Archive for December 21, 2010

Ah, the Gallic Shrug

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Dear Chef  Bourdain;

Based on my extensive research – and by that I mean I read “Kitchen Confidential” and “Medium Raw“; you spent time in France in your youth, but not as an adult. Too busy scoring smack and grilling meat, I gather. But no doubt recently you have, given all your “No Reservations” episodes in France. Some of my favorites, by the way, and I’m by no means a Fraco-phile. So you’ll know what I mean when I say Gallic indifference to someone else’s inconvenience can be infuriating.

There’s a place near my house in Venice that when I refer to it I call “The French”. Though in fact it’s really The French Market and Cafe. But whatever, the point is they serve good breakfasts and have a little market with French imports in it. I checked there for some of the weirder stuff I need for this project and basically struck out – what they’ve got is either pre-prepared, or the kind of stuff I can find at any market around here.

But! Oh joy! I stopped in the other morning for coffee and a croissant on the way to work and discovered they had boudin noir, which previously they didn’t.  I didn’t want to take what’s basically congealed blood with me to work, though, so I didn’t get it on the spot. For whatever damn French socialist reason though, they were closed at 5PM when I stopped by on the way home. So today – I went back. Fuck it, I’ll just throw it in the fridge at work to thaw, and serve boudin noir aux pommes for dinner tonight.

Nope. Frozen packet of congealed blood in hand, I went to the register. A gaggle of people stood around it, confused. There’s a sign that says “NO CREDIT CARDS”. The lady behind the register was utterly unruffled – no doubt due to her utter lack of concern. There was mad buzzing from the circle of people though – they were stymied. They had already got their coffee and pastries from the self-serve, but had no means to pay.

“Will you take a check?” asked one lady.

The woman behind the counter did it, then. The Gallic Shrug. The “sounds like you’ve got a problem” shrug. The shrug that causes all responsibility to bounce off like low caliber rounds off the front glacis of an Abrams battle tank. So invulnerable to responsibility are French merchants, that it’s well known that Tony Stark keeps a “Hulkbuster” Frenchman handy to shrug if the Hulk goes on another rampage. BOOM. Stopped cold.

So she shrugs and says, “No no no.” As if taking a check was some sort of mad request, like, “I’ve got a handful of Africanized bees. I’ll give them to you in exchange for coffee?”

Chef, I wish I was capable of not giving a shit like French shopkeepers are. It’s amazing. It would be so handy in business meetings, or when my girlfriend asks me to take out the trash. Just shrug. “No no no.”  And that’s the end of it.

So no blood sausage for me, until I go and get some cash first or something.

Guess I’ve got a problem, non?


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