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Gourmet magazine on Paris


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Apparently, the current issue of Gourmet magazine has a special feature on Paris, describing what's buzzing in the 11th, 12th, 9th, 10th, 19th and 20th arrondissements.

One thing I couldn't figure out, though, is their use of the term "new left bank" to describe these neighborhoods. At first I assumed it was a way of comparing them to some old image of Montparnasse or something, but with the sidebar on "Paris's Left Bank Neighborhoods" I suddenly got the sense that they actually think, well, that those arrondissements are on the left bank.

Thoughts?

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maybe the 'chic' arrondisements are normally on the left bank of paris but the magazine is saying that the new 'chic' arrondisements to eat at are in the right bank. thats why they said that these arrondisements are the 'new left bank'?

i had seen this article before.. most restaurants on the list are closed as this is august but i did try Bistro Chartier on the 9eme. Had my first ever tete de veau. didn't really enjoy it but maybe its something that you have to get used to , haha.

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Apparently, the current issue of Gourmet magazine has a special feature on Paris, describing what's buzzing in the 11th, 12th, 9th, 10th, 19th and 20th arrondissements.

One thing I couldn't figure out, though, is their use of the term "new left bank" to describe these neighborhoods. At first I assumed it was a way of comparing them to some old image of Montparnasse or something, but with the sidebar on "Paris's Left Bank Neighborhoods" I suddenly got the sense that they actually think, well, that those arrondissements are on the left bank.

Thoughts?

I'm certain that Alec Lobrano, after 20 some odd years in Paris didn't come up with that title; editors at work I suspect.

Alert readers may recall that The Wall Street Journal said December 10-11th, 2005, that the “Trendy….New ‘Hood” was to be found in the 10th, 11th, 19th and 20th. Interesting concordance, eh?

Felice sent me the link a bit back and I wasn't aware Gourmet had such a dedicated site.

John Talbott

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I don't think the words "new left bank" applied to any part of the right bank have any meaning in a Parisian context. I don't think any Parisian would think of it, at any rate I have never heard it. Each neighborhood is enjoyed in its own right and besides the mentioned parts of the right bank have been trendy for quite a while now.

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The sub-head to the article does say "the scene has moved-across the Seine-to a collection of fringe neighborhoods..."  so I assume they're not geographically challenged at Gourmet.

It is the idea that any scene has "moved across the Seine" that does not correspond to any reality. In terms of Parisian life that has no meaning at all. Trendy neighborhoods don't move across the city like swarms of bees moving to new hives, but the trendiness or gentrification factor of each area evolves over time, in their own way. No one ever said back in the 1950s that Saint-Germain-des-Prés was the new Montparnasse.

Besides, when was the left bank trendy for the last time? Early 1970s, at the latest. :hmmm:

Edited by Ptipois (log)
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Ptipois, yes, obviously it is an ungainly and hopelessly médiatique title.

What alarmed me was the sidebar (as it appears when one opens each article):

ARRONDISSEMENTS OF THE LEFT BANK

9TH / 10TH / 11TH-12TH /19TH-20TH

robyn, I thought that each article was a pretty good rundown of the restaurants people have been talking about for the past three years or so.

Edited by sharonb (log)
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robyn, I thought that each article was a pretty good rundown of the restaurants people have been talking about for the past three years or so.

I'm no Paris dining scene expert, but that's how it strikes me.

The dedicated article on Le Baratin was especially interesting.

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The sub-head to the article does say "the scene has moved-across the Seine-to a collection of fringe neighborhoods..."  so I assume they're not geographically challenged at Gourmet.

It is the idea that any scene has "moved across the Seine" that does not correspond to any reality. In terms of Parisian life that has no meaning at all. Trendy neighborhoods don't move across the city like swarms of bees moving to new hives, but the trendiness or gentrification factor of each area evolves over time, in their own way. No one ever said back in the 1950s that Saint-Germain-des-Prés was the new Montparnasse.

Besides, when was the left bank trendy for the last time? Early 1970s, at the latest. :hmmm:

I finished reading the article today. I think the essence of the article is that once upon a time - the Left Bank was relatively inexpensive - and attracted younger people - artists - writers - intellectuals - immigrants - etc. with little or no money. And those people created a charming bohemian scene. Now that the Left Bank has "grown up" and become gentrified - there are other parts of the city that are like what the Left Bank used to be - ages ago (like when I stayed there in 1968 as a college student).

To use a New York City metaphor (even though I am not from New York) - they are saying that the Left Bank 30 years ago used to be like Greenwich Village 50 years ago. Then when the money moved into Greenwich Village - the "bohemian" scene moved to Soho. And when Soho became gentrified - the scene moved to the East Village. Etc.

