REAL… NEW YORK BAGELS ARE NOW IN PARIS!

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

Yes, you read that correctly. REAL… freshly baked, New York bagels are finally here! Some of you might ask yourself why I would even care with all the incredibly delicious French pastries everywhere. France has some of the best food/bread/pastries in the world, and when I first moved here I couldn’t get enough of those French goodies. After a while, my taste buds wanted something from back home… bagels. Take it from experience, no pain au chocolate or croissant will do when you have your heart set on a warm bagel that is crispy on the outside & has that perfectly textured inside.

The craving can at times become so strong that you start running around, trying just about everything and anything resembling a bagel in hopes that you might find something that comes close to satisfying your desire. It’s not one of my proudest moments, but I even began to think about taking a trip back home just to get a good bagel fix… that is, until I saw the airfare prices. That would have been one very expensive bagel… right?!

There are those of you who might be asking, aren’t bagels already in France? Yes, it’s true. You can even find so-called bagels in local French supermarkets. To those people, the totally addicted bagel lover like myself might say, you poor thing, you have never tasted the REAL thing. A hard or mushy piece of bland bread that has no real texture and a hole in the middle does not constitute a real bagel.

After searching high and low, and waiting way too many years, freshly baked New York bagels of many flavors have arrived in Paris. Gone are the days when I will have to witness shops in France pull bagels out of the freezer in supermarket packaging, shivering in horror as they pop them into the microwave, charging me a fortune.

Today, there are a few shops that are trying to make more of an effort in baking fresh bagels locally, but those that I have tasted, lacked the true authenticity of what I considered a real bagel. Some say it’s the water that makes them so good, others say it’s the special process… whatever it is, locating a place that makes a bagel just right has gotten easier in France… Bruegger’s has arrived!

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the  Montparnasse Tower! Montparnasse – 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France -  Photo: Bellanda ®

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! Montparnasse – 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

Bruegger’s began more than thirty years ago in New York, and have over 300 bakeries in 26 states today. I love that they use the same time-honored methods of New York bagel bakeries by using flour, water, yeast, salt and malt. In 2011, they joined the GROUPE LE DUFF and in 2013 they began to bring their bagels to France. After a successful, start in Rennes, France, Bruegger’s is now in Paris, at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower. They are hoping to have around 40 bakeries across France in the next 5 years. *Yes, I just did a little happy dance.

I was filled with nervous expectations and hope when I walked into the bagel shop for the first time. Wide-eyed, I tried to soak it all in. Bruegger’s Paris has a New York loft style, with an industrial feel to it… so far so good!

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

Immediately, I noticed all of the, oh so familiar, products from back home… Each time, I bring my Parisian-borne little ones there, their American side seems to take over as they are they are instantly drawn to the Epicerie. “Mommy, they have Fluff!”

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

I couldn’t have been happier when I read the Baked fresh… all day long sign. YES… They really seem to get the whole idea of what bagels are about! There’s nothing like eating freshly baked bagels at any time of the day.

Bruegger’s ships their dough over to France, and bakes their bagels in the exact same fashion as Bruegger’s in New York and across the United States. These bagels are truly the best I have ever had in Paris. Even though, they are a little far in distance from my district, I just can’t seem to get enough of them. But hey, I can’t complain because it’s much closer and cheaper than buying that airline ticket.

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

After being greeted with warm friendly smiles, we chose the bagel bread, sandwich style, along with a side of chips or homemade coleslaw. I’m so glad that they told us about their house specialty ice-tea, made fresh each day. It has become a definite must with each visit.

Bruegger’s has many of the typical sandwiches that you would find back home, in addition to some new ones. At first, I was reluctant to taste what they called the Classic New Yorker Burger… in all of my years in New York, I never saw or even thought about throwing a burger inside a bagel. That said, I just had to try it. What a great surprise… it turned out to be one of my favorites. Go figure, a New York bagel with a French-American twist… nice touch!

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

During our latest visit, we discovered that Cinnamon Raisin bagels are now on the menu (Yay!), and whole wheat bagels will be added in the month of May. They’ve also added a brunch bagel served all day long. Memories of my egg bagel sandwich & coffee rituals before work or after a late night out are flooding in. This was one of my all-time favorites from back home, and I can’t wait to give it a try.

Ok, now for one of my other passions… REAL coffee. I always make room for a coffee, espresso, tea or one of their specialty drinks. There is a trained Barista on the premises who grinds the beans and makes your coffee upon command. What a nice surprise. In addition, their freshly baked muffins are to die for!

