Paris Toujours and Tous les Jours
ALL CHOKED UP
I am a creature of habit and ritualism. For the 26th time, I celebrated my liberty on February 2nd by inviting a few of my closest friends to share artichokes with me.
February 2nd is National Crepe Day, World Play Your Ukulele Day, National River Day, National Bubble Gum Day, Number Day, National Catchers Day, Candlemas Day, National Hedgehog Day, National Working Naked Day (!), Groundhog Day, National Wear Red Day, National Give Kids a Smile Day, National Sled Dog Day, Marmot Day, National Tater Tot Day, Lung Leavin’ Day, World Wetlands Day, National Brown Dog Day, and for me…ARTICHOKE DAY. It all has to do with the artichokes I DIDN’T cook because of that fateful day February 2nd, 1997 when the edible thistle was the catalyst to singledom after 20 years of marriage. I never looked back, except to cook them up every year, as I did Friday night.
I’ve written about the event every year, too, so I won’t bore you with the same old story. If you go into our archives, or just Google my name and “artichokes,” you’ll likely find them.
This year, experimentally, I used a Nutribullet blender to make the vinaigrette for the artichokes, making it creamy, emulsifying the garlic cloves and making plenty of it.
We each had one whole big globe artichoke. Everyone said it was the best batch ever, but they say that every year. The recipe was my mother’s, Italian and New Orleans style. For all of you who wish to have your own Artichoke Day, here is the recipe:
GERTRUDE BEERMAN’S, AKA ADRIAN LEEDS’, ITALIAN ARTICHOKES
Prepare the artichokes: cut off the stem, chop off the top of the artichoke and trim the points of each leaf with scissors. Wash and place them in a big pot or roaster with a small amount of water in the bottom. Cover.
Steam: Steam them on medium heat at least 1 hour, more or less depending on the thickness of the leaves.
Meanwhile prepare the dressing*: 1/3 vinegar and spices: I use red, white, apple cider and balsamic vinegars, with salt, pepper, lots of oregano and tons of chopped or presses (or blended) garlic (never enough!) and 2/3 olive oil. Be heavy handed with the spices. Then, add olive oil. Shake or stir well or put it all in the blender and watch it work in seconds.
*Note: the dressing is to your taste…so be creative! Often a tad of sugar takes off the edge, but I avoid the sugar.
Final step: When the artichokes are steamed to perfection, drain off the water and pour the dressing over them while they’re hot, ensuring that the dressing is filling the leaves. Cover them to keep warm and then marinate them with the dressing as often as you can for as long as you can. I use a turkey baster to do the job. Eight hours is best. (Watch out—the delicious aroma will fill your home delightfully.)
Voila! They’re ready to serve and eat at room temperature. To eat them, take one leaf off at a time and with your teeth, scrape off the meat from the leaves. Discard the course part of the leaf. When you get to the heart, stop and remove the choke (the spiky fibers) and then savor the heart (it’s the best part). Note: you will need a bucket or bowl to catch the leaf remnants, two cloth napkins—one to protect your clothing and the other to wipe the oil off your hands…because it will be dripping down your arms if you’re doing it right!
THE TRAVELING OYSTER
Another one of my rituals involves friends who have also always attended the Artichoke Day dinner. They spend two winter months in Paris every year and every Sunday that they are here, they invite me for fresh, raw French oysters, hand shucked by Jeffrey, the oyster master and maven. I bring approximately the same things every time to compliment the oysters: white wine, some other yummy seafood and chocolate. He and Geraldine slice up an assortment of breads, serve up a fresh green salad and a few cheeses. We pig out and laugh a lot.
This Sunday, while on route to their apartment, I scored three beautiful fillets of smoked mackerel and cooked “bulots” (whelks) at the “poissonnerie” (fish market) in the Les Enfants Rouges market to add to the meal. The market is on rue de Bretagne and is the oldest covered market in Paris, dating back to 1615. Their apartment is situated just over the classic Paris restaurant, “Au Pied de Cochon” in Les Halles.
Every year, they rent an apartment for their two months, sometimes in the same apartment as before and sometimes not, depending on availability and desire. This is their first time in this particular apartment and in this location, about as central Paris as one can be in the 1st arrondissement. From the fifth floor, their views of the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection and the gardens at Les Halles are mesmerizingly beautiful.
Geraldine said that in the evening the Pinault Collection’s new restaurant, Halle aux Grains, goes seriously into action. It’s at the very top of the round Bourse building behind its big picture windows. From their own apartment windows, with binoculars, they can not only see all of the elegant diners and wait staff, but the chefs and kitchen staff feverishly working away to pump out the lavish meals. She’s never been so fascinated by her views from her Paris apartments as this time.
As she suggested, we’ve already made a date for me to come back one evening in the near future and I trust she will have her binoculars ready.
FINGERPRINTING, NOT FINGERPAINTING
Have you ever been fingerprinted? It was a first time for me. It wasn’t required for my application for French citizenship, but for my “Carte d’Agent Commercial” (real estate agency license), the government is asking for a U.S. “Casier Judiciaire” (criminal record) and fingerprints. You can do the fingerprints yourself, but you take a risk of not doing them correctly. We were sent to FingerprintsParis, who for a small fee, will happily provide you with the prints you need.
