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An American in (and outside of) Paris

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"Je pense donc je suis" - Descartes, un francais. 17eme siecle.   "Je raconte donc je suis" - Chambo, an American. Twenty-first century.     I'm as free as free can be.   I move about with the

Pompéi - un art de vivre. Musée Maillol.   A painted Dionysus, the god of wine, welcomes you.   It's always fascinating to look at man-made objects from almost 2000 years ago.   Plenty of kitc

Believe it or not, some people still don't understand what this thread is all about. If you're too lazy to follow the link, here is it front and center:   Is it about food? Yes, to a certain extent

Merci merci merci merci.


I am indeed a grownup ... sort of.


That said, my spiritual mentor who is no longer with us wished for me two important things and I now wish them for myself :


Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.





... but I couldn't find A Maltese in Paris.


Life is full of unexpected events and coincidences.


I couldn't find one in Paris but I shacked up with one in New York. A Maltese, that is. A Maltese national. A guy, not a dog.


Upon returning to NYC from Paris, an old (ie previous) girlfriend insisted that I stay with her. She loved my father. And my father, her. She had been planning on joining me in NJ on Dad's birthday to see him one last time. Didn't happen.


I spoke with her immediately after Dad's death. She told me that she recently moved into a new Long Island City apartment with her current squeeze - Mr. Maltese (yes, he's from Malta). She said I should stay with them since I was arriving JFK at night. I looked at a map, learned where Long Island City was, saw that it made some good sense and agreed. I then asked "Who'll be sleeping in the guest bedroom ? Me or him ? "


Answer: me. And he was a nice guy.


Drinks at Dutch Kills until delirious that night. Sunday brunch at the Sage General Store. And then Chambo's off to the Garden State to meet the grieving family.




There are many grieving families in the world ... including the family of Aaron Swartz.


What a sad sad tragedy. This kid was truly brilliant. A tad mischievous, a tad complicated, but brilliant with a capital BEE.


A force for good, not bad. But that capital in DC didn't see it that way. Our saviors at the Justice Department saw a criminal.


Aaron committed suicide. Real real sad.




Yes, in those dark dark hours, we have all pondered that lingering essential question. Even Chambo ...

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Être, ou ne pas être, telle est la question.


Twenty squared and eight (or nine, but who's counting) years ago, this prose was put to paper and "properly" published in public. In English. In the Second Quarto.


I say "properly" because we all know that the First Quarto was printed 20 score and 10 years ago and it was not quite as catchy: "To be, or not to be, I there's the point".


To be, or not to be, that is the question.


Arguably the most well-known verse in all of English literature. A uni-verse unto itself.


The existential suicidal question par excellence.


There's no hiding from it in those worst of times. It faces us all. It must be confronted. It was front and center in December in my mind's eye.


Thankfully I wasn't left by myself to skin this question alive. Another reasonable attempt preceded me.


Hence, two (in)famous characters forced to wrestle this alligator in public: Hamlet and Chambo.


Characters of eerily similar gravitas and complexity and reknown upon the world stage.


Hamlet - known for his outrageous outbursts at The Globe Theatre.


Chambo - known for his anti-social antics on The World Wide Web.


Hamlet - a Prince of the Kingdom of Denmark.


Chambo - a Citizen-Servant of the Illustrious Mouthfuls Nation.


I could go on and on with the comparisons... but you'd probably stop reading.



Although separated by centuries and royal rank, we both lost fathers and shortly thereafter started thinking those dark thoughts.


We had to answer the question and we did. And we both answered it in the affirmative.


Affirmatively but differently, for we lived different lives with different experiences which resulted in different soliloquies ...



To be, or not to be, that is the question.


I choose To Be without question.


I choose To Be and not Not To Be.

For it is noble, in my mind, to suffer.

For my life is outrageous Fortune.

For my current sea of troubles is but

A mere dear teardrop and the dollar.


I choose Not To Die.

I choose to sleep. I choose to dream more.

I choose to bear the whips and scorns of time.

I choose to bear my flesh and bear my soul.

I choose the Calamity of a long life, if offered.


