Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-bicycles-courtyard

Bicycles in a Parisian courtyard. © Paris Update

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Stick up for science
> The Paris March for Science begins at 1pm at the Jardin des Plantes (Place Valhubert), April 22.

Silent films from Switzerland?
> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, April 20-May 2.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, April 19-29.

Photo walk
> Eight Paris galleries hold special photography shows and events for Parcours Fotofever. Various locations, Paris, through May 1.

Photo shows galore
> Le Mois de la Photo has been moved from autumn to spring, with 96 exhibitions taking place all over the greater Paris area. See Web site for locations and dates.

Art videos
> The theme of this year’s Videobox Festival is “noise and movement.” Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 27-29.

Take home a winemaker
> Winemakers from Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux come to Paris to offer tastings of their products in wine bars and private homes for the event J’Irai Déguster chez Vous. Various venues, Paris, April 20-22.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Bedos’s Monsieur & Madame Adelman preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 21.

Polaroid pix
> The “Expolaroid” exhibition features Polaroid images by nine artists. La Maison des Ensembles, Paris, through April 25.

Binge-watching
> Festival Séries Mania shows TV series from around the world and holds debates, conferences and special guests like Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife,” all for free. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 23.

Travel yarns
> Travel fanatics get together at the Paris Travelers Festival to swap tales of their adventures. FIAP, Paris, April 22-23.

Street art indoors

ParisUpdate-UrbanArtFair-Felipe-Pantone-2
The gallery Art in the Game will be showing works by Felipe Pantone at the Urban Art Fair.> Some 30 galleries show street art at the Urban Art Fair. Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 20-23.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.

Before and after ecological disaster
> The Chic Planète festival presents two types of films, those celebrating the bounty of the earth and science-fiction views of what will happen after an ecopalypse. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 13.

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Hot Topics - C'est ironique !

 

Food for Thought

paris butcher shop

Next time you're at the meat counter, see if your butcher knows how to count.

Consider this conversation I had with the clerk at a lunch counter on Boulevard Malesherbes last week: “I’ll have the sandwich-soft drink-dessert ...

paris butcher shop

Next time you're at the meat counter, see if your butcher knows how to count.

Consider this conversation I had with the clerk at a lunch counter on Boulevard Malesherbes last week:

“I’ll have the sandwich-soft drink-dessert menu, please.”

“What kind of sandwich would you like?”

“Spicy chicken, please.”

(About 12 seconds elapse while he wraps up the sandwich.)

“Do you want something to drink with that?”

“Yes, I’ll have a Perrier and an apple crumble.”

(About 6 seconds elapse while he gets a Perrier out of the refrigerator.)

“And did you want a dessert?”

Am I the only one to notice this? Maybe it’s universal, but I have been experiencing this phenomenon in Paris for years: a person selling food behind a counter (as opposed to waiting tables) cannot be expected to handle more than one bit of information at once.

So here’s a little game you can play to have fun with Parisian food merchants. It’s called “Une Chose à la Fois” – “One Thing at a Time.” There’s only one rule: whenever you want more than one item, order in groups of two. For example, if you go to the butcher’s shop for a chicken, a half-kilo of ground beef and six lamb chops, place your order like this: “I’d like a chicken and a half-kilo of ground beef, please.” The butcher will prepare the chicken and ask, “Anything else?” Then you say, “Yes, I’d like a half-kilo of ground beef and six lamb chops, please.” The butcher will prepare the ground beef and say, “Anything else?”

I swear it works for me every time. This must be why you can get a bacon sandwich in Paris but not a BLT. It’s probably also one of the underlying reasons for France’s low birthrate: all of those countermen and butchers and greengrocers go home at night and their spouses say, “Honey, let’s go to bed and have sex.”

Sometimes I wonder if the food sellers themselves realize that they’re doing this. But I don’t dare ask them to stop and think, because then I’d never get any food at all.

David Jaggard

Reader Laurel Zuckerman writes: "Thank you for the amusing (and accurate) observations about French butcher protocol; however I must point out one tiny error: France’s birthrate is not low. At 2.1, it tops Europe! It would seem that multitasking’s not the only way to get things done…"

Reader Jacques Bosser writes: "Rather funny column but wrong on one point: the reproduction rate in France is the second highest in Europe, just after so-Catholic Ireland. When a Frenchwoman wants some entertainment, she is shrewd. Instead of saying bluntly, “Let’s go to bed and have sex”, she uses a delayed strategy to avoid any rebuke. First, “Let’s go to bed,” then she knows she is in a better position, so to speak, to say, “Let’s have sex.” In fact, she doesn’t ask verbally; many other options – more subtle or more direct are possible. Ironic, isn’it?"

Reader Gary Lee Kraut writes: "David’s comments on single-minded merchants are amusing and true, but I think he chose the wrong end joke in saying that’s 'one of the underlying reasons for France’s low birthrate.' In fact, France has one of the highest birthrates in Europe."

Writer David Jaggard responds: "To take a quote from the Rosetta Stone, 'Stop trying to confuse me with facts!' My well-informed readers are right: after falling for years, France's birth rate starting recovering in the nineties and is now the second highest in the EU. I knew this when I set out to set up the joke, but decided to go with the 'low birthrate' gambit since France comes in 151st (out of 195 countries) in the UN's rankings, with a live-births-per-thousand-population rate of 12.2, well below the international average of 20.3. My source here is Wikipedia, in case anyone wants to lunge for the saltshaker. I figured there was no use trying to work all that into the article, and then the INSEE, France's national statistics institute, released the news this very week that the country's fertility rate had hit a 35-year high. The f***ers!"

Reader Michael Barker writes: "David Jaggard did not specify in advance which drink and which dessert he wanted to choose so it is hardly surprising that he was asked for his second and third choices. And why should a busy butcher handling several dozen clients in the day be expected to retain a triple order in his memory. Most waiters write down an order, butchers don’t and why should they they are preparing the goods, not passing them on to the kitchen.

"It was announced yesterday that the fecundity of the French is the highest in Europe. Hardly a ‘tiny error.’ You can get a BLT sandwich in Paris – at Monoprix for example – though I find them wanting somewhat.

"What a silly piece, there are more interesting/amusing observations to be made about living in Paris."

Click here for more C'est Ironique! columns.

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