A big nosed plastic roman soldier guarding the entrance of the cinémathèque

Les lieux speciaux de Paris

I recently visited a friend who’s working as a barista on weekends and because she was busy took a little walk in the Bastille area. Not far from the little coffee shop there’s a cat café!

I also came across rue de Lappe, which has a lot of restaurants and bars. Shuttered for the day they look quite interesting.

Among them is a Caribbean restaurant where you can get a Bokit – a sandwich in fried bread.

And a bar called only rum that has the interior design of a jungle. There are fake plants and vines everywhere, you have to duck below them to get to the bar. The place is lighted entirely in green and has a citric smell to it that was still noticeable in my clothes the next day.

The drinks are served in preserving jars and are good, but nothing special, but the atmosphere definitely is. Unfortunately the bar keeper is a grumpy bastard who put up a sign that asks you not to tutoyer him i.e. not use the informal tu when talking to him, like duzen in German. There are other signs around telling you that you don’t have the right to touch this and change that.

Last weekend P visited Paris for the 4th time. I’d been seeing ads for the Goscinny exhibition on the metro for a while but as it’s in the cinémathèque, I always assumed that it’s in fact a show of films by Goscinny. There’s even a boar on a spit in front of the cinema. Turns out it’s not just a cinema, the cinémathèque also has an exhibition space. I’ve been living across the place for 9 months now and never even noticed it! We went to “visit our childhood friends” like P. called it: Goscinny drew Asterix, Lucky Luke and Petit Nicholas.

Afterwards we had coffee and cake at the cinematheque’s café, together with a dozen screamy children and their parents for Sunday brunch.

I had been telling P about Poké bowls and Buddha bowls. They have become fashionable a few months ago and I finally tried a Poké bowl in summer – It’s a Hawaiian dish consisting of raw fish and vegetables on rice. The Buddha version is vegetarian and sometimes the rice is replaced by other grains.

We wanted to have a Buddha Bowl lunch on Friday in a place recommended by a friend not far from Saint Lazare. But we left home so late we arrived after all the lunch places had closed – In France it’s still very uncommon to eat outside of meal times and especially lunch places close at 14:30. We ended up finding a place with good tartes and spent the rest of the afternoon walking to Montmarte. We came across a small Colombian shop selling Colombian coffee. It was tiny and you had to ring a door bell just to get in. Inside were two tiny women speaking rapid Spanish with each other. We also saw a chocolate place that had monkeys made from chocolate in the shop window.

A monkey made from chocolate
We went inside to check out their chocolates and ended up buying a cookie, a quinoa energy ball and a sweet on a stick consisting of meringue and gianduja covered in matcha frosting. The back of the shop was partinioned off by a glass wall and behind it you could watch the sweets being made by the chocolatier and we all know how much I love watching people prepare food.

On Sunday night we went to a pizza place that has fried pizza. They claim it’s a neapolitan speciality, but I’m not so sure I believe it. Gergö had to have it, of course, and it wasn’t bad. “It’s just like filled langos”, was P. comment and I think she might be right.

A golden brown bit crescent of fried dough.

I only added the photo to keep up my food photo quota.

During this dinner our Italian friend A mentioned that there is a Mozza Bar in Paris, where you can try different kinds of Mozzarella cheese. I’ve started to make a list of places I want to visit and cafés and restaurants I want to try. The cat café and the Mozza bar are on this list, together with a place that has minus 8 degrees and this list of the best desserts of Paris.

I already went to one on the list: the Japanese French Patissier. They have everything in a matcha version, but I actually took the yuzu tarte. I couldn’t have said if it’s any different from a lemon tarte, but it was a very good lemon tarte and very good green tea, in a fancy fancy little tea salon surrounded by chocolate with black sesame and matcha.

Croissants et Bonbons

Soon after I started my new job, I was reminded to always lock my computer screen when I walk away from my desk. I used to be in the habit, but for the last few years I only ever used my macbook, which I simply close when I take a  break. The desktop computer runs on Linux, so my tried and tested Windows shortcut ctrl + alt + del didn’t work. It didn’t take long for me to forgot about locking the computer.

My colleagues were making jokes about the dangers of leaving the computer unlocked. And I promptly forgot again when I got up to make tea. I returned to my colleagues giggling about something when I noticed I hadn’t locked the screen. I sat down at my computer to find a croissant as a background image and giggles all around. I put a post it note with the correct shortcut (ctrl + alt + l) on my screen, and I haven’t had a second croissant. Yet.

The croissant is not some sort of hazing ritual for the newest team member, by the way. It’s a team tradition to put a croissant on unlocked computers. Depending on time and circumstances this can be the background image, or like it was for a colleague a little later, an email going out to the entire team. He had just turned away from his desk to help someone when another colleague snuck up and sent the one word message.

I still don’t know why it’s a Kipferl but now I know what my colleagues mean when they say croissant :-)

The other food frequently referred to at work are schokobons. There’s usually a bag of them around somewhere and they exist as emojis in the internal chat. When you mess up, then you caused a schokobon and you are supposed to supply them. I once misunderstood a colleague’s comment and deleted some code instead of deleting the comments that surrounded it – “careful, or you will have to get schokobons soon!” was the reply.

I ended up getting a bag of them not much later when I messed up in a time consuming and embarassing manner that required somebody who knew what he was doing to unmerge and rebase and do other things I don’t really know how to handle yet.

They take it all with a lot of humour and I like it. I like a company culture where saying you made a mistake is accepted and accompanied by chocolate and support. When I once finally got something to work I said “Juhuuuu! Endlich!” in German, more to myself than to anyone else. The immediate reaction of a colleague was: “Is everything okay? Did a schokobon happen?”.

The internal chat is also very educative – I learn a lot more colloquialisms than during French class. And with written information, I can at least look it up. I have a browser window with the dictionary, google translate and wiktionary open at all times. My favourite words so far have been: saperlipopette (Sapperlot), trombinoscope (an employee directory with photos, not a trombone shaped microscope!), and schmilblick (thingy).

When people talk I ask a lot of questions, but sometimes I give up and let it all just wash over me. The moment I get completely lost is when numbers are mentioned. I’m a little better with quatre-vingt-dix-neuf than I used to be, but it just takes so long for me to parse a number that’s higher than 60 that I usually lose the plot on account of still calculating “soixante quinze, that’s 60 plus 15…”, when the conversation is already much further.

I used to not understand why people don’t simply ask, when they don’t understand something. And now I get it. Oh I get it so well. Sometimes I have already asked so many questions that there comes a point where I don’t want to ask anymore. Sometimes I didn’t understand the first and second time and when it would be time to ask a third time, I decide that it’s probably not that important anyway.

My colleagues are not the clearest enunciators. These days I atone daily for all the times my mum told me I mumble and talk so fast and low and I didn’t slow down or spoke up for longer than a phrase or two.