by jemma margaret
Despite the best efforts of l’Académie française, some mots anglais have crept into the Gallic dialect. Though “cool” “business” and “shopping” all have legitimate French equivalents, you are just as likely to hear the English version accompanied by an appropriate article and accent.
Other concepts are just so foreign that it’s English or nothing. Take, for example, one of the things I miss most about living stateside (or in Vancouver): le compost. Paris throws everything in the trash, except cigarette butts, which is quickly collected before any potential rat problems might emerge. In the Bay Area and Vancouver composting is effortless. Just put your food scraps in the appropriate bin and let the city figure out the mucky details (in San Francisco this even includes take out Chinese containers!). In New York a bit more effort is required. Compost is collected at some farmer’s markets. So I spent my three years in Brooklyn (and all subsequent trips home) with a freezer full of orange peels, peach pits, squash guts, and moldy tortillas. Then, once a week, I would schlep this frozen garbage to Union Square or Fort Greene Park and dump it into bins alongside other self-righteous conservatives. En route, I would imagine the bizarre ensuing scene should someone try to steal my bag.
Central Park is now the safest precinct in the five boroughs and New York is no longer the gritty hotbed of crime that it represented in all eighties literature and film. On the other hand, les pickpockets are still (allegedly) a reality in le Paris. And while my bag on le métro this morning did contain two macbook airs, they were accompanied by a bag of chicken bones. Happily, (and perhaps in part due to my very effective crime prevention strategy) all contents made it safely back to my apartment where some of them were put into a pot of boiling water for a few hours.
As the Americans might say, “Bon Appétit!”