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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Sound French: The Film References

When I first moved to France, I was thrown blindly into a completely different pop culture.  I came from the culture where we quoted Jay & Silent bob (Not one French person I know gets it), Dude Where's My Car, references to flutes an inappropriate things along those lines.  Quotables are the basis of a good pop culture, and France, in her own glory, has her own quotes from films.

Mastering the quotes and watching the movies will assure that you will understand what someone means when, for example, you say something... you are contradicted, and then everyone in the room waves their right hand maniacally and shouts, "Cassséeeeeeee!!!!".

Here we go....

Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis - Dany Boon
A film that simply details a French from the south who is forced by his job at the Post Office to relocate to the North of France, specifically, in the region of Nord-pas-de-Calais, considered to be our version of the "Backwoods" in France.

From the disgusting habit of eating a stinky cheese smothered on bread for breakfast, to the incomprehensible French dialect... the
main character Philippe Abrams (Kad Merad) eventually settles into the city and makes friends with Antoine Balleuil (Dany Boon).

-"C’est pas compliqué de parler le ch’timi. On ne dit pas : « pardonnez-moi je n’ai pas bien saisi le sens de votre question », on dit : « Hein ? »."
-"C'est le Nord!"

Dîner de Cons - Francis Veber

En gros a film about a high-rolling French man who gets his kicks with his buddies by inviting the stupidest person he meets to a weekly dinner.  Whoever brings the most idiotic guest wins... until one day an idiot comes that is not so much as idiot as he thinks... 

Some really quite funny scenes (better in original French with subtitles if French isn't your strong point), some involving adding vinegar to wine in order to trick a tax inspector, an obsession with match stick creations...

-"Il a une belle tête du vainqueur" - Reference used when they go hunting for the "idiots".

"-Il s'appelle Juste Leblanc.
-Ah bon, il n'a pas de prénom?
-Je viens de vous le dire Juste Leblanc... Votre prénom c'est François, c'est juste? Eh bien lui c'est pareil, c'est Juste."

Les Visiteurs - Jean-Marie Poiré

Typical time travel, misplaced group of knights put in the 20th century.  A re-make was done by Americans, Just Visiting, which follows about the same plot-line.

-"Je suis Godefroy Amaury De Malfète, comte de Montmirail, d’Apromont et de Papimcourt, fils d’Aldebert de Malfète et de Thibaude de Montfaucon... Je suis ton aieul."

-Et on lui pèlera le jonc comme au bailli du Limousin !
Qu’on a fendu un beau matin.
Qu’on a pendu ! Avec ses tripes !"

Brice de Nice - James Huth
Jean du Jardin has become a household name since the Oscar's glorification of The Artist, but before Du Jardin was a grand actor, he as a comedian.  From Un Gars et Une Fille to the movie Brice de Nice, he was never really that serious.

Brice de Nice, is just that, a 30 year old surfer from Nice named Brice who is constantly hunting the perfect "wave".  However, he doesn't really KNOW how to surf since he lives in Nice where the waves are totally calm.  Travelling around and finally ending up in a competition for surfing, there are endless, and really strange, references and jokes.

While there is not a specific quoteable, the most important concept is to understand "Cassée", literally, "broken".  Brice de Nice constantly is able to basically pull out French versions of yo mama jokes, and when he wins, he swings his right arm from shoulder to crotch, in a cutting fashion, proving that you, indeed, have been "broken".

French people tend to do this everywhere, if you are proved wrong, "T'es cassé", if you are saying really stupid things, "cassé", Political pundants having a debate and one says something totally off-handed, "CASSE".

Voilà, that's the start to French culture.. of course there are more to come.  American movies still are popular, but often under French names (ie: le sixième sens, le Projet Blair Witch, SOS Phantpmes (ghostbusters), etc)


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Marché des Enfants Rouges

Thanks to a reference from a friend at my job- I found myself making the trek to the Filles du Calvaire metro stop for a Gastronomy adventure in Paris. Every large city has a public food market, Pikes place in Seattle, the Food Carts explosion in Portland... Paris was no exception as I soon discovered. Hidden off a decrepit street near the 3rd arrondissement in Paris, the marché is supposedly the oldest covered one in Paris if not the smallest. The best thing for a Saturday, we decided, to eat our way through the cultural goodness. Many stands are in the market, some selling the typical ingredients: fresh fruits, strong smelling fish, olive oils from the Southern regions. Not needing anything raw we opted to start our discovery with a farfella au poulet, or a sort of Morroccon stuffed pastry, a salted and yet sweet curried chicken meat stuffed into a soft pastry shell. As we snacked and shared we decided that Italian sounded promising as a decisive meal and we awaited our turn.

Already the Mangioitaliano had a load of great things on the menu- most of it variations of their home made pasta with a sauce. Bri ordered up an Osso Bucco with a home tagliatelle pasta, while I chose a simple pesto pasta. Sprinkling of fresh Parmesan and we were off... Amazingly a carafe of wine was very inexpensive at 9€ for 50cl- and we ate!

My pasta was an orecchiette, or those small eared pastas, tossed in what was most certainly a home made pesto, te tang and the red fruit wine quickly filled us as we munched down on the al dente homemade pasta.

There are other restaurants strewn about, Japanese, Marocaine, Sandwich Shop, African and some other little spots to takeaway.

A great Saturday to do, especially of museums are worn out and it's not quite nice enough for a Picnic in the Park. It's also nice to escape and eat around the works without even leaving Paris.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Morning Commute in Paris

Not necessarily the most fabulous nor glorious thing about living in the largest French metropolitan city, but something that- nonetheless- is inevitable. There's something oddly satisfying in the daily commute, either the bobbing mountains of heads, the endless relay of métro to bus to métro... the overwhelming whifts of human body odor, perfumes of every scent.

Mine is never dull, although most who come from large cities would disagree- I'm just not yet used to the hundreds of people trickling in and out of the public transportation; a sort of light hum and shuffle of the feet.  My morning commute starts with the 2 minute walk to my bus stop.

Some people aren't so lucky.. but I take a few steps from my small Parisien studio and start off on bus 39 direction Gare de Paris. Everyone stands idly about waiting for the bus, either it's a rainy morning and we are all huddling uncomfortably under the small glass cover, or it's a sunny day and those who smoke are flicking ashes and butts into the street.

Shuffle shuffle shuffle. Beep.

On the bus.  If I'm lucky I get a seat next to the window, if I'm sort of lucky I get to lean against the glass window and if I'm unlucky then I simply get a pole to grip on as the bus comes to startling halts and gos.

Step off at Duroc, head to the Métro.  From this point we are all somewhat awake, but still heading towards the metro as if we are on autodrive- you know- those times that you are in your car and you are suddenly home with no recollection of how you got there?

In the metro, usually some odd smell and body heat... they are not air-conditioned in France so normally we are all pressed against the doors, hoping for the fresh air to pass through the high windows.  The worst are the rush hours, people stuff into the cars impossibly fitting in until there is barely enough room to grip a bar or move.

Shuffle shuffle shuffle.

Leaving the metro with another group of individuals, mixed smells of shampoos, colognes, perfumes... we are all walking in sync heading down Boulevards, Rues..

I guess the morning commute is not Parisien, nor Lyonnais... nor New Yorkan or Portland(ish).  It's simply the fact of living in another large metropolitan city.
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