Paris is a Woman. New York is a Man.
It’s pretty easy to board a plane, sit back and relax, watch a few movies, eat bad food and a few hours later, you’re speaking another language, taking in a totally new landscape and growing accustomed to another culture. That’s what I did Friday — land in the unofficial capital of the U.S. of A. — New York City.
It’s always a bit of a culture shock after having lived so many years in Paris, no matter how many times a year I visit New York. Paris is as different from New York as any major city can get. I have always seem them both in terms of ‘gender.’ Paris is a woman — feminine. New York is a man — masculine. (I also find Amsterdam feminine and London masculine — can’t really tell you why.)
From the window of my daughter’s West Village apartment, there is a perfect view of the Empire State Building, tall and clear. It’s a rather masculine spire, wouldn’t you agree…and with a lighted tip. And while you may think that the Eiffel Tower is also masculine in shape, ‘she’ is often called “La Grande Dame” and think about it — does she not look like a woman wearing a broad skirt with a narrow waist?
So, I wonder. Did the architects of these iconic structures have the same sentiments and carry through the gender theme without even realizing it?
New Yorkers’ love for France is evident everywhere. Retailers, restaurants and all sorts of services have long taken up the habit of giving themselves French names, which of course make them seem more chic, or ‘sexy,’ just like a feminine woman can decorate a room. And so do all things French enhance the masculine landscape of New York.
We ‘Parisians’ tend to gravitate toward those things ‘French.’ At the “brasserie” on the corner of 57th Street and Avenue of the Americas, aptly named “Rue 57” (which New Yorkers call “ROO FIFTY-SEVEN,” instead of “ERRRRUUUUU SANKONT SET”), we each ordered “une Salade Niçoise.” It seemed appropriate. When I asked for “une noisette” (an espresso with milk) out of habit, not even realizing I had spoken French, the waitress knew exactly what I was talking about. She was French — we heard it in her accent.
Like in Paris there are very accomplished musicians playing for money in the “subway,” that they now call the “Métro” (wonder where they got that name!?). One gentleman, extremely well dressed, almost like a ‘dandy,’ was playing a saw, and quite beautifully. He had chosen an artistic backdrop for himself and had gathered a large crowd. It felt right at home, except for the musical saw — that was a strange first-sighting in any city.
A trip to a wine shop was a shock for us Parisians who have the habit of buying pretty decent 5€ bottles of wine at the supermarket — the kind that are equivalent to a $10 or $12 bottle here. Trader Joes is known to sell “Two Buck Chuck” — California wines that sell for as little as $1.99 a bottle. It’s no wonder then why there was a line of people waiting to enter the store on 14th Street. We gave up and opted for $10 bottles to avoid the crowds.
While taking in the best of New York, we’ve already succumbed to a big juicy American burger with crispy fries at the Corner Bistrot on 4th Street (number 331)at the corner of Jane Street. It’s been written up as the best burger in Manhattan, but that’s a pretty tall order, considering how many burgers one might have in New York. Burgers have become all the rage in Paris, now you find them on just about any brasserie menu.
Nonetheless, it was down right delicious and we ate it with our hands, of course, letting it drip down our wrists, chuckling all the while about how the French eat burgers with a fork and knife. But of course, the French burgers aren’t as juicy as these thanks to lean French meat. If they were, they’d likely learn to eat them with their hands, too.
Then the day was not complete without a really creamy dense New York Cheesecake (served with whipped cream and hot chocolate) at the Brooklyn Diner at Times Square (155 W. 43rd Street). It’s as delicious as any N.Y.C. (New York Cheesecake) can be. This is a dessert the French have not perfected. Thank goodness…at this rate, if we keep working our way through New York’s culinary delights, we’ll end up looking more American (well fed) and less French (gaunt) every day.
Celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day started early. The pubs and bars are already spilling onto the sidewalks with drinkers and party-goers. You can almost smell the beer from the street, it’s so prevalent. The official celebration is tomorrow with the annual Saint Patty’s Day Parade along 5th Avenue, beginning at 44th Street and heading north, turning east on 86th Street. Marching bands come from every county in Ireland to participate, the unofficial dress code is green (uh oh, I didn’t bring anything appropriate to wear) and as I understand it, the best viewing spot is from the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
There’s no way this feminine “Parisienne” is going to miss all the special festivities in this masculine city, New York. So, stay tuned until Wednesday’s Nouvellettre®, before we head south to a more feminine city — New Orleans. Don’t you agree she’s more of a woman like Paris?
Editor, Parler Paris
P.P.S. For those of you who have dreamed of having a luxurious chalet in Chamonix, don’t miss the special offering to Parler Paris readers…to save 500,000€!!! Scroll down for more information.