Snapshots of Lutetia – Gare de l’Est

The Gare de l'Est

In Paris, different stations, with telling names, connect it to the rest of France. So, for me, obviously, eastbound it was, when I took the TGV for a little business trip to a small German town, just across the border from Strasbourg. After transforming my e-ticket into a real one, in one of the very smart ticketmachines of SNCF, I strolled outside and found that this station was actually quite beautiful. Because the area in front of it has only restricted access, and it was early in the morning, I could take a relatively empty-of-people snapshot.

The Omnivore’s Top 100 – A Food Game

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros; to a Dutchman a typical English Breakfast comes very close
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho

13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart; but I liked the one’s at Shake Shack best!
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper; I think in The Netherlands these are sold as Madame Jeannettes and it is unadvisable to eat those raw, even if you’re used to it!
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar; although I prefer Scottish Whisky to accompany my Cubans
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat; I like the Indonesian style Satay Kambing
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal

44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth €80/£60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie, in the Netherlands we have a brand called Dr Oetker, which has pies like this…
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky; in The Netherlands, just as in France, called Mikado
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam; although it is called different (smac) in The Netherlands, I love the Monty Python song about it
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

Oh, my score? 36 items to go (thus, 64 eaten) and nothing I wouldn’t
eat. I am a little disappointed in myself, but also have a nice new
challenge. Thanks Andrew and Clotilde.

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Snapshots of Lutetia – Les Invalides

Horses and angels

Originally a war vetaran hospital and retirement home, Les Invalides has grown to become the major site in Paris on army history, while partially maintaining it’s old role. It is a beautiful complex of which the dome of the church stands out in grandeur. The courtyard roofcorners are decorated with horses and angels, pictured here.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Pont Bir Hakeim

Pont Bir Hakeim

The pont Bir Hakeim was originally named Pont de Passy, but renamed after the Second World war to honour the French soldiers that fought the battle of Bir Hakeim. It spans the river Seine to connect the 15th and 16th arrondissement, and rests in the middle on one end of the manmade Ile de Cygnes. On the other side of this Island of the Swans stands a copy of the statue of liberty, the famous gift of the French to the city of New York.

Work more to earn more will not be enough

Recently the French parliament passed laws to improve competitiveness of the country. One issue standing out was the 35 hour workweek. A recent experience with one of france’s courier services tells that working only 35 hours a week is only part of the problem.

Through work I had ordered a mobile phone. The phone company at one point sent it to me through Chronopost. Apparently, they tried to deliver it to my home address, but didn’t have ‘enough details’ to deliver the package. I was unaware of this happening on a certain Thursday, until I received a letter on the following Tuesday, in which Chronopost told me to contact them immediately, because they had the package in holding and would return it to the sender after seven days. No, there was no notification of a failed delivery left behind, so the earliest I knew that the package was on its way, was on Tuesdy. I phoned them the next day (when I found the letter after coming home from work, the service line was already closed) and told them I would come and get the package from their warehouse on Thursday. This was, of course, fine.

So out I went to the depot on Thursday, to find out that the package
had been returned to the sender that morning, because I hadn’t
contacted them and they couldn’t deliver it. The people in the depot
couldn’t help, of course, so the next morning (again, the service line
was closed for the day) I called to ask them to instead of returning
the phone to the sender, bring it to my place of work. This was not
possible, because it was not as the procedure was designed. I didn’t
come within seven days to collect the package, so it was returned to
the sender. Asking why they didn’t leave a not when they first tried to
deliver, why while I called to tell them when I would come by it was
ignore; it didn’t help. Yes, they had made some mistakes there, but
that was not their problem. When I asked why I was the one to solve the
problem they had created, there was just silence.

To me, this example illustrates that the competitiveness of some French
companies suffers not only from the 35 hour work week. That is just one
of the issues raised by an underlying problem: the unwillingness to
work and the lack of pride in doing what you do. A big contingent of
French employees hide behind silly rules and their rights, and feel
that if they have to be service oriented, or maybe give just a little
extra, that is not what they’re paid for and they would rather go on
strike than put in just a little bit of extra work.

The problem is not that I didn’t get the right service. In the end, I
have the mobile phone now and it ended up here, giving me antoher
couple of lines to fill my blog with. The problem for the French, and
it is likewise in other countries in Europe, is that this attitude will
bring the employees themselves in trouble. Countries like China and
India thrive not only on the fact that they have relatively cheap
labour, but also on the fact that the people need to work to earn a
living. Therefore, people work harder and get things done. This will
threaten the employability of Europeans. And the threat obviously
doesn’t come from the foreigners, but from our own lack of willingness
to work hard.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Tour de France

Almost there

Every year, the finish of the Tour de France is at the Champs Elysees. The racers run a couple of rounds to get ready for the grand finale. On a very suny sunday afternoon, it was of course the thing to do for us. So we stood at the far end turn, and waited for the riders to come by about 8 times. A big crowd turned up and it was exactly what you can expect of watching a big event in warm weather: good atmosphere, cheering and an occasional yelling at the police to get out of the way because they were blocking the view.