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

BRUEGGER’S New York Style Bagels at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower! 11 rue de l’Arrivée 75015 – Paris, France – Photo: Bellanda ®

I don’t know about you… but no visit is complete, unless I can bring home a bag of 6 bagels. I’ve got the entire family addicted to bagels now. This makes the New Yorker in me smile. So, Mom… please send over my bagel slicer for my REAL bagels… I FINALLY need it!

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I’m Not a French Chef, But Moving to France Has Changed This Expat’s Eating Habits!

This Expat Has Changed Her Eating Habits Since She Moved to France.

This Expat Has Changed Her Eating Habits Since She Moved to France.

As someone who has openly admitted to giving Americans a bad name when it comes to food and cooking, I have made huge changes since I moved to France. Although, we will still go to a fine restaurant from time to time to eat things we can’t possibly make ourselves, my New York lifestyle of going out to eat, grabbing or delivering something has become almost non-existent. Most importantly, my pasta no longer sticks to the wall like wallpaper paste, and you can actually cut and chew a piece of meat that I have cooked (much to the relief of my dear sweet man and children).

Although I know that I will never truly be French in my attitude and habits, food has become almost sacred for me. I’m not sure when it happened, but when I was recently asked if my eating habits have changed since I moved to France I was surprised by my answer. The change is in fact so dramatic that I’m not even sure if I should be proud or embarrassed.

As I write this blog post for you, I almost feel like a food snob. Okay, I think the word almost  is an understatement. I’m not proud, but I think that I have actually become one! We buy fresh foods found at the market. By fresh, I mean… literally. I cringe at the thought of buying or eating meat, fish or poultry that wasn’t cleaned/prepared for me in front of my very eyes. I don’t think I ever saw a fish head until I moved to France, and although I get laughed at by my French friends, I still don’t want to see it on my plate. Somehow, I don’t think I will ever evolve to that, nor do I want to. That said, fish and other meat products should be fresh. Who knew that fish doesn’t smell fishy if it is fresh? Okay, please don’t answer that. I’d like to continue thinking that I am not the only one who thought, all fish smells fishy.

Fresh Fish from Local Market

Fresh Fish from Local Market

As if the fresh meat and fish idea isn’t enough, I can’t help but gasp at vegetables or fruit in a can. If you just opened one up for dinner, please don’t hate me. The one thing I noticed here in France, is the ease with which one can find local markets that are open several times a week. Pretty much everything I buy come from the nearby fresh markets, leaving the supermarket for staple items like flour, sugar, etc. There is one hump I can’t get over… I buy mayonnaise and I will never put raw egg on my homemade Fettuccine Alfredo (Now, it is my Mother In Law who is gasping). The germ and virus fearing American in me just can’t get over that whole salmonella thing.

Although my Mom shakes her head and laughs about how crazy I have become about not buying something canned, I somehow feel better when she compliments my cooking and asks me to give her recipes.

Market Vegetables

Market Vegetables
Bellanda ®

Fresh Market Vegetables

Fresh Market Vegetables
Bellanda ®

You might be shaking your heads by now thinking, Who knew Bellanda was so crazy? She seems so normal in the Social Media Circle.  Hold that thought… Things are about to get worse or better depending on where you stand. When my children were little, one of them made a comment about carrots coming from the fresh market.  They were shocked to hear that they actually came from the ground before they made it to the market. Thus began a whole new way of thinking and buying food. We went online in search of a farm, and we not only found one not too far from Paris, we found one where you pick your own fruits and vegetables.

If you caught my Halloween Pumpkin Post, one of our little farms just happens to be the same place we buy our pumpkins at Halloween:  La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny.  http://www.cueilletteduplessis.com/index.php

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny D20 - Route de Lumigny 77540 Lumigny Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny
D20 – Route de Lumigny
77540 Lumigny
Photos: Bellanda ®

Put on your boots and grab one of the many wheelbarrows at your disposal to start loading it up with fresh delicious fruits and vegetables.  We do!

"Mommy, look what we pulled up from the ground!"

“Mommy, look what we pulled up from the ground!”
Bellanda ®

"Only take the red ones..."

“Only take the red ones…”
Bellanda ®

Oh, and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty... That is the fun part!

