To the attention of the shopkeeper who has repeatedly been trying to shortchange me during my lunch pause:

Sir,

Either you are in good faith, and truly unable to count up to 20 euros without getting it wrong more than 60% of the time.
In which case, I would strongly advise for a career change.

Or…

You are just another average money-grubbing lowlife trying to improve his profits and survive in the dog-eat-dog world of small businesses by less than commandable means.
And I would then have to question the wisdom of running such a trade across the street from one of Paris’ major universities, specializing in Science and Mathematics.

If anything, I feel a bit insulted.

A while back, I posted about finding some specific ingredients in Paris (mainly Japanese but also Thai and generally all sorts of non-French food) without having to pay for overseas shipping each time.

Following some kind readers’ suggestions and with a bit additional exploration, I have since resolved all my culinary woes. I figured I’d post a quick recap and a few extra advice for the sake of past and future seekers of exotic food in Paris:

First off: the bestest, cheaperest, fresh tofu, along with countless other goodies (can you believe they even had konnyaku!?!) was found at Supermarket Paris Store on Avenue d’Ivry (about 10 minutes from Place d’Italie, on the left side), thanks to Chrys, whom we shall dearly miss now that she has relocated…

Unlike most other Asian stores in the area (Tang Frères etc.), this one stocks up a fairly consequent aisle of typically Japanese products.
Of course they also carry the usual south-east asian fare, though their curry paste didn’t turn out all that convincing to my humble curry-loving tastebuds (their coconut paste: not at all). But these are much easier to find anywhere else in the neighbourhood… I still want to find some of this mucho combiniente cononut powder (same taste, much lighter to carry around), but the canned stuff is available everywhere… On my next trip, I might even try some of their kimchee (kimchee ramen… yay!).

My mum always told me that when you have nothing nice to say, you should keep your mouth shut.

Obviously my mum has never heard of blogging.

I was really looking forward to hearing Bumcello live. I have loved many of their electro-loungy-hip-hop productions of the past few years.

Seeing the ‘acoustic’ mention on the bill when we got there was a big tip-off: when your band is a two-people act and so much of your music relies on sampling and overdubbing, pulling a proper live show would already be enough of a challenge. But choosing to strip it down to a couple drums, a cello and two lo-tech samplers while mostly improvising outside of your usual repertoire… is taking a huge leap of faith in your own live performer abilities.

Something they did, unfortunately to very mitigated results.

It may be the “most famous avenue in the world” (at least outside of the single-digit-as-name category), but trust me: whether visiting or residing, you have no business venturing anywhere near the Champs Elysées.

Of my previous residing years, I don’t remember ever setting a foot there in broad daylight. Even our recurrent late-night excursions to some of the ridiculously haughty Parisian nightclubs that seemed to flourish in the area were never an excuse to dally around. And neither should they be to you, unless you are a bored teenager making it your ambition to crash through as many bitchy door policies and crappy discopop tunes as humanly bearable in one night.

By day, it is an endless sea of tourists walking the avenue in either direction, past the alignment of prominent international luxury brand boutiques and much-less-prominent but no less expensive greasy food stalls. Shopping-wise, nothing you won’t get in a dozen other neighbourhoods or department stores in the city, and about as typically Parisian a sight as the Ku’damm, Omotesando or a dozen other similarly lined high-end avenues in the world. In fact, I am quite positive you will see less Japanese walking down Tokyo’s version of the Champs Elysées.

But it’s not all tourists and tourist traps.

Oh boy. What did I get myself into…
Gotta stop taking on huge epics that bore even myself to tears, halfway through realisation.
Not only am I no longer finding the motivation to write the (otherwise entirely planned out) remaining paragraphs of this post, but it will be poisoning my every thought and inspiration until I get done with it.
Here goes: the second of three parts in our increasingly-inaccurately-named diptych on French society, laws and politics:

Freedom of Expression in France (cont.)

As seen previously, you are free to express yourself in France, as long as you are neither a holocaust-denier nor advocating antisemitism, racial hatred or homophobic positions. Incidentally, a separate text also restricts your right to openly question recreational drugs laws (“presenting drugs under a positive light”). These are a lot of restrictions on what some think should be the unfettered right of people to freely express their views. The more 1st amendment-conscious US readers among you might even be appalled by the practice. Although you better make sure beforehand that you do not live in a country where many have once dubbed it “unpatriotic”, “treacherous” and therefore a crime, not to stand behind their leader… Dissent in times of “war” is just as much a part of freedom of speech as the right to express your twisted hatred for one group of people or another.

  • In Paris, Tokyo Lamen (40, rue Ste Anne, near Opera) looks and tastes considerably more like the real thing than the somewhat overrated Higuma (a block up in the same street).
  • Ramen and gyozas get two thumbs up, yakisoba wasn’t that convincing… but then again: who orders yakisoba in a ramen-ya? (an idiot, that’s who).
  • When experimenting with a new ramen place, always order the miso ramen: less chances for anything to go wrong than shoyu or other more delicate ramens (says Saeko).

Picture CIMG1168.JPG … something about serving it cold while listening to 100 Watts of bass-heavy electroclash?

Guess what the French Post finally delivered to my doorstep this morning (don’t ever use their “48 hour” delivery service if you fancy seeing your stuff in less than two weeks)…

How ironic my brand new speakers should arrive on the morning following one of my dear neighbour’s bi-weekly all-nighter.

9:30 am couldn’t be too early to run a full sound-test, now could it?