Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 2.7: Laundry Day!

I had heard that there was an organ concert at St-Sulpice every week after Sunday mass, so I went over there around 11:30 and watched the second half of mass (it's always interesting to see different religious observances, and a Sunday mass in French is quite elaborate, with candle lighting, censing, and sung prayers).  Sure enough, in addition to the organ music during the mass, afterwards there was a complete organ recital (called an audition), by a guest organist from Québec of all places.  I really enjoyed it and will try to go back again before I leave France.

I went out to lunch afterwards and had my only really disappointing meal so far during my stay.  I went to Bistrot d'Henri, which I think is the sister restaurant of Le Mâchot d'Henri, one block over (where I had dinner on Friday night) -- a lot of the menu items were the same.  I ordered crab bisque and the quenelles, which seemed to translate as fish dumplings -- I'd tried to order those on Friday but they were out.  The bisque was... okay.  Not especially crabby, and it didn't have that rich sherry flavor that I usually associate with bisque, but it was creamy and rich.  Tasty, not great.  There were small croutons of toasted bread, which would have been good but there were about 50 of them and it was just too high of a bread-to-soup ratio.  The small slices of tomato garnish were odd, too.

The quenelles (two long cylindrical "dumplings") had to be one of the most bland things I've ever tasted.  I couldn't detect any fish flavor, or really any flavor at all, and the texture was... I don't know, weird.  Extremely smooth, but not really creamy, just sort of spongy, maybe?  And it was in a brown sauce that tasted pretty much like the crab bisque but had even less flavor.  The rice was just rice.  The picture is blurry but honestly the food seemed kind of blurry, so it looks more or less the way it tasted to me.  I managed to eat most of one quenelle and then gave up.  They asked if anything was wrong, but I didn't have the heart (or sufficient knowledge of French) to say it was bland, so I just smiled and said I was plein (full).

After lunch, I went back to the studio to collect my laundry, and made my way to the laverie near the marché St-Germain. Yet another adventure to be had!  I had to ask somebody how the soap dispenser worked (you had to pay at a different, central machine, and enter the red number that was posted on the soap machine, and then the soap came out in a packet of two tablets).  Based on that, I figured out the washing machine (you put in your clothes, set the temperature (I just did one load in cold water), put in the soap tablet (another thing I had to ask somebody about, though later I found the sign that explained it), and pay centrally, entering the number of the washing machine to start it.  I didn't have a lot of change but the machine took a 5 Euro bill.

There were only four seats in the laundromat --it wasn't very crowded, but two people were sitting in two of the seats, and one woman was sitting on a third seat with her feet up on the fourth one, watching a video on her ipad.  So I sat outside on the curb for a while.  Eventually the machine finished, and now it was time to figure out the dryer.  Transferring the clothes was nontrivial (there weren't any wheeled carts, and I thought there were two large waterproof bags at one point, but it turned out those belonged to somebody who had brought them along), so I had to use the shopping bags that I had carried the clothes in.  But the machine wasn't too complicated -- put in the clothes in, pay centrally, enter the number.  Except for the fact that the machine takes Euro notes sauf sêchage -- except for drying!  So I wandered around the neighborhood for a little while, and eventually went into a bakery, bought a brioche au chocolat and a drink, and got change that way.  They gave me a few Euros and a 5E note in change, which I asked them to break into coins -- good thing, because the dryer needed a second cycle.  (Turned out your 1,20E payment was good for ten minutes of drying time.)  Some things were still a bit damp after the second cycle, but I just carried everything home at that point and hung up the damp items.

Adventure accomplished!

Dinner was much better than lunch, on account of I made it myself.  Steak (sirloin or faux-filet) with red wine garlic sauce, pain naturel, and green salad.  No dessert -- I figured between the brioche and the fact that Caroline arrives today, I would need to save on calories!

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