Oh, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty… That is the fun part!
You can wash them later when you rinse off your vegetable at the big outdoor sink.
Bellanda ®

Farm Fruits and Veggies Bellanda ®

Fall Season Farm Fruits and Vegetables.
Oops! It looks like we forgot to tell our little ones not to crush the freshly picked salad.
Bellanda ®

Although we don’t play farmer  as often as I would like to, it is a must for so many reasons: great produce, decent prices, and we get to teach our little ones about buying what is in season.  With the ability to buy any and all fruits and vegetables throughout the entire year, I didn’t even know what in season meant back home.

Much to the amazement of my Mom, we eat a real breakfast and cook two meals a day. I think the only reason she doesn’t call the men in white suites to bring me back home is because from time to time I will make a sandwich for lunch. My children adore them, so I try to ignore and put up with my Mother In Law saying in an almost shocked tone, “Oh, I see they’re eating American today? I guess they can eat French for dinner.” Even though I see sandwiches everywhere here in France, apparently I will never be truly French, no matter how much my eating habits have evolved… but hey, I’m totally okay with that.

If Only All Wars Were Made of Toilet Paper: War of Wills, War of Cultures… or BOTH?

Before I begin, let me just say that last week was a difficult one for my entire family.  

I think we (or at least I) could use a little comic relief.  

Taking a little break from the big issues in life is at times a necessary blessing.  

If only all wars were made of toilet paper…

Seems like an ordinary roll of toilet paper, but beware of its consequences! Photo/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Seems like an ordinary roll of toilet paper, but beware of its consequences!
Photo/Graphics by Bellanda ®

It seems like an ordinary roll of toilet paper, right?  Who would have thought that a simple roll of toilet paper could start what I am calling the Silent Toilet Paper War?  I can almost see some of you shaking your heads as you wonder if I’ve either lost my mind or run out of ideas for my blog.  You might even be thinking that it must be sheer desperation that has driven me to write about such a subject.  On the contrary, those of you who follow my blog know that I had planned to write about my favorite place to buy and drink coffee in Paris.  So, why toilet paper?  Let’s just say that it’s amazing what can arise from a simple one week visit from my dear sweet French man’s parents.  Sorry, but the coffee post will just have to wait!

Toilet paper…  When you hear those words I’m sure there are many things that come to mind of which we truly do not need to talk about.  As long as I’ve had it when it was needed, I never gave it much thought.  Then came an eye-opening visit from my in-laws which led me to realize something that I’m not proud of.  Apparently, I can be quite petty when it comes to the direction a toilet paper roll is placed on the holder.  Ah, yes! Did some of you just have a moment of recognition?  Disbelief?  Either way, I have a feeling that many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

On the first day my in-laws were with us, I walked into the bathroom and immediately noticed that the roll of toilet paper was facing in the wrong direction.  Yes, I am seriously that obsessive. Who knew?!  Instinctively, I switched it back to what I consider to be the correct  way to hang toilet paper.  I figured that one of my children must have knocked it on the floor by accident and placed it back on the holder in the wrong direction.  Then, it happened again… and again.  I kept this whole thing to myself, but out of curiosity switched the toilet paper back each time I saw it in the wrong direction.

My Way!

My Way! (Over Orientation)

I decided to do a little investigating (I know, I need to get out more).  This probably sounds crazy and perhaps it truly is, but I just had to know who was doing this.  I found myself sneaking around, checking the bathroom each time someone walked out.  It turned out that it was my Mother-in-Law AND Father-in-Law!  They actually took the time to change the direction of the toilet paper roll each time they went into the bathroom!  I mean really, who does that?  Oh right, my in-laws… but why?  I don’t know about you, but I have never thought of switching the toilet paper roll direction when I am a guest at someone else’s house and would appreciate it if you are a future guest at my home that you leave my toilet paper the way I like it.  😉

The first time you notice that the toilet paper is in the wrong direction, you say to yourself that it must have been an accident.   The second time, you start to wonder.  The third time, you start to wonder if they are doing this just to annoy you.  The fourth time you are sure they are!  No one spoke of the subject, yet each time I switched the roll to my way, they switched it back to their way.  Thus began, what I’m going to call the Toilet Paper Experiment and the Silent Toilet Paper War.