I'm Chambo and I choose To Be.



"Keep Calm and Carry on." - some British bloke. Four score minus seven years ago.


"Keep a Stiff Upper Lip." - some other British bloke. Not sure when.


"We affirm Life by talking and thinking about Death, not choosing Death." - Chambo, an American. Recently.



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My sincere sympathies to Chambo and all those who are recovering from family losses. I am so old that I long ago lost both parents as well as all of my siblings. I now realize that people live as long as they can...then they die. We can't ask more of them.

We keep them alive by recalling daily the happy, often silly moments we shared with them. Remembering love, even when it was expressed in ways we little understood at the time.

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  • 1 year later...
A belated merci for those words of condolence and an equally belated merci to those who shared that they too are sans papa.
Now, on to important things ...


In quite possibly the best double-entendre of a name ever, the Times reports that Bâtard (named after a wine region in Burgundy ...)


Considering that this is such an egregious error that has gone appallingly uncorrected for many months now (and has caused dear Chambo to correspondingly be unable to get a good night's sleep since seeing it), dear Chambo shall hereby set the story straight.


Bâtard is NOT a wine region in Burgundy, full stop.


In fact, all by its lonesome, Bâtard is pretty much nothing ! However, append a hyphen and a capitalized Montrachet to it ... ahhhhh ... ahhhhh ... then the grand cru magic begins.


Simply put, Bâtard is a word that appears in the name of 3 GRAND CRU white wines in Burgundy ... specifically Bâtard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet and Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet.


These grand crus are located in the villages of Puligny-Montrachet and/or Chassagne-Montrachet. As soon will dear Chambo.


That is, dear Chambo will soon be located in said sleepy villages and he'll soon be slurping down pretty much everything to be found in the cellars of these sellers.


Indeed, dear Chambo is shivering with delight to reunite and carry-on with le vigneron Jacques Carillon.


And I'll have you oenophiles note that the former Domaine Louis Carillon was broken in two a few years ago and is now run as two distinct domaines by the two sons ... Domaine Jacques Carillon and Domaine Francois Carillon.


I'm too tight with Jacques to consider going elsewhere. That said, Jacques is a real bâtard because, as I said, I'll soon be slurping and swallowing (and surely NOT spitting) pretty much everything he has.


And therein lies the problem !


You see, dear Chambo won't be slurping down EVERYTHING cuz Frère Jacques usually don't offer up any of his oh-so-precious Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. What type of welcome is that, I ask ! In my self-centered estimation, je trouve Jacques-too-tight avec son Bâtard.


Looking at it a bit more objectively, I guess it might have to do with the measly modest 1/8 of a hectare he inherited :





Now, I'll have you know that Monsieur Mugnier does not treat Chambo in this same way.


You see, his Musigny is always offered up free to me and I have yet to have un cauchemar due to lack of his Bonne Mares.


And such generosity always happens after he hands me his Amoureuses. I breathe in ... and in and in ... with mine eyes closed and then I taste her. And with these few fine words, I flatter him with the truth ... "Ah yes, it's true, this should be a grand cru too."


Well, let's hope nothing's changed when me and Mugnier meet next week ...




Ya know, when Chambo's in Mugnier's chateau, somehow I kinda feel like I'm home sweet home ...

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Enjoy P-M, Chambolle. For a down-to-earth dinner in the area, or for just hanging out, please visit rustic little Auberge du Vieux Vigneron in Corpeau, a couple of km from P-M. (You could easily walk there should you feel the urge.) Real people eat here. And real people cook and serve. A refreshing change from the haute-wine-tourist haunts. Jean-Charles is a sweet host.



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Alabaster ... very good. ... 200 Euros (not to mention the comping)


la coruna ... cultural difficulties ... old school ... ... ... ... ... ... murder...Spanish cuisine...in that neighborhood



Did I ever tell you how very much I hate hate hate Madrilenos !


[squeaky, high-pitched, annoying voice] "Alabaster is so so so very good." [/squeaky voice]


Those big-swinging, big city-slicker bigshots ... spending hundreds of euros for a meal when that's what we Galician good-for-nuttins pay as our quarterly rent.


