Saturday, 11 May 2013

The flea market, where Kate got monkeys (but not fleas)

If anyone knows the root of the phrase "flea market" (and honestly, Sheila, I would be amazed if it's not you) please let me know, because I've never seen a flea in a flea market. Just tons, literally tons, of antique crap. Crap that people once valued highly and is now being sold alongside corkscrews and miscellaneous forks, 4€ for as much as you can fit in a bag.

The flea market was after class with A, who was a little unfocussed today. I've found that if I wait until he thinks he's finished the question, rather than correcting his errors as he makes them, he checks his answers himself and spots the mistakes himself - a far more fruitful learning process. I can imagine those wonderful teachers who read this blog - Hannah, for example - rolling their eyes at the fact that they learnt this years ago, but hey. I'm relatively new to this game.

After work I caught the tiniest bus in the world (seats: 20) to the station, and from the station a speedy little train to Paris where I met the girls at La Madeleine, a gloriously imposing church in the 8th. Mary had just thrown down 240€ on perfume for a friend of her mother's while wearing skinny jeans and the most broken down converse you've ever seen. I would have paid good money to see the shop assistant's face when this girl asked for a frighteningly expensive perfume. I would have laughed and laughed, if flies could laugh. As it was, we made our introductions, and at one point Kate put the bag on my head. It smelt of roses and paper, if you were interested, but if that's what 240€ smells like I'll just take the cash and sniff it.

On arrival all three of us were feeling a little hunger and we set off in search of some grub. As we were walking, I spotted an interesting storefront: Chick-can. Intriguing. On closer inspection, the food sounded great - a quarter roast chicken plus two hot sides for 12€. Bargain, but we weren't expecting much - this close to Concorde and the Champs d'Elysées, a bottle of water will set you back 2€ - but upon entering we found beautifully clean premises and a host who was enthusiastic and charming in equal measure - and both of those measures were enormous. He asked first if we spoke French or English, and when we proposed French he rattled off the menu and the way it was prepared slowly enough for us to understand but fast enough to make us feel as though we were absolutely winning at French. In essence, for your 12€ you get a quarter of a roast chicken - and you can see these chickens roasting behind the counter - in a sauce of your choice. In addition, we could choose two hot sides from between roasted baby new potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, mashed potato, ratatouille or quinoa. Every single sauce sounded delicious, every side looked exquisite. Our host ladled our plates high with the food, instructed us to help ourselves to glasses of water that he'd placed in the fridge so that they'd be cool, and moved quickly on to explaining this marvelous prospect to a new set of customers.

The food - oh, gods, the food. The chicken was amazing. The sides were amazing. The water was, well, water, but it was chilled and therefore amazing. Never underestimate chilled water. Knowing how my mother loves a roast chicken, I'm planning on taking my parents there when they come to see me in July. There'll be high class meals too, but sometimes you need to get down and greasy and rip into some chicken with your hands. Do not, like me, wear a classy shirt, because that delicious sauce will make a break for freedom all over your shirt, and then you'll have to fight the urge to then eat your shirt. And that will endear you to absolutely no-one. So that's my Paris meal tip: Chick Can, 12 rue Vignon, 75009. Wear a t-shirt. Or a bib.

The afternoon was given over to a flea market in the northernmost reaches of Paris, where we had to walk a veritable gauntlet of shifty looking people offering us glasses, belts, shirts and phones. They had probably fallen off the back of a lorry (an English euphemism which means stolen), and so the chances of me buying any of the goods was slim. All the same, it's a trifle intimidating, and made me realise I should start asking to be paid by cheque. At the market, Kate haggled down a fellow from 40 to 30€, displaying a mastery of the girlish pout that has toppled nations and brought low the mighty. And saved her 10€, so that's pretty good. She bought the three monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. I myself spotted several julep cups (a julep is a kind of cocktail; you can see I'm already planning my return to the Aberdeen scene) and a beautiful shaker which knocked in at 220€. Temptation tried to slip her hand in my back pocket, but for the moment I resisted.

Once we quit the market we made our way to Chatelet, where there are plenty of bars and cafés where one can sit and watch the world pass by. So we grabbed a table and did so. There is no greater pleasure, in any city, than to sit and be surrounded by the hurrying people, to watch them and make no move at all to join their hustle and bustle. A couple of drinks later we made our lazy way to St Lazare where I said goodbye to Kate (by pulling a bizarre face and banging my face against hers) and goodbye to Mary (she's my girlfriend. If I need to tell you how I said goodbye to my girlfriend you need to step away from the Internet).

A journey home and a careful avoidance of my takeaway heaven - with a liter of excellent Belgian beer coating my insides, and despite my enormous lunch, a kebab was looking exceedingly delicious - brings me to here, finishing up the second of two gigantic blogs.

Thank you always for reading. And Fiona, if you've got this far, you may now rest.

For everyone else, here's a Youtube entertainer that my girlfriend (a concept that is apparently utterly alien to my sister) has got me hooked on. She's fantastic, but this video did make me question a lot of things.

No, don't ask what things. Just watch the video.

Really. Don't ask.

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