Yes, I am indeed aware that perhaps I need to get a life but let’s just say I did all of this under the realm of  cultural research.  At least, that is what I’m telling myself. I continued doing this in secret for the entire week they stayed with us.  I was afraid if I mentioned it to anyone it would taint my experiment and ruin the outcome.  I actually giggled as I went in and out of the bathroom in disbelief.  I wanted so much to share what was happening with my dear sweet man, but I stuck to my original plan.  I kept wondering if my in-laws would eventually stop switching the toilet paper roll.  I was sure that they would… but this is what I would see every single day, several times a day, for the entire week!

Their Way!

Their Way! (Under Orientation)

Was this some Machiavellian way to get even with me for taking their son away ?

During the week, I began asking myself some truly ridiculous questions.  Is there even a correct way to place toilet paper on the holder?  Is it just an acquired behavioral pattern?  Is it just another one of those cultural issues that pops up from time to time as a result of being an expat?  Do people even care which way the paper is placed on the holder?

Then, I did what pretty much everyone else does when they want to know something, I Googled the words “correct way to place toilet paper on the holder” only to discover that despite this being a truly petty subject matter… there is actually a Silent and Not So Silent War going on when it concerns this topic.  Apparently, there have been a ridiculous numbers of studies actually done on this subject.  I smiled, feeling somewhat vindicated that somehow I was not as crazy as I thought.  If scientists, philosophers and doctors have researched this subject, then I can assume I’m in good company (or at least in crazy company).

The wealth of information is actually quite hilarious and even links toilet paper orientation to  personality traits, age, political affiliation, and of course cultural differences.  One can’t help but laugh, but apparently it is also a pet peeve that causes actual fights in some relationships.  According to Wikipedia,  Ann Landers said that this subject was the most controversial issue in her column’s history.

What struck me time and time again while going through the mass of information on the internet concerning this topic were the recurring polls and studies that showed that most Americans use the over orientation, as I do, while most Europeans use the under orientation like my in-laws.  Somehow, I was relieved that my in-laws weren’t trying to make me crazy or get even with me for some unknown reason.  I felt better in thinking that toilet paper orientation is just a cultural thing. That is, until I saw this…

You just can't make this kind of thing up... life is so full of surprises!

You just can’t make this kind of thing up… Life is much more fun than fiction!

War of Wills, War of Cultures… or BOTH?  I’ll let you be your own judge.  I’m going to pretend (or lie to myself) that it’s just another Expat cultural thing and that my dear man’s parents were just too preoccupied with packing their bags to replace the roll of toilet paper.   If I allow myself to think this was done on purpose, I might also discover that I have a little vengeful, yet playful, side of me that will have to spend my next visit to their home changing the toilet paper in all of the bathrooms… for the entire duration of my trip!  😀

If only all wars were made of toilet paper…

We could just flush them down the toilet.

Have some fun & see where you fit in.  Here’s the Wikipedia link if you are curious to know what your toilet paper orientation says about you:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_paper_orientation

Here’s a post that nearly made me fall on the floor laughing:  http://currentconfig.com/2005/02/22/essential-life-lesson-1-over-is-right-under-is-wrong  The author included sketches and clearly stated reasons as to why the way I orient my toilet paper is the correct way.  In all fairness to under orientation people, they updated their post to include some reasons why some people prefer this approach.

Now the BIG questions…

Have some fun and let yourself think about something truly ridiculous for a moment. 

Do you care which way the toilet paper is placed on the holder?  

If so, which way is your ‘correct’ way?  

What country are you from?

*Oh, and feel free to leave a fake name if you would rather not let people all over the world know you’re actually discussing toilet paper orientation…  🙂

UPDATE:

THIS ARTICLE & TOILET PAPER PATENT JUST ABOUT SETTLES THE TOILET PAPER ORIENTATION DEBATE… I WIN –  HAHAHA! Just in time… They are due for another visit in about 10 days & this might come in handy.  😉

124-year-old patent solves the ‘over versus under’ toilet paper roll debate

Spotted by The Huffington Post, writer Owen Williams discovered a picture of the original patent and shared it with the world.

Just when we were getting ready for spring in Paris, it snowed!

