Today I can announce I have officially QUARANTINED! I’m sure you’ve all already heard the “useless fact” repeated ad nauseum since the pandemic started, but “quarantine” actually comes from the Venetian word “quarantena”, meaning “forty days”, designating the period that all ships were isolated during the Black Plague of the 14th century before passengers and crew could go ashore.
I feel like I’m pretty good at this whole confinement routine, with my 40 days of experience. However it seems like the rest of Paris is so distracted with the discussions about how we’re all going to start “deconfining” starting May 11th, that they think we’re already there. Looking out my window I can see all of the benches in the square are full, a few people sunning themselves, kids playing, groups of four and five walking together without masks. For once, the French are probably the only ones NOT protesting like fevered zombies for their “liberation”, they’re simply ignoring the rules in such large numbers it seems impossible for the police to fine them all. Let’s hope the 14-days-in-a-row decline of intensive care Covid-19 patients in French hospitals continues!
Welcome to My Life (Well, sans the Perfect Accent)
If you’re one of the many Secrets of Paris readers who live a bilingual life, you’ll totally identify with Paul Taylor’s standup comedy show, #FRANGLAIS. He’s a Brit married to a Frenchie living in Paris and is cursed with a perfect French accent. You’ll have to watch to find out why (he goes back and forth between French and English, and both are subtitled). You can watch the entire show on his YouTube playlist or browse clips by topic.
Truffaut – L’Original! – on Netflix Starting Friday
Yesterday I took an excursion to the Truffaut gardening center, but of course the most famous Truffaut is the film director François Truffaut, “Prince de la Nouvelle Vague” of French cinema in the 1960s. In partnership with the French cinemas MK2, Netflix will be showing a dozen of Truffaut’s classics, including Les Quatre Cents Coups, Jules et Jim, Baisers Volés, Fahrenheit 451, and Le Dernier Métro. Note that these films may only be available on Netflix in France. The catalogue of films available changes depending on which country you’re in (as many of us here in France discovered when trying to find a film or the latest series only showing on Netflix in the US). In the meantime, enjoy this clip of the eternally lovely Jeanne Moreau singing in Jules et Jim:
Local Flour for my Vegan Cookies: My Baking Adventures Continue
I’ve read about the flour shortages, but the bakery on my square sells the local flour it uses, made by the Moulins Bourgeois in Verdelot, a small town in the Seine-et-Marne department of Ile de France, about an hour from Paris. I picked up a 1 kilo bag along with a loaf of their amazing Pain Baltique (sorry, no pic, ate it too fast, ha!), and it cost me €4.50. The bread loaf is €2, so the flour was only €2.50. When I looked surprised at the price (expecting it to cost more) the cashier explained it’s because it’s organic. “Oh, is that expensive?” Clearly I don’t buy much flour.
In any case, I used it to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies with the vegan butter I made last week. I’m a bit of a chocolate chip cookie addict, and usually I follow the traditional Toll House recipe, substituting ingredients when I can’t find them (almost never an issue anymore in Paris) or can’t eat them (eggs and dairy…complicated). The vegan butter turned out perfect, much better than any of the vegan butters (mostly margarine) I can find in Paris. The cookies were a bit too gooey for my taste, but that could be my measurement conversions (and ignoring my expert-baker-friend’s advice to “sift the flour”), but I still ate every single last one in less than 48 hours. Then I went for my first run since Day 35, jogging around the Bibliothèque with what seemed like hundreds of other runners on a sunny day. Not sure that it was long enough to burn off two dozen cookies, but it was still a good way to mark my official quarantine.
Now that I’ve documented every single day since the start of the lockdown 40 days ago, I’m going to take a little break for myself to make more cookies, pot up my new plants, and maybe finish a book or two, but I’ll be back for Day 45 when the French Prime Minister presents the government’s “deconfinement strategy” in the National Assembly.
And what will all of you be doing to mark your 40th day in style, whenever that day comes for you? Start dreaming, but stay safe! – Heather