FWIW - as a tourist - I find articles like this very unreliable. Because they don't distinguish between neighborhoods which have become pretty nice (even if they are "shabby chic") and those where the re-development is still very spotty - and you don't want to walk around on random dark streets at 10 pm.

Also - regarding the restaurant write-ups - particularly those written by Ruth Reichl - I don't think she dined at these restaurants anonymously. Judging from what I read about a few of them elsewhere - the kind of treatment she got is not what an ordinary tourist is likely to get. Note that her treatment of hotels was very different than her treatment of restaurants (she said one of the hotels was lousy - but didn't mention the name). Perhaps she hasn't written a bad word about a restaurant since she stopped being a restaurant critic and became a glossy magazine editor? Anyway - I would take all of it with the proverbial "grain of salt". Robyn

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FWIW - as a tourist - I find articles like this very unreliable.

Not for the (neighborhood) reasons you give, I echo this observation. Just from examples of restaurants in my city that have been featured in national food/restaurant magazines, I'm completely bewildered by their choice. Projected onto other cities, I can only imagine the kind of hit-and-miss recommendations they offer.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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Coming to you from the very messy water-logged Jacksonville metro area tonight (thank you TS Fay for helping with our drought conditions - although you could have been neater about it) - I agree with you 100%. We don't have many excellent restaurants here (maybe 5 - and although I like them a lot - they are not world class) - but those we have are frequently overlooked by the national media. And the national media tells people to go to "authentic" places in neighborhoods where I wouldn't be caught dead without a bullet proof vest. Or atmospheric "Old Florida" fish camps where they buy all of their stuff frozen - probably not even at Costco - but at Sam's Club. Just like you - I don't get it. Robyn

Edited by robyn (log)
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FWIW - as a tourist - I find articles like this very unreliable.

Not for the (neighborhood) reasons you give, I echo this observation. Just from examples of restaurants in my city that have been featured in national food/restaurant magazines, I'm completely bewildered by their choice. Projected onto other cities, I can only imagine the kind of hit-and-miss recommendations they offer.

I completely agree.

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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I think it's all pretty interesting- nothing "new" though, just lists of the best in each neighbourhood that those living there or who do their research already know.

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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I just read Lobrano's piece over breakfast in my "new left bank" apartment in the 19th. I liked it, in part just because I seem to share his taste in places (in his Hungry for Paris book as well).

But I agree that it's very tricky to talk about these neighborhoods for a non-local (or even real left-bank) audience. The typical Gourmet reader would probably love le Baratin or Chapeau Melon if dropped directly in front by taxi, or led by hand from the swoon-inducing Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. But Belleville, and I say this with a local mailbox and a heart full of love, is a messy, noisy, urine-soaked immigrant district, with plenty of unlovely housing projects. It has bustling low-brow energy in spades and the best dive bars in town, but I don't know many tourists who fly across the ocean to find this. The real left bank, when it was cheap 70 years ago, had/has those magical old buildings, and the Seine just a stroll away.

As for the Reichl article, my favorite part was reading about her experience at Chartier - about not being seated right away and being given the same brusque treatment as everyone else. I'm guessing that hasn't happened to her in quite a few years, and, to her credit, she seemed to enjoy it.

Edited by mzimbeck (log)

Meg Zimbeck, Paris by Mouth

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Mzimbeck - Some people do travel large distances to find neighborhoods like this -searching for new trendy restaurants. When I travel - no matter where - I always like to know what I'm getting into before I enter a strange neighborhood - so I can "govern myself accordingly". In large cities around the world - there are almost always areas that are "down at the heels" - perhaps not overly attractive but safe. Worst you will encounter is an aggressive panhandler (beggar) - or stuff on the street that belongs in bathrooms. Best I can tell - Belleville is in this category. Am I wrong? Then there are areas that are not safe. It's important to know the difference in advance. In some suburbs of Paris - I would not want to walk around - even in broad daylight - wearing a Star of David. Wouldn't be safe.

In Miami - where I used to live - there were signs on the interstate highway which showed which exits were safe for tourists - and which weren't. The signs were condemned by many people - and taken down - but I really thought they were useful while they lasted. Robyn

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Mzimbeck - Some people do travel large distances to find neighborhoods like this -searching for new trendy restaurants.  When I travel - no matter where - I always like to know what I'm getting into before I enter a strange neighborhood - so I can "govern myself accordingly".  In large cities around the world - there are almost always areas that are "down at the heels" - perhaps not overly attractive but safe.  Worst you will encounter is an aggressive panhandler (beggar) - or stuff on the street that belongs in bathrooms.  Best I can tell - Belleville is in this category.  Am I wrong?  Then there are areas that are not safe.  It's important to know the difference in advance.  In some suburbs of Paris - I would not want to walk around - even in broad daylight - wearing a Star of David.  Wouldn't be safe.