Paris Snow in March 2013 - Photos/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Paris Snow in March 2013
Photos/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Surprising March view of a Paris park in the 12th District.Bellanda ®

Surprising March view of a Paris park in the 12th District.
Bellanda ®

Oops! Perhaps someone should have closed the roof to this glassed-in café?Bellanda ®

Oops! Perhaps someone should have closed the roof of this ‘enclosed’ café terrace?
Bellanda ®

This is an adorable little children's attraction in Paris, 12th district.  The sign says, Attraction open every day.  Don't think they envisioned this snow storm either.Bellanda ®

This is a cute little attraction for kids in Paris, 12th district. The sign says, Attraction open every day. I don’t think they envisioned this snow storm, either.
Bellanda ®

Cool sculpture in a Paris 12th district park, St Emilion, surrounded by a partially frozen pond.Bellanda ®

Cool sculpture in a Paris 12th district park, St Emilion, surrounded by a partially frozen pond.
Bellanda ®

Paris, 12 DistrictBellanda ®

Paris, 12th District… Very pretty but not exactly ‘walking friendly’
Bellanda ®

Lone bench in Paris... We didn't really need to sit there anyway.  Opted for a nice hot chocolate... indoors.Bellanda ®

Lone bench in Paris… We didn’t really need to sit there anyway. Opted for a nice hot chocolate… indoors.
Bellanda ®

"Look! The water is frozen." ... "Do you think we can walk on it?"   Yikes!Bellanda ®

“Look! The water is frozen.” … “Do you think we can walk on it?” … “Well, the snow isn’t sinking, so I think so.”    Me, “NO!”    Yikes!
Bellanda ®

Paris, Chinatown – Letting you in on our favorite restaurant and pastry shop!

Feature Photo for Chinese New Year Resto picks 2013

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

I have been going back and forth on the subject of revealing some of my favorite places to eat in Paris ever since I started my Twitter account (@BellandaInParis).  At the time, I was rather reticent.  I’m a private person when it comes to keeping my family life and my public life separate, and believe it or not this subject actually became a household one.  There was even a fleeting moment during the discussion in which I was horrified to discover that I have a selfish side I never knew existed.  What if everyone found out about these places and there were no tables left for us?  I was appalled!  Could I be that selfish?  I quickly tried to push that thought out of my head as my dear man and I decided that it would be best to keep the places we frequent to ourselves.  At the time I convinced myself that I was just protecting my family.  That seemed to ease my conscience, somehow… that is, until the day when I started my blog.

It’s funny how a blog can put a whole new perspective on the way you look at things.  In addition, there is a lovely relationship developing with those of you who follow my blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts that I never imagined.  Your tweets, comments and interactions have touched me greatly, and the tremendous support I have received on my relatively new blog has amazed me.  It feels much like a ‘family’ the way you share your stories and experiences in the comment section of this blog.  I love what is developing here… and it seems only normal to share with you.  I mean, how could I not let you in on some of these places?

On one of our last visits to Paris, Chinatown.  I just had to share this wonderful experience with you.  The restaurant that I am going to let you in on is called “La Lune.”  At first sight, you might walk by this place… but don’t!  We have tried many places over the years, but have been going to this little ‘find’ for the last seven years.

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures for you and wouldn’t let anyone eat until I had taken at least one good shot of a few of our favorite dishes.  I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, which can be slightly annoying if you are hungry and the person standing between you and the food is taking their time to carefully place the dish, moving it around in such a way so as to show the food as it should be presented.  I have to admit, I’m lucky.  I think my little ones and sweet man are starting to go with the whole photo blogging flow of things… but after a while the kids were like, “Okay, Mom, can we eat now?”

The food is the best we have found in Paris, Chinatown to this day.  No, we haven’t tried everywhere, but it did take us 3 years to find this place and we have no intention of going elsewhere.  I think you will understand why when you see the photos.

Nems, as they are called here.  I can feel my mouth beginning to water for these crispy delights!

Nems, as they are called here… They are crispy delights!
Photo by Bellanda ®

Spicy Caramel PorkPhoto by Bellanda ®

Spicy Caramel Pork served in the pan it was cooked in!
Photo by Bellanda ®

Let me start by saying, no, they are not worms!  This is a sort of country style pasta that goes amazingly well with our usual Spicy Caramel Pork.Photo by Bellanda ®

Let me start by saying, no, these are not worms.  This is a sort of country-style pasta noodle that goes amazingly well with our Spicy Caramel Pork.
Photo by Bellanda ®

As we were leaving the restaurant, the owner gave us each an orange for luck and wealth in the New Year of the Snake.  With stomachs full and a happy heart, we walked down the road to our next favorite spot.  The sights were wonderful to see.  We happened upon some of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Happy New Year and Good Health Banners lined the streets as local merchants prepared for a parade.
Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

For us, no visit to Paris, Chinatown would be complete without stopping off at our favorite pastry shop.  It’s not surprising to find a line, but we definitely believe it well worth the wait if you are looking for delicious traditional Chinese cakes, cookies and pastries.

