Yes, I know it's not March quite yet. But my internet provider cut my line a few weeks earlier than the date (um, the month) that we agreed upon, and

   
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Yes, I know it's not March quite yet.

But my internet provider cut my line a few weeks earlier than the date (um, the month) that we agreed upon, and as the late, great Whitney Houston said, "No matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity." And darn it, I said I would write a monthly newsletter and even though not everyone seems to be able to keep a promise around here (as in, which date they will disconnect my internet), here I am.

I've been scrambling around the last few weeks emptying the refrigerator and my cabinets, making everything from wild rice salad with tahini to egg salad with an exotic spice and a secret ingredient, as well as taking one last desperate stab at granola bars.

moving mixers

All packed up, and ready to go...

So I'm writing this in my last few days of being in my old apartment, where I'm not only surrounded by piles of boxes, but where I've also been whipping up brownies for the workers in my new place, which I've been spiking with espresso for nefarious reasons. But it's been long few months. Actually, it's been nearly a year since I signed the papers on my apartment until I actually move into it, which is pretty amazing if you ask me. Paris is a great place although it's pretty challenging getting things done. Another factor was that I'm a newbie and had to learn everything from where to get faucets and tiles, to learning what the word is for those small windows in underground caves…those which lurk beneath most buildings in Paris.

(They're called sousperaille, although I'm not sure that's the correct spelling because 1) None of my French friends know what I'm talking about, and 2) It's not even in my French dictionary...although the other seven words in French for window – fenêtre, vitre, glace, citrine, vitrail, and devanture, are.)

The good news is that I'm going to have a place of my own in Paris, a three-room "studio" of sorts, with a large kitchen melded with a living room, an office, and a bedroom. Until the last few weeks, the contractors didn't quite understand when I kept saying "Plus large! Plus large!" for the kitchen counter, as my dream was to have a very large countertop where I could spread things out, which was going to be like finally being able to breathe after being cramped into a compact kitchen for the past decade.

Buying an apartment in Paris has been an eye-opening (and sometimes jaw-dropping) experience and at one point, I was thinking "Why is this guy trying to sell his apartment when he and his agent seem to be doing everything they can not to sell it?" But eventually things progressed and after eight months of signing papers, interminable meetings, an invasive physical exam to determine if I was worthy of a bank loan (when I asked why, they said, "We want to make sure you're not going to die" – um, am glad that they care so much!), construction finally started.

I wasn't quite prepared for them to demolish everything. And for months, the whole place was a mass of debris and dust and I could barely see it. But finally as mid-February rolled around, things cleared out a bit, tile got laid, holes for lights were bored, and electrical wires were buried behind walls. And back at home, I finally began to pack up my things.

(And let me tell you, collecting empty boxes from behind my neighborhood restaurants, and reading the labels of what was formerly in them, made me glad that I didn't patronize most of them.)

However the last week of February culminated in me waking up one morning to find that not only did my telephone service get cut off, but also my internet and television. In France, they're bundled in what's known as a bouquet. Which is great since all your services are with the same company…until something goes wrong. Somehow, someone there decided to switch my service prematurely to my new address, where nothing existed but bare walls and wires dangling everywhere. (And for some reason, I found a box with one condom in it on the site one day. I'm not sure what that meant, but decided it might I feel a little funny asking about it.)

Since mobile phone providers in France are rather, um, parsimonious with minutes (I currently pay €44 a month and get a whopping one hour of talk time), I decided to upgrade to a plan with more than sixty minutes since I was fielding calls from contractors and others during the hectic period. And without a land line, I was going solo with my mobile. After going through all the various plans and paperwork, as soon as I signed all the forms in the mobile phone store, the fellow told me that my new plan with more time, would take effect March 12, which was 16 days away.

Which meant I only had 47 minutes of talk time to last me two-and-a-half weeks. I'm not good at math, so I'll let you figure that out, but I've gotten pretty good at banging my head on counters in shops, which is what I actually did in the store. Sorry, no pics of that, or the bruises on my head.

Fortunately we repaired to Al Taglio for pizza and a much-needed carafe of white wine – the balm that cures all around here - and (almost) all was better. And hopefully by the time you read this, I will no longer be sitting in a crowded café writing a newsletter, but in my new kitchen, with a real oven, wood floors, illumination, and perhaps even an internet connection and a phone.

Unfortunately due to a bureaucratic snafu, I won't have a shower or bathtub for the next few months - or at the rate things get approved, perhaps years - so perhaps as time goes by, if I don't get online in my new place, I'll have a little more breathing room in the cafés as folks position their chairs away from me. And if you see someone in Paris walking around, toting a towel, invite him inside for a shower.

And perhaps a little WiFi action, if you can spare it.

-David

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Interesting Finds This Month

Dropbox: I resist trying all the "new" things that everyone is always talking about because I just don't have time to take on another big piece of technology at the moment. Because invariably once you start using something, you need to come up with another set of passwords and log-in information to remember. Then once you've got it all figured out, they "update" it and you have to re-learn how you use it. However I finally got Dropbox, which allows you to "drop" documents and pictures into a simple box on your computer, or e-tablet or smartphone, and you can retrieve it from your other devices. It's great for moving things around and storage. And the basic plan is free.

Pinterest: There's so many social media networks that it can be overwhelming to keep up with them. But I kept dropping and checking out Pinterest, a place where people share pictures of interiors and kitchens (I found my bathroom fixtures through a photo on there), as well as food, photography, and fashion. (Although I'm still unsure why so many people "pin" pictures of slender, leggy young women in shorts with sandals, playing with their hair.)

I'm still trying to figure it out and some folks have brought up copyright issues about how images are shared and used. But presumably they will work all that stuff out. If you're already on Pinterest, or just want to check it out, I'm at Pinterest.com/davidlebovitz

Kitchen Calculator: I've spent quite a bit of time working on recipes conversions, since I write in both standard and metric measurements. And I recently found a very good app that does it for you (darn it, why didn't I think of that?) Kitchen Calculator will take a variety of measurements - you choose - then converts them into whatever units you want. I like its simplicity and ease of use.

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home items

Stuff in my kitchen that I'm using up...

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Recent Posts and Recipes

New Digs

The first post about my new apartment. "Yikes!", you'll say..when you see what condition it was in.

American versus French Refrigerators

While shopping for refrigerators, and leafing through American culinary magazines, I was amused to find examples of how each half thinks the other half lives!

Egg Salad

It's probably been a decade since I've made egg salad. But with an overload of eggs, I rediscovered a well-loved classic, and added a new twist.

Panforte

I forgot how much I love panforte until I baked up a spicy example of this Tuscan fruit confection.

Helmut Newcake

Aside from my mobile phone company - who thinks that we are still living in 1993 when one hour of talk time seemed like manna from heaven – all of Paris isn't necessarily stuck in the past. A number of people are finding out that they are sensitive to gluten and I'm happy to report that Paris finally has a gluten-free bakery so no one is left out.

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My Blog Goes Mobile-Friendly

If you have a mobile device, my blog is now available in a mobile-friendly version. To use it, just open the site and create an icon on your home page. On an iPhone, open the home page of the site in Safari then tap on the icon at the bottom with an arrow. Tap "Add to Home Screen", which will add an icon for the site.

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Okay folks, well that's it for this month. I hope that wherever you are, spring is starting to rear it's sunny head. I love that moment when I start seeing apples and pears giving way to local rhubarb and strawberries at the market, fresh asparagus and fava beans, and then the cavalcade of summer fruits, such as apricots, peaches, and cherries.

And I'm looking forward to having a kitchen to bake up in, too...

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