I have been in school for two weeks now. The first week my brother, sister-in-law and my sister were here. We got to have some good meals together and go to le Marche aux Puces (market of the Fleas) and that was really fun. They were real troopers for, well trooping through the market on a cold gray day without any sleep. I had some major scores there. I found this amazing passimerie shop where I bought the most gorgeous quatrefoil thingies to go on the end of a chair or pillow or sofa. I am planning on putting them on my piano bench if it all looks good when I get home. At the same tiny shop, I also bought a really pretty tassel from which I’ll hang a key, and then stick it in the keyhole on one of my chests at home. They are really beautiful and I am so happy I spent my entire life savings on them. I hope the dogs appreciate it when they decide to chew them up. Next I bought a delicate pot de crÃ¨me set that has tiny hand painted flowers all over it. I am obviously going to have to hand carry it home because the shop lady was a little skimpy on the bubble wrap. Last, well this was actually the first thing I bought but you don’t really know that, I found a vintage Chanel choker, complete with little Swarovski CCs. If you love sparkles and Chanel, you will love this. I am not sure where I will wear it, but I will find a place, gosh darn it!
My apartment is really darling; I rented this exact one the first year. I am quite far from school, but it was the nicest one I could find online in my budget. It may be 5 flights up, and I am finally able to make the climb without collapsing as soon as I open la porte, but I wanted the tall windows, flowing curtains, hard wood floors, and wrought iron outside the windows. But three years have not been kind to these 33 square meters. I don’t think the owners have put one Euro into any repairs and it is a little shop worn.
Here it is nestled in an eggshell that has been purified and filled with mousse, then topped with the chocolate caviar. It is nestled on a pile of sugar that has been shaken with gold dust. It was quite stunning. And delicious.
Speaking of shop worn, I don’t want to get all political here, but I feel Paris is a little shop worn as well. I really noticed it this year and I am not sure why. I think Paris is shooting itself in la pied. She is like a beautiful dress that you wear time and time again, but slowly it begins to be tattered, and it breaks your heart. The taxes here are so incredibly high that many of the wealthy people have left and a lot of foreigners are buying up the property. They do not have the same tax considerations as citizens. The people who could pay the most are no longer here to pay. So the average citizen pays so much, it is hard to get ahead. There are so many government programs and so many stupid laws about everything, so many regulations, that I feel people do not have even the motivation to progress. There is even a law that restaurants cannot serve melted ice cream and call it CrÃ¨me Anglaise (which Ina Garten does, by the way. She would be sent to the Bastille!) It is super hard to start a business, get something fixed ---just everything is overly complicated. The buildings need to be repaired and sand blasted. There needs to be more trash cans so people will throw their trash in, especially something their cigarette butts can go in instead of all over the sidewalks. They definitely need to have a NEW law or a campaign to get people to clean up their dog poo. I mean it is ridiculous and disgusting. At Le Cordon Bleu, one of the top cooking schools in the world, we do not even have gas burners. They cannot get it for some reason. We are crammed into three tiny locker rooms like sardines. We have a tiny locker for all of our things and up and down lockers. There are always a few people getting dressed at the same time right below me when I am trying to dress and I am sure I annoy them just as much as they annoy me. It would just never fly here. Some of the girls are really outspoken about it but I just try to go with the flow and not let it upset me. But on this blog, I will say it really is a shame that things at LCB are so stuck in time that the students are mad all the time. In the demonstration room, we are finally allowed to wear sweaters and scarves over our chef coats as the pastry chefs must keep it cold for the pastry and chocolate. It is hot where they are teaching by the ovens and freezing where we sit. The first year, we were not allowed to wear anything over our chef jacket and we all froze. Obviously, enough students have complained that they have changed that rule, thank goodness.
I forgot the cardinal rule of dehydrating myself on the first day. Before I went to class, I had several cups of coffee to keep me as nerve wracked as possible. About half way through the demonstration class, 3 hours long, nature started calling. And calling. I think I have told you that the chefs do not want people jumping up and down all the time, going to the bathroom. I can certainly understand their attitude on this, as it is very disruptive to have people coming in and out. So I held on, counting every second until an opportune time presented itself. When it was time to take photos, at last I had my chance. I stood up and you can guess what happened! Just a littleâ€¦ I quickly went to the bathroom and took off my undies and shoved them in my pocket. Later that day, when we were changing our clothes, I started to take off my pants when I remembered I was naked as the day I was born under my black and white checks! Thank goodness I caught myself before I totally grossed out all of the new people I had met! Needless to say, I wore my chef pants home that day.
You can say I was off to a good start.
Chef Nicolas Jordan
He was such a mean person at the beginning (and during intermediate) but evolved into one of the best chefs. Everyone was terrified of him. At first. Especially yours truly. He made us keep our standards sky high, out workspace impeccable and our clothes clean. He stressed planning, cleanliness, and order first, before even beginning to bake. He would say, walk into ze kitchen, know what you need to begin, get your tools out and ready, keep ze counter clear of anything but what you are using right then. So we stored our tools in the fridge or anywhere to we could keep them off the counter but get to them easily.
I absolutely agree with him. I am often amazed at how dirty and slovenly some chefs in our area look. They are not representing their craft well and it makes me wonder how dirty their kitchens are.