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Images/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Take a look at some of their specialties!

On the left, you will find a vanilla cake that is cooked using vapor.  At first I cringed at the idea of a cake being cooked by vapor, but am happy we listened to the wonderful sales lady who recommended it.  One little detail not to be missed is that this cake can only be found during the Chinese New Year season.Photo by Bellanda ®

Photo by Bellanda ®

On the left, you will find a moist vanilla cake that is cooked by using steam.  At first I cringed at the idea, but I am happy we listened to the wonderful sales lady who recommended it.  Oh, one little detail not to be missed is that this cake can only be found during the Chinese New Year season.

Candied Coconut and Candied Lotus Seeds are also Chinese New Year treats found once a year.Photo by Bellanda ®

Candied Coconut and Candied Lotus Seeds are also Chinese New Year treats found once a year.
Photo by Bellanda ®

We obviously haven’t tried everything, but have every intention to do so.  With each visit, we add something new to our ever-growing list of favorites.  And yes, we wait impatiently for the ‘coco confit’ each year and have added the moist vanilla steamed cake to the list of New Year’s treats.  If you are like us, we stock up and fill up to help us wait it out.  In the meantime, their various other cakes and cookies fill the void perfectly.

There you have it!  Now that I’ve revealed our two favorite Paris, Chinatown locations… the only request I make is that if by some chance you happen to be at the restaurant… and there are no tables left for us… would you mind sharing yours like one big happy family?

Somehow I feel I might need to apologize for this blog post.  As my mouth waters and my stomach growls, perhaps I should have warned you that reading this would lead to the possibility of making you hungry for Chinese Food.  I don’t know about you, but I know what I am going to eat as soon as possible!

It’s no longer a joke! My overalls were not only illegal in Paris… they were illegal in all of France!

Bellanda ®

Bellanda ®

The last several months, I have joked that wearing my overalls in Paris might be considered illegal. Little did I know how right I was! Ever since that very first day I ventured out into the streets of Paris wearing overalls, there has been ongoing banter on Twitter and Facebook about the fact that this could be illegal.  There were some of you who gasped with laughter saying, “No, you didn’t?”  There were others who said things like, “Good for you!  Be yourself and be proud.” In my defense, and yes, I somehow think wearing overalls… more exactly wearing paint stained overalls in a city where people only wear jogging/sports attire if they are actually running, does indeed need defending.  My overalls have remained in my closet for many years, untouched, as I wondered why on earth I even bothered to bring them to Paris in the first place.  That is, until I began painting.  I was thrilled to have them, but never did I have any intention on wearing them in the streets of Paris. That said, I tend to get lost in my work.  Knowing this, I always set a little alarm in order to take a few moments to make myself look somewhat presentable before picking the little ones up at school.   When I write, work on my photography or social media managing jobs this task is pretty easy to do. However, on days when I get lost in my painting, things always seem to take a rather interesting turn.  Maybe I’m just a messy painter, but sometimes when I paint I wonder if there is more paint on me or on the canvas.  I literally throw myself into my work and disappear into the painting, letting go of all awareness as I get lost in the music, emotions, colors and the movement of my paintbrush.  It’s almost trance-like. That is until I hear my alarm go off telling me that I have exactly 40 minutes to be at the school when the doors open.  40 minutes sounds like a lot of time to get ready and walk just a few blocks, but have you ever tried cleaning off oil paint?  When you are up for some fun… give it a try.  Be sure to take photos!  I’d love to see how that all works out for you.  Oh, and no using any of those nasty easy oil paint removers that actually work but kill your skin.  Only use the natural ones so that you can truly have some fun. On most days, I manage to get cleaned up, throw off my overalls and slip into a pair of jeans, but one day in particular I was so deep inside my painting that when the alarm went off, I didn’t stop.  I kept telling myself to take a few more minutes.  It’s as if this painting posted below had taken me in and wasn’t letting me out.

