books

Place Settings #45: February 1, 2015

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Eat | Definitely a what’s-left-in-my-refrigerator kind of breakfast. Egg-in-a-hole, avocado, and bacon.

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Drink | It looks like a beer, but it’s not. It’s a can of Guayaki yerba mate in a pretty glass. Yerba mate is a plant in the holly family that can be brewed like tea to make a tasty beverage. I wasn’t really familiar with it until I spent a month in Berlin and was converted into a Club Mate addict. Club Mate is head and shoulders and torso above any other yerba mate drink I’ve ever encountered and it’s very difficult to find in the US, a fact that makes me cry every so often. (more…)

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Place Settings #44: January 25, 2015

IMG_4289Eat | These are bacon pancakes with a blob of avocado mash. They were delicious and super easy to make: I just chopped up some bacon, cooked it, and added it to the pancake mix.

Drink | More Baruir’s coffee.

Read | Still going strong with Moby Dick. As I read, this book keeps getting higher on my list of favorite books. Whales are constantly on my mind — I went on an extended YouTube deep dive of whale documentaries — and the infamous whale chapters are actually the best ones. (more…)

Place Settings #31: March 2, 2014

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Eat: This is yet another installment of I-need-to-go-grocery-shopping cooking. I scrambled some eggs, finished off some sad lettuce, and topped a baguette with goat cheese and avocado. I ran 16 miles this morning as part of my marathon training, which means I’ll be spending the rest of the day eating and napping.

Drink: Nespresso, or I would have fallen asleep immediately after my post-run shower. (more…)

Place Settings #30: February 23, 2014

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Eat: I had a delicious pita creation from Miznon, the shorter-lined (though still pretty packed) neighbor of the famous L’As du Fallafel. I met my friend Josh there for lunch before he flew back to New York, and while it occurred to me to whip out my camera and start snapping, I honestly just wanted to perch at the crowded bar, watch the cooks churn out pitas, and hear about Josh’s recent trip to Rome. Plus, let’s be real, I was also starving and anxious to inhale my food. Long story short, no food pictures today, so enjoy this view of Our Lady instead.

Drink: Water. Earlier, coffee, of course.

Read: Also not pictured here for obvious reasons, is Infinite Jest. I’m still on pace to finish by the end of February, so this is the last time I’ll be featuring it in Place Settings. It feels a little premature to talk about it definitively since I still have about 180 pages left to go, so maybe I’ll do a special IJ post when I finish.

What follows is surely one of the most obnoxious sentences I’ve ever written, but I’m going to say it anyway: Reading Infinite Jest is turning into a very meta experience for me. A few weeks ago, I assigned myself a certain number of pages to read every day to make sure I finish the book by the end of the month, which has definitely influenced how I interact with the text. (more…)

The Paris Bookshelf, Part II

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I already blabbed on about some books about Paris, but I now present you with the books that actually came to Paris with me. As you might imagine based on the troubles I encountered packing my clothes, it was not easy for me to decide who was cool enough to make the trip. Books are heavy and, according to some outside sources whom I consulted mid-packing crisis, “non-essential items.” I of course beg to differ, and if the cost of bringing Borges and Wallace with me is a restricted range of sartorial options, then I shall simply have to look like a fashion-challenged but well-read slob while I’m here. C’est la vie.

Some books were no-brainers: the aforementioned Michelin Green Guide, Papa’s A Moveable Feast, and Marcel Proust’s In the Shadow of Young Girls in FlowerYou can’t come to Paris without both literal and literary guidebooks, plus I need Marcel to write my other blog, so he got an automatic berth. Being seen with either the Green Guide or the Hemingway in public would be a bit damaging to my attempts to seem like une vraie Parisienne (sometimes if I sense skepticism on the part of a shop clerk, I’ll choose to pay with my French bank card as if to validate my existence here, which now that I think about it, probably lowers their estimation of me given my terrible French, as if I’m telling them, “Yes, I live here but am making zero effort to speak your language properly.”), but they are consulted weekly in the privacy of my apartment.  (more…)

Place Settings #25: January 19, 2014

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Eat: Fromage cremeux, eggs scrambled with bacon, and avocado on a baguette. I moved out of my host/employer’s guest room and into her spare apartment this week (hence the slower posting), so I was finally able to go grocery shopping and have my own food around. I will never be able to eat enough French bread or eggs (cheese goes without saying).

Drink: Nespresso seems to be the national beverage over here. Every home I’ve been to has one, and many restaurants use Nespresso machines. Pod coffee is not my favorite, so I’m brainstorming alternatives. The real obstacle is getting my hands on a decent burr grinder. Decent burr grinders aren’t the cheapest, but they are essential for everything (including cold brewing). Still meditating on this one. Maybe I’ll just drink tea at home and pop over to Le Bal when I want a real cup of coffee.

Read: I’m working on finishing Never Any End to Paris (I forgot how much reading time Proust takes up). It is strange reading it having just moved here. Sometimes Vila-Matas references a specific location in Paris or a particular French attitude and I enjoy recognizing it, but most of the time, I feel like he is discussing a completely different city. Of course, on some level he is discussing a different city: mid-1970s Paris rather than 2014 Paris. I can barely imagine the New York City of the mid-1970s, so I don’t even attempt to claim knowledge of how much Paris has changed in the past 40 years.  (more…)

The Paris Bookshelf

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To prepare for my upcoming move to France, I’ve been (re-)reading several books about Paris. Some of them are true guidebooks and some of them are more like travel inspiration. I think we travel to see (and eat, in my case) certain things, but sometimes also because we hope to feel a certain way while we’re there. I’ve assembled a short shelf that covers both of these traveling desires, whether you are planning a trip to Paris or you just want to escape through the page. (more…)

Place Settings #19: November 24, 2013

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Eat: Thai leftovers. I’ve been out of town for four of the past five weekends, which I think entitles me to be a gross slob at home this weekend.

Drink: Harney & Sons’ Paris tea. There was a cold snap in New York overnight and today is perfect for fuzzy socks and lots of hot tea. According to Harney & Sons’ website: “Our Paris tea was created by Mike in homage to Paris, where Mike enjoyed many a pot of tea at the famous Paris tea shops. This blend is reminiscent of one of the most popular blends in Paris. It is a fruity black tea with vanilla and caramel flavors, and a hint of lemony Bergamot.”

Read: I’ve been reading two small volumes this week: Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener and Paul Auster’s The Red Notebook. I finally got around to reading the first of these after I read and loved Enrique Villa Matas’ Bartleby & Co. four years ago. Melville’s story is about a Wall Street clerk who one day starts saying, “I prefer not to.” to every task presented to him. There are a multitude of effects, from the adoption by Bartleby’s officemates of the word “prefer” in every possible context, to the narrator (Bartleby’s boss) moving to a different office building to get rid of him, to scandalized rumors that run through the Wall Street legal gossip circle.  (more…)

500 Thank Yous

I have a somewhat self-promotional announcement to make today: I have 500 subscribers! I try not to think about this too much because it makes me nervous and messes up my writing, but I’m letting myself think about it today. Knowing you all are out there is so much more satisfying than I thought it would be and your comments always make my day. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this blog!

As a thank you, I thought I would do a quick giveaway. Since many of you discovered Sunnyside Tuxedo via the Freshly Pressed post, the winner will receive a copy of his or her choice of the following three books with a personalized dedication: Girl With Curious Hair, Swann’s Wayor Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, PerishClick through for the rules and details. (more…)