FingerprintsParis works out of “SpacesWorks” on rue du Louvre, right next to the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection—by sheer coincidence to my friends’ apartment steps away. While I was having my fingers printed, my friends were arriving, shopping and moving in—we might have crossed paths that same day without even knowing it! I hadn’t been to rue du Louvre in a while, ever since our Notaire moved from their location on that street to a big chic office building in the 7th. And the changes that have occurred on rue du Louvre, likely because of the new Bourse de Commerce, are acute. The street is barely recognizable from days past.
JAPAN IN PARIS
Of note along rue du Louvre is “Irasshai,” the new Japanese concept store for lovers of Japanese gastronomy with over 800 square meters of space spanning two floors, offering a cafeteria, café/bar, grocery store, “bistronomical” restaurant, and various Japanese culinary experiences from morning till night. Founded by Japan enthusiasts Xavier Marchand and Thierry Maincent, Irasshai showcases Japanese culture through food and drinks in a contemporary space open from 8 a.m. to midnight.
You don’t have to know that much about Japan to be sucked in to its grocery store, boasting of over 1,000 products, many of which are new to France. And with detailed labels in French and cooking tips, you can find goodies that beg to be tried. The Kissaten café serves matcha lattes and Japanese pastries, while the Shokudo cafeteria presents traditional teishoku sets, Japanese curry, soba noodles, and desserts. Irasshai also boasts of two terraces—one facing Bourse de Commerce and another along Rue Berger. There you go…a taste of Japan right in the heart of Paris!
Down the street is the newly renovated La Poste du Louvre, the French post office’s most emblematic site, and the one best known to the general public. Open 24/7, it has always been the landmark of this particular Parisian district.
A major renovation project, orchestrated by La Poste Immobilier, was launched with architect Dominique Perrault, to completely transform the building and open it up on all sides: around the historic post office, offices, shops, a crèche, a police station, social housing, a five-star hotel and a rooftop have taken their place.
In the 1870s, the Hôtel des Postes, which had been housed in the Hôtel d’Armenonville in central Paris near the Louvre since the 18th-century, was suffering from the cramped conditions of its premises, which were unsuited to the growth of the Mail. In the 19th century, the great Haussmann breakthroughs decisively modernized the center of Paris and created an architectural prototype worthy of this ambitious commission, the architect, the two Ministers of Public Works and Post and Telegraphs, and the administrators of La Poste, worked together to define a program that they refined over time to perfectly adapt the architecture to its function. Thus, between 1878 and the building’s delivery in 1888, the project was constantly evolving.
The newly renovated facility has been open to the public since 2021, but it took fingerprinting to get me back to the neighborhood and a chance to see it for myself…well worth a detour.
UNDER THE WIRE
I just got in under the wire having turned in my application for French citizenship with a B1 level in French this past fall. Whew!
Immigration attorney, Daniel Tostado, wrote to his clients, even though the new laws don’t affect a majority of them, except one aspect—the language level requirements:
For Naturalization: the requirement has been increased, from the intermediate level B1, to the advanced-intermediate B2. The caveat in French law is that for those who obtained a degree in France (in which the language of instruction is French, they don’t have to get a language test.) Also, for applications already submitted, there isn’t a retroactive effect of the law. (Yeah! That’s me!)
For the 10-year Carte de Résident: the requirement has been increased, from the advanced beginner level of A2, to the intermediate level B1. The caveat has been those over the age of 65 don’t have to take this test, and while the new law didn’t address this, I’m assuming that this rule will still hold. (For information, there is no age-exception for naturalization).
There is a new rule: to obtain a multi-year residency permit, the authorities are requiring proof of a level A2. So, for residency permits that are only one-year long, like the Visitor status, this doesn’t change. For statuses that can lead to multi-year cards after an initial one-year status, like Entrepreneur and VPF, this will be a factor. For the Talent Passport status and spouse of EU national residency permit, it’s unclear as of now if this rule will apply.
Here’s an overview of the various language levels (A1, A2, etc.) and what it amounts to.
Here’s the official website for the level of language to file for naturalization. It hasn’t been updated yet.
Here’s the official website for the language level for the 10-year card, and it also hasn’t been updated yet.
There are three ways to prove you have sufficient French:
• With a language test (such as TEF or TCF). These results are generally only valid for 2 years
• With a language diploma (DELF, DALF, etc.) These diplomas come after one has taken a course, and don’t expire
• With a French degree (undergraduate, masters) obtained in France where the language of instruction was French
For those who now need to take a language test, Daniel recommends scheduling it soon, as many are likely not yet aware they may need a test. However, a naturalization client just checked in with his test center, and because this is so new, the test center doesn’t yet offer a B2 level of test, only levels A2 and B1. Funny thing!
There are approximately 30 sites to take it at in Paris, but so as to not overwhelm you, here are three well-respected institutions:
For those of you needing immigration advice, contact Daniel and be sure to tell him we sent you.
And for a more detailed look at the laws, visit this website.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian being fingerprinted
P.S. We host or speak at a number of events each year. To see what we’re up to next, please see the Events page on our website.