Then these marvelous Madrilenos are comping here, comping there, comping left, comping right ... trying to buy us off, buy r stuff, steal r seafood and dash away with r dignity.


Income inequality is increasingly inexcusably incomprehensible in Iberia !


I must now reveal who I really am. Many of you know me as Chambolle. I'm not. That was just a cover. Fooled ya !


In fact, I'm sadly but truly El Chambo Gallego, un pauvre percebes plunger who supplies the best local tables with the best barnacles a la goose. And yes, I live in La Coruna (aka A Coruna).


You can read more about me here :




So why the outrage ?


First of all, that Alabaster meal looks like crap. And way way overpriced. Any true, native Galician would tell you so !


But more importantly, we Galicians are a poor yet proud people. And sensitive too. Very !


Many of you non-Galicians may not have noticed but if you read his words carefully and read between the lines, you see the true intent and the true disdain and contempt that those Madrilenos have for folks like us. We who have "cultural difficulties" !!! We who are "old school" ... just say it ! just say we're a backwards people !!! And to add insult to injury, we Galicians, in our calm quiet corner of Spain, MURDER Spanish cuisine !!! !!! It's almost too much to take ...


You see, pretty much any typical meal in Galicia (or northern Spain for that matter) is going to be way better than that Alabaster disaster.


Since the proof is in the pudin, El Chambo Gallego with provide proof with pictures ...


1. Salmon in a Can - okay, let's be honest ... that Alabaster salmon looks seriously grody!


In Northern Spain, there is the good sense to start with olives in a can.


Then, if you insist on eating (grody) salmon in a can, you can place this beautiful morsel in the now-empty can if you are so inclined.






2. Sardines on Toast - the only reason that a restaurant would serve sardines on TOAST would be to slyly fill you up so that they can henceforth skimp on shrimp or bogavante or on some other expensive shellfish. At that, Alabaster is the master !


Even with perfect specimen sardines, you should still show a smidgen of chef-iness ...









3. Salpicon de Bogavante - is it just me or does it look like Alabaster is substituting Starkist tuna for the cherished crustacean ! And do I see little pink chunks of Spam towards that bottom dish ! Ewwwwww gross, seriously disgusting ... repulsive even !


Here are examples of what a real salpicon de bogavante should look like ...


I mean, even in San Sebastian, they know how to make the dish (and yes, it's a half portion)...




As you head west along the coast, no worries (and yes, it's a half-portion) ...






And there is nothing wrong with mixing things up a bit and doing a salpicon de bogavante y centolla as they sometimes do in La Coruna ...




But if you are going to introduce centolla into the picture, you might as well just go "whole hog" and get serious about your centolla eating ...









I could continue if you want me to but it's just going to get more and more embarrassing for the Madrileno ...

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Okay, since you insist, I'll continue ...


4. The fried artichoke monstrosity - considering that the madrileno had the honesty to admit that it was total crapola, I'll move along.


5. Merluza with window-washing-fluid sauce - once again, kudos to the madrileno for recognizing a sauce fit for a janitor.


Merluza is magnificent here in La Coruna.


El Chambo Gallego could show you numerous examples but I'm quickly reaching my yearly bandwidth limit here in NW Spain so this will have to suffice ...






You guys do know that guisantes are a good thing, right ...




6. Carabineros and pochas - As a Northern Spaniard, I don't approve of the combination.


Why ? Go to Ibai ... pochas should be served clean in order to focus on the bean and the broth ...




I mean, what is the master of disaster Alabaster going to do next ? Throw in some hake cheeks for added texture ???




In La Coruna, we believe that a more appropriate dish is arroz caldosa de carabineros ... and clams never hurt nobody ...




But truth be told, in Galicia, we prefer bogavante to carabineros in our rice dishes ... and for good reason ...




And we also insist on nice views while eating ...




7. Wine - 80 euros on booze? Whoa cowboy ! Either someone stole your horse or you be drinking by the gallon ... even the good stuff ...




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