Thursday, October 2, 2014

Days 5.3-5.4: The Long March

Yesterday (Wednesday), I met a former student (Amy) at Le Mâchon d'Henri for lunch.  The food and the company were both awesome!  I had the roast chicken in orange sauce with mashed potatoes and a cheese plate (which was way more of three kinds of cheese than two people could eat -- all yummy, though!)

Later in the afternoon, I went over to Paris Dauphine to meet with their president.  That was an especially interesting conversation, because Paris Dauphine is really unique among French universities in that it is selective like the "grands écoles" but also a research university.  How they "got there from here" was the main focus of our conversation.  The president (Laurent Batsch) actually wrote a book about it ("Paris-Dauphine: Quand l'Université fait École") and gave me a signed copy, which I am looking forward to reading, although it will fully stretch my French abilities!

Afterwards, I decided to walk to the Arc de Triomphe, since it didn't seem that far.  Actually it was farther than it seemed, but once I had made it there, I decided I really should walk down the Champs-Élysées, which I hadn't done yet -- and that is always farther than one thinks it will be.  Still, after I had gotten to the far end, I thought, well, I may as well just continue through the Tuileries to the Louvre -- and that was much farther than I remembered it to be!  In the end, though, I walked nearly 4 miles from Paris Dauphine to my apartment.  Whew!  It was a lovely night for it, though, and I'm very glad that I had that adventure.  

I ended up eating at a cafe very close to my apartment, but in a direction I hadn't walked before (east).  I sat outside and had escargots and pizza, thoug there was either something wrong with the waiter's hearing or the walk had somehow made my French speaking muscles tired.  First he apparently interpreted "six escargots" as "Caesar salad" and brought me a salad instead of snails.  (I could not possibly have eaten it in any case -- it had a gargantuan "American-sized" quantity of dressing on it, nearly as much dressing as lettuce!)  He was very polite about the mistake, though, and eventually brought me the snails (which were delicious, garlic-parsley-buttery, and served with crusty bread, as snails should be).  I decided not to bother correcting the second error, which is that he brought me the entirely wrong pizza.  I ordered "pizza quatre fromages" (which is really not that hard to say, so I don't think I said it wrong), and this is what I got:

Ham, onions, arugula, and balsamic.  One cheese, as far as I could tell.  It was yummy, though.  I do feel that I must again remark that when I talk about American eating habits with French people, they all comment on how large our serving sizes are -- but whenever I eat at a French restaurant, a meal for one is the size of this pizza.  Still can't figure out how that works for them -- you definitely do not see an awful lot of heavy French people (though they do exist!)

Today I went to a "counter bakery" restaurant nearby and had a simple formule express - espresso and a pain au chocolat.  Yum, and much cheaper than the bistros I've been having breakfast at.  

I lingered there for a while, working a little and reading a little, then walked down to Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, where I gave a talk in their seminar series.  Very enjoyable -- attentive audience, good conversations afterwards.  On the way back, I stopped at a store near campus where I was finally able to buy some gifts to bring back home, then went to a nearby counter-service Turkish place and had a gyro-style sandwich (though I think the meat was a mix of lamb and turkey) with the best fries I've had in Paris.

Afterwards I found the shop where Shakespeare & Co. buys books, and tried to sell back some of my books.  In retrospect, I wish I had just turned down their offer and left the books in some public place for an American tourist to maybe find -- of the six books I brought, he was only willing to pay for four (though said he'd take the other two and put them on the free table), and only offered me 1 euro each for those books.  Three of the books were brand new, and had all been on the NYT top-ten book lists in the last year -- these aren't some junky old books.  And one of the books was not brand new, but I had just bought it from them for 5 euros, so surely they should have been willing to give me half of that?  (Though he didn't look inside the book to see that it had been bought from them.)  Anyway, I really didn't feel like carrying them home, and didn't have a better plan ready, so I took the four crummy euros and felt a bit ripped off.  Oh, well.  At least I don't have to carry them or find a way to abandon them where they might find a home.

Later in the afternoon, I went back over to Paris Dauphine, where Alexis had offered to introduce me to a friend/colleague (same general research area) who is the Rector (effectively equivalent to an American or French university president) at Istanbul Bilgi University.  That was a very interesting conversation, because his path into the presidency was completely different from anybody else I've talked to.

When I got back (via Metro) to my neighborhood, I went back to Sushi House where I'd eaten a few weeks ago and had a bento box (soup, salad, sashimi, sushi, maki, and gyoza) -- a nice "sampler platter" and just what I was in the mood for.  Then I went to Amorino (yes, again!!) and this time was completely free to choose what I would -- which was mango, speculoos, and (surprisingly) orzo.  It's hard to describe the orzo flavor -- the closest I can come is the barley tea that is often served at Korean restaurant.  It's sort of a nutty, grainy flavor -- but of course sweetened to become an ice cream.  It sounds weird but is surprisingly mellow and satisfying.

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