Entries in Recommended Reading (8)
Herb Lester, a British company that makes beautifully-designed maps printed on recycled paper with a quirky retro feel, has come out with a new specialty map, Paris: Small Shops. Written by the Paris-based writer Anne Stark Ditmeyer of Prêt à Voyager. It includes 40 small boutiques, many of them dating back several hundred years or hidden in secret passages. Other Paris maps in the collection include Paris en Famille, Paris for Pleasure-Seekers, and It’s Nice to be Alone in Paris. All maps are available on the Herb Lester website for £4 each, or you can ask for them at your local bookstore.
Trying to find a decent place to eat in Paris is only half the battle. Then you have to figure out what's on the menu. Even when you're fluent in French it's not always easy to understand exactly what to expect in a dish when you order, even if you're sure it's "something with duck and potatoes" or "a white fish with vegetables". Menus translated into English by well-meaning establishments often provide some good laughs, if not appetizing or even accurate descriptions. "Burnt cream" for crème brûlée is one thing, but translating a crottin de chèvre salad as a "goat turd salad" might dissuade most diners.
Bon Appétit is the latest English-French food dictionary from Gourmet Guides destined to help decipher French menus: "The purpose of this small volume is to aid the memory, to describe what gastronomic delight, or the opposite, is awaiting those who might order that otherwise unknown. It is also intended to help the adventurous, who seek out new or unusual dishes, to make the most of whatever is on offer. And it aims to avoid those sometimes comical translations often to be found even in the finest establishments." They sent me a copy of the pocket booklet to check out, and I've found it quite handy and easy to carry in a small purse. The print guide is currently on sale for €3.25 (usually 4.99) through the Gourmet Guides website. If you have an iPhone there's also an app in iTunes for €0.99.
Win a Free Gourmet Guide
Share your own French menu translation mix-ups or mistranslations in the comments section below before September 23rd and we'll send a free copy of the Bon Appétit print guide to the two we like best (we ship anywhere in the world by La Poste).
Spotted last week on the menu in a little bistro at St-Germain-des-Prés, compotée de figues (stewed figs, chutney-like consistncy) translated into English as "stewed prickly pear". I'm sure they got this from accidentally translating Figues de Barbarie, or "Barbary Figs" (which are prickly pear fruits, totally edible and not so bad -- the jam is often sold in Arizona souvenir shops) instead of just translating figues into "figs".
Updated on Friday, January 16, 2015 by Heather Stimmler-Hall
A cruise on the Seine, kissing on the Eiffel Tower, a show at the Moulin Rouge, dinner at the Tour d’Argent...despite the tired clichés, Paris still has all the right ingredients for an unforgettable rendez-vous that fits any couple’s definition of romance.
Paris expat Stephen Clarke is the author of the best-selling series of "Merde" novels such as A Year in the Merde and books about France and its people such as Talk to the Snail and -- one of my favorite history books -- 1000 Years of Annoying the French. Earlier this week I met up with Stephen at Café Le Nemours on Place Colette (outside the Palais Royal) to chat about his latest novel about the adventures of Paul West and his motley gang of Parisian friends and co-workers: The Merde Factor (available in France and the UK now, coming to the US end of October).
San Francisco-based mystery writer Cara Black is known for her “Aimée Leduc Investigation” series set in Paris, including Murder in the Marais, Murder in the Palais Royal, Murder in the Latin Quarter, Murder in Passy, and the latest release, Murder at the Lanterne Rouge, set in the tiny Chinatown on the edge of the Marais. She’s become a veritable guide to murder in Paris! Since Cara spends a lot of time sniffing around the lesser-known areas of the city for research, I asked if she could share her own favorite Secrets of Paris.