RED RED  300

Bellanda ®

The next thing I knew I had 15 minutes to get to the school.  Changing was not an option, so I figured I would throw on a coat and hopefully no one would notice.  I quickly washed my face, and tried to get as much paint off of my hands as I could.  I threw on a little make-up to hide the redness that had formed on my face from all of the rubbing and ran out of the door.  I walked out of the door cringing at the fact that once again this American was going to stick out like a sore thumb, even though I knew very well in my heart that I would never truly fit in. I walked to the school at a rapid pace.  It felt almost criminal to be parading around Paris in overalls.  I imagined all of the French Mommies and Daddies looking with disdain at me and my half-hidden paint stained overalls.  There she is again, that American… has she no shame?  Then I thought, they probably won’t even notice.  I mean really, they have better things to do than to stare at me. Just then, an expat friend passed by on her bicycle. She waved and shouted, “Love the new punk look!”  She gave me a huge giggle, blew me a kiss and said, “Catch you later!” I was confused.  When did overalls become punk?  I quickly forgot the whole punk comment when I ran into another friend in front of the school.  I tried ever so casually to put my hands in my pocket and slide my coat closed, hoping this French friend wouldn’t notice. “The overalls are a nice touch,” he said with a wink and a huge smile. So much for no one noticing, I thought.  Then, the New Yorker in me said, who cares?  Let them look.   Maybe I’ll start a new trend.  That made me smile and I stood there proudly waiting for my little ones to come out of the school.  When they did, my six-year-old little princess ran over to me and screamed for all to hear, “Wow, Mommy, you went to the hairdresser today!  I love your new red highlights!  Can I get some, too?” Red highlights? What on earth was she talking about?  “Sweetie, I haven’t been to the hairdresser.” Just then, she reached up and pointed to my head, “Your hair has red in it… It looks funky Mommy!  Can I put some in my hair when we get home?” I was so worried about my overalls being “illegal” that I hadn’t noticed until I got home that I had left the house with streaks of red paint in my hair. One might actually say that it looked professionally done!  Well, I thought, at least I gave everyone something to look at, giggle at or downright laugh at.  That can’t be all bad now, can it? Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last time I would be obliged to run to the school in my paint stained overalls, and I would continue to tweet and post on Facebook wondering if there was a law forbidding this in Paris.  Well, it seems that my fears turned out to be correct!  Not only was it illegal for a woman to wear pants in Paris, it was illegal to wear pants in the entire country of France!   I like to use humor on my blog posts, but this time I am being completely serious. According to an article I read on the BBC News website, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21329269, the French government recently overturned a more than 200-year-old law stating that women were only allowed to wear pants or “dress like a man” if they got permission from the police beforehand.  I know you are shaking your heads in disbelief and I wish I was kidding, but it’s true.   The law was put into effect in the year 1800 and was modified in the years 1892 and 1909.  Only then did it begin allowing women to wear pants “if they were holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse.”  No, unfortunately I’m still not kidding. Somehow this law was forgotten… or at least I hope that is why it took until now for the government to overturn it.  According to the Minister of Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, “This order was aimed first of all at limiting the access of women to certain offices or occupations by preventing them from dressing in the manner of men.”  Apparently she felt that the “ban was no longer compatible with modern French values and laws.” Really?  I’m so glad that someone has figured that out!  Now, I can wear my overalls and not worry that I will be taken away by the police.  Then again, they only mention pants.  I’m guessing that my paint stained overalls might somehow still be illegal in Paris and if they’re not, perhaps they should be.  On second thought, life would be boring if we were all so perfect; wouldn’t it?   No need to answer that; I’m just going to pretend you agree with me. This old French law got me thinking.  I’ve heard of many strange laws in certain states in the United States that have been forgotten about and are no longer practiced but are still in the books.  Please feel free to jot down an archaic law that no one practices anymore, but are still officially laws where you live.  It might be fun to add them in the comments section below. As for me and my overalls… only time will tell.  I’m guessing that they will see the streets of Paris again.  If I promise to try to clean my “punk” hair before leaving the house, will you be so kind as to keep your laughing to a quiet minimum if you happen to bump into me while I’m wearing them?

Bellanda ®

Bellanda ®

UPDATE:  Thanks to one of my Twitter contacts, I have a wonderful example of a female artist who received permission to “cross-dress”  from the Paris Préfecture de Police in 1857. Thank you, Rosa, for paving the way for us women.

Here are the links that I received from my Twitter contact about Rosa Bonheur (Thank you, Tim) : http://invisiblebordeaux.blogspot.fr/2013/11/rosa-bonheur-world-famous-bordeaux-born.html http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Permission_de_travestissement_Rosa_Bonheur.jpg