Monday, February 25, 2013

Jose Rizal in Paris

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Following this blog post, I have made a promise to retrace Jose Rizal's footsteps here in France. And just last week, I have had the most delightful occasion to visit Paris with my husband. Luckily enough, the apartment of our friend, who accommodated us was just a few blocks away from Jose Rizal's traces.

For those who are not familiar with Jose Rizal, he is a Philippine National Hero. He was a great influence in the history of Philippine Independence from 333 years of Spanish rule. I am not quite sure what a National Hero (as proclaimed by the Americans during their occupation of the Philippines) really means, but I mostly like him because he is quite an intriguing and fascinating person.

Jose Rizal was a doctor, a writer, an artist, and above all, for me, an indefatigable traveler. During his time, which was in the late 19th century, he traveled to Europe for his medical studies. He was particulary in Paris for a few months from 1885-86 for his apprenticeship in opthalmology under Louis de Weckert, and then again later on, to witness the World Exposition of 1889. It was during this year that the Eiffel Tower was completed. What a wonderful and romantic time to live in.

image source: wikipedia

Anyway, back to the present... on our way to our friend's apartment in the 10th arrondissement, we passed by Place Jose Rizal in the 9th arrondissement. I was quite disappointed to find that it was just a small island in the middle of the street with a couple of seats in it. But I was quite happy to be there and take pictures.

A small island in the middle of the road, announcing itself as "Place Jose Rizal"

We also visited the Hotel de Paris where Jose Rizal stayed while he was in Paris. This was just a few meters'  walk from Place Jose Rizal.

The small entrance door to the Hotel de Paris

this is right on the entrance of Hotel de Paris, it says "Jose Rizal, Philippine national hero, writer, doctor, stayed here in 1883"
 I was expecting to see Jose Rizal's bust inside the hotel, as I have read about its existence somewhere on the internet. But I didn't see any. And when we inquired about it at the hotel's reception, the receptionist did not know anything about it. He was kind enough, though, to give us their phone number to call later, or to come back to make inquiries with his boss who will be arriving at the hotel in the evening. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time, and we didn't bother calling and/or coming back. I was happy enough to be there and take some pictures just the same.

Jose Rizal (in-between two guys), fencing with Juan Luna (left) at the Luna residence in Paris; image taken from

My husband was telling me about how the area was not the nicest area in Paris. I told him that even then, during Rizal's time, this area was where all the students and struggling artists lived. At least according to what I have read on some web sites.

Wandering around in the non-touristic areas, it is quite interesting to note how one small street can look ghetto-ish, and then at the next turn, you find yourself staring at beautiful apartments in a seemingly posh environment. But I can only wonder how it was during the time of Jose Rizal.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Paris gastronomie, etc

cette semaine, j'ai eu l'occasion de visiter Paris avec mon mari. on était la-bàs pour aller à l'ambassade des états-unis pour prendre un visa.

on avait vraiment de la chance parce que mon mari a beaucoup d'amis à Paris qui sont très gentils de nous offrir un logement.

on a resté dans l'appartement de l'un des nos amis qui se trouve pratiquement pas loin de l'ambassade. mais c'était une très bonne surprise quand on est arrivé dans cet appartement parce que c'était très, très sympa et charmant.

notre ami nous a dit que le propriétaire de son appartement est une Singapourienne. et c'est pour ça que les meubles viennent d'Asie.

inside the bedroom -- he even has his own walk-in closet (yes, he is a "he", a straight "he") as in!!! i'm so inggit (jealous).

c'était aussi pratique pour aller au restaurant qui était choisi par mon mari.

apparament, ce restaurant qui s'appelle "Saturne" est vraiment spécial. il n'y a que seulement un menu pour le dîner, composé de sept plats.

the bread basket with some aromatic grass at the bottom

this looked like white ashes to me with some leaves and flowers, but it was actually powdered blue cheese with some persil and flowers and some cold puréed herbs beneath. one of my husband's friends said it's disgusting because it tasted like licking his own feet... hmm... i bet my feet wouldn't taste this good. :p
this is the main attraction for me -- beets and smoked eel. very tasty. i was not so much into the large chunk of onion that contains the powdered cold red stuff, though.

this is pigeon. the foot with the claws is optional. i didn't take the clawy foot but my seatmate did.

je trouve les plats un peu bizarres et particuliers. l'un des amis de mon mari trouve le premier plat dégeuelasse et il a dit qu'il se semble comme il lèche ses pieds. :D mais par contre, j'ai vraiment aimé ce premier plat parce que j'était étonée (sur le bon sens du mot) quand le gout a éxplosé dans ma bouche.

bien qu'il y a quelques plats que je n'ai pas vraiment aimé, je dirait que l'ambience n'était pas très posh ou n'était pas très prétentieuse, et la service était impéccable quand meme.

and this was the damage for seven people

surtout, je pense que c'était vraiment une bonne expérience d'avoir diné dans ce restaurant. mais enfin, quand on a reçu l'addition,  je ne peut pas dire la même chose pour mes pôches.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Top Chef

it's the season for Top Chef again. and so also starts the highest high of all drama on French reality TV.

the host and chef judges of the show

everybody knows that France is best known for having the best food in the world. when you say best, first of all, it means the food is fresh, well-grown, and healthy. then, it should also be beautifully presented. lastly, and of course, most importantly, it should taste great.

but to be able to really comprehend the french standard for the "best" food, you have to actually live for a while in France to absorb the culture and the ways of the people here.  and if you have lived here long enough, you will understand that the best food is a product of art, science, mathematics, sweat and blood, and all that drama... and you get to see all of this if you watch Top Chef.

you would actually think that being a woman, and coming from a country with all the sappiest, cheesiest, corniest soap opera in the world, i would be able to completely relate when i watch this TV show with my husband. but to be honest, i have never really been the cheesy type. and on the contrary, the overabundance of maudlin entertainment in the Philippines is one of the reasons that drove me out of the country.

plenty of times in the show, they go on and on about a particular dish as if it's some type of hallucinogenic drug. that's when it gets a bit too much for me. and it doesn't really help that i have never tried any sort of hallucinogenic drug before. the closest would be the anesthesia that i got when i had my c-section. and that was not really a pleasant, albeit, awe-inspiring experience at all.

Papaye-chocolat-orange en trompe l'oeil de carottes rapées (this dish is called a trompe l'oeil, which means to fool the eye. it may seem like grated carrots to you, but it's really grated papaya with chocolate and orange inside.

i must admit though, i get awe-struck despite myself, when i see how much dedication, enthusiasm, hard work and all the effort in the world they muster to be able to achieve perfection in each dish. ça c'est vraiment impressionant. and it definitely makes all the unnecessary drama a lot more bearable and even forgivable.