried artichoke stem chips, shallots and avocado on a tortilla.


Beefheart tomato guacamole with green onions, cilantro and lemon (didn’t have any lime) which I also ate with tortillas.


Word Mystery: egg / huevo / oeuf

Every Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages I speak.

The way my mind works, I think of a concept and then start extrapolating from there, considering and sorting all my associations with the thing and turning those ideas around and around in my head, making connections or setting some things aside for later reclassification. It’s like there’s an infinitely cross-referenced card catalog in my brain, or maybe one of those crazy-person conspiracy boards you see in movies.

How crazy is it that they're using a manifestation of mental illness to promote a TV show? (Homeland's back on Sept. 29!)

How inappropriate is it that they’re using a manifestation of mental illness to promote a TV show? (Homeland‘s back on Sept. 29!)

One of the last steps I get to is the actual name of the thing since I deal primarily in Platonic ideals. That’s when I begin to pull up all the different names I have for the same thing, which is when I hit on a Word Mystery. Thinking about those damned rabbits, I was forced to also think about chickens and something that I’ll write about tomorrow got me thinking about eggs… so, let’s get cracking.

EN → egg — an oval or round object laid by a female bird, reptile, fish, or invertebrate, usually containing a developing embryo. The eggs of birds are enclosed in a chalky shell, while those of reptiles are in a leathery membrane. ORIGIN Middle English (superseding earlier ey, from Old English ǣg): from Old Norse.

ES huevoCuerpo redondeado, de tamaño y dureza variables, que producen las hembras de las aves o de otras especies animales, y que contiene el germen del embrión y las sustancias destinadas a su nutrición durante la incubación. [Rounded structure, of variable sizes and hardnesses, which are produced by female birds and other species, which contain the germ of the embryo and the substances necessary to sustain them during incubation.] ORIGIN Latin ŏvum (« egg »).

FR oeufChose arrondie à enveloppe dure que produisent les femelles des oiseaux et qui contient des substances nutritives (de couleur jaune) entourées d’une gélatine protectrice (de couleur transparente). [Round thing enveloped in a hard casing which is produced by female birds and which contains nutritive substances (yellow-colored) surrounded by a (transparent) gelatinous protection. ORIGIN 12th cent. Latin ŏvum.

I cry foul (fowl?) today, as I can’t figure how huevo and oeuf came from the exact same word and yet evolved so differently. I’m also annoyed that despite appearing like a Word Mystery (they look totally different!) they don’t actually have unique origins. Grumble. This week’s winner is English because the other two didn’t play nice.

Pop quiz, hotshot!

Test your mettle on conspiracy board knowledge. I got 9 out of 13.


New obsession: shallots

Is this a thing? Do other people become weirdly obsessed with bulb vegetables? They don’t even really look that appetizing.

shallots 1

And yet, I can’t get enough of the little oniony garlicy hybrids. I’m worried about what effect this kind of consumption is having on my breath, but I can’t stop myself. A couple times a week, I cook up a batch and then have them on hand to add to a regular salad or on top of soup. My favorite though, is adding them to my (mayo-free) chicken salad.

Le cul’s chicken salad:

  1. Blend a little bit of olive oil with a good quality mustard, salt, pepper and parsley.
  2. Shred warm cooked chicken and add to mixture.
  3. Sprinkle with crunchy shallots.

    shallots 2

    The shallots look a bit like bacon but, sadly, they are not bacon. Mmmm, bacon.