Moving Up in the Kitchen

2016-06-11 10.14.39I now have a microwave!  And not just a micro-wave.  It’s a combination Microwave, convection oven (I have the same in Sacramento)  AND GRILL.

You heard me right – grill.

Thank God it came with an instruction book and the instruction book includes instructions in ENGLISH. (That is not always the case.  And trying to figure out instructions for an appliance written in French is not easy.)

It’s a reasonable size.  2016-06-11 10.14.29And comes with a glass turntable.
And a weird metal
stand and tray.  No more descriptions – just look at the photos.   I was chatting with an American about it – she said be careful.  They started a fire in theirs when they first started using it.  So I am a bit apprehensive.

2016-06-11 10.15.04I did make microwave popcorn immediately.  Yum.  Oops- Miam Miam!  All the stove top popcorn I tried here tasted stale.  So now a new world of food has opened up to me at Picard.  (It came in a weird flat box that popped up into a container…)

picard 2Did I ever mention Picard – Les Surgeles?  Frozen food stores.  They started in 1906 in Fontainebleau but I think they really got going in frozen food in the 70s.  Delicious.  Everything I have tried is delicious.  picardMany things can be cooked on the stove but most is made for microwaves.  And without one last year, I had to pass on many choices.  Which was sad because there is Picard store across the street from me!

Not now.  The world is my oyster.  Picard is my oyster – but I don’t like oysters… oh well.

French eating frozen food?  Yup.  Surprise.  I have been served Picard dishes at friends’ houses.  Et pourquoi pas?  The standards are high, the food beyond tasty.   Why don’t US firms copy Picard?



I continue to be amazed by the French economy… People don’t see the links between different sectors.  My French friend who is retired from the Department of Finance and was an attorney looked me straight in the eye and said the people who were striking were not in the tourism sector so the tourism decline didn’t impact them.  After a pause to compute that statement and be amazed, I said what about the hotels that don’t have clients and then don’t have income and then have to decide they don’t need new tables or chairs or beds and must just get by and so then the factories that manufacture those things don’t have orders and there is no work…   She looked a bit surprised.  Maybe they should teach less philosophy and more business economics…

Tourism is still on the decline!  Numbers went down last year after Charlie Hebdo.  And significantly after the Nov 13 attacks.  The strikes and the floods haven’t helped.  I just read today that tourism is down 15.5% from last year at this time – which was down from the year before because of Charlie Hebdo.  By country, British are down%, Italians 28% and Japanese 60%.

My American friend said it doesn’t matter to many of the French because their employment is guaranteed.  I don’t know how widespread that is outside of government, but I do know that one of the employer benefits of the Loi de Travail (that they are striking over) is to make it easier to lay off workers in an economic decline.  Is it the feudal mentality?  The Lord (not up in the sky – in the chateau) will provide?

Next Tuesday June 14 is set for a National Strike!  I have no idea what that will entail – except a lot of manifestations, lots of noise, flares, whistles, fog horns and maybe some burning tires.  Oh and last week some union strikers pelted one of the ministers with eggs.  Easy to toss from a far, sailing right over the heads of the security officials.   How old are these people???

But, yeah, I still love it here.

Les Greves Continuent

It’s Saturday and I heard the recycle trash trucks outside.  Hurrah.  The clatter and noise used to be harsh on my ears.  Now it is dulcet tones – a lyrical melody.  Of course, the sound of the regular trash truck is even more mellifluous now.  Why such a transformation?  Do I need my hearing checked?

No.  The trash guys joined the train and airline pilots and went on strike for a week.   Sometimes you find out things experientially.  When I came back home Monday, the trash was still out.  But then there was a HUGE crane in the middle of the street sA pile of rubbish bags is seen on the Grands boulevards in Paris during a strike of garbage collectors and sewer workers of the city of Pariso I figured the trucks just couldn’t get through.  It seemed odd though because Neuilly-sur-Seine is fanatical about cleaning.  The neighborhood yard sale was last weekend (do you recall the post last year? LINK).  And Sunday night the street cleaning team –truck and two guys walking with hoses on the sidewalks) was going down the street cleaning up after the event.  On a Sunday!  So when the trash remained, it was odd.  But Tuesday on my way out I saw trash out on every corner on every street.  More was going on than a crane!

STRIKE.  Why? I don’t know.  But they decided not to pick up trash for a week.  The government officials scrambled.  I heard they were hiring private companies. But then, of course, there were strikers blocking the entrance to the dumps.  <Insert Gaellic shrug here>

2016-06-10 12.22.19By Friday Neuilly at least got its act together and regular trash was picked up.  And moments ago the recycling was too.

And last Monday I was also caught up in it a bit…   I got a news alert on my phone that railway workers had stormed Montparnasse train station. Rolling eyes. Ok fine I wasn’t going there.  But I did have to talk to the Thalys train people at Le Gare Du Nord.  Thalys is a high speed train that runs between France, Belgium and the Netherlands.  And maybe Germany…  But it’s separate from the SNCF (France) and so was not supposed to be affected by these strikes.  Still, I had some questions.  So I hopped on the metro.  The metro car is noisy- singing, whistles and fog horns.  Puzzling – but the big football games are coming…   We stop at Gare de l’Est before Gare du Nord.  And all these boisterous people get off and now I see the flags unfurling.  SUD – one of the railway unions.  These people – and a lot of them – were massing on the platform to march through the train station.  I had seen the same at Gare de Lyon last week.  Happy to see they were not going on to my destination.  But when I get to Gare du Nord, I see battalions of police.  Ok, maybe not battalion which is apparently 3 or more companies in an army unit…  But MANY.  And police trucks parked down several different streets.  I wanted to tell them that the strikers got off at the last stop but figured they would discover that soon enough.