In Miami - where I used to live - there were signs on the interstate highway which showed which exits were safe for tourists - and which weren't.  The signs were condemned by many people - and taken down - but I really thought they were useful while they lasted.  Robyn

Hi Robyn,

I agree that there are many different types of traveler, and that some really are looking to experience the unglamorous underbelly of a place. But those people are mere drops in the tourist ocean.

There's a much larger number who think that they want an authentic experience (having watched a lot of Bourdain, perhaps), but their desire comes with conditions. They want an authentic local experience, but one that is close to the hotel that caters to vegetarians and where the English-speaking waiter is more than happy to bring ice. They also want it to be safe.

This latter condition is tricky to write about, and that was my main point. Lobrano can tell you objectively about the ice and the all-meat menu. But safety is subjective, and all he can do is provide clues like "scruffy" "gritty" and multiethnic." Ultimately the reader has to decide for themselves what they're ready for. Asking food writers to put signposts on neighborhoods, as you describe in Miami, is inviting some potentially racist and ultimately uninformative description.

I personally think that the quest for the Real and Local experience has gotten a little out of hand, and that most travelers are not prepared (linguistically) or predisposed (experientially) for this safari. But a certain strain of food writing - which I admittedly enjoy - makes us feel like losers if we're not venturing outside of our comfort zone.

Back to Lobrano, which was the point, I think he does a good job in Gourmet of describing some Paris neighborhoods that don't get a lot of media attention. There's enough detail there for most people to make up their minds about whether these places deserve a spot on the itinerary.

Edited by mzimbeck (log)

Meg Zimbeck, Paris by Mouth

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Ditto.

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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I have finally seen the hard copy of the issue and it's quite clear that the content of Lobrano's article is good and hangs together, the goofy title is, as I suspected, the editors' attempt to be provocative/witty/ironic/amusing/etc. Disclosure: I like and agree with Lobrano a lot.

Apparently, the current issue of Gourmet magazine has a special feature on Paris, describing what's buzzing in the 11th, 12th, 9th, 10th, 19th and 20th arrondissements.

One thing I couldn't figure out, though, is their use of the term "new left bank" to describe these neighborhoods. At first I assumed it was a way of comparing them to some old image of Montparnasse or something, but with the sidebar on "Paris's Left Bank Neighborhoods" I suddenly got the sense that they actually think, well, that those arrondissements are on the left bank.

Thoughts?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Hi Robyn,

I agree that there are many different types of traveler, and that some really are looking to experience the unglamorous underbelly of a place. But those people are mere drops in the tourist ocean.

There's a much larger number who think that they want an authentic experience (having watched a lot of Bourdain, perhaps), but their desire comes with conditions. They want an authentic local experience, but one that is close to the hotel that caters to vegetarians and where the English-speaking waiter is more than happy to bring ice. They also want it to be safe.

This latter condition is tricky to write about, and that was my main point. Lobrano can tell you objectively about the ice and the all-meat menu. But safety is subjective, and all he can do is provide clues like "scruffy" "gritty" and multiethnic." Ultimately the reader has to decide for themselves what they're ready for. Asking food writers to put signposts on neighborhoods, as you describe in Miami, is inviting some potentially racist and ultimately uninformative description.

I personally think that the quest for the Real and Local experience has gotten a little out of hand, and that most travelers are not prepared (linguistically) or predisposed (experientially) for this safari. But a certain strain of food writing - which I admittedly enjoy - makes us feel like losers if we're not venturing outside of our comfort zone.

Back to Lobrano, which was the point, I think he does a good job in Gourmet of describing some Paris neighborhoods that don't get a lot of media attention. There's enough detail there for most people to make up their minds about whether these places deserve a spot on the itinerary.

I agree with you about the "authentic experience". My favorite "authentic experience" was in Japan. Because Japan is very clean - very polite - very safe. Of course - hardly anyone spoke a word of English (my husband learned very primitive Japanese before our trip). And a lot of the food was unusual (I knew almost nothing about Japanese food before we left). But it was fun. Think you have to know deep down what kind of traveler you are before you plan a trip - or decide to do something on a trip. I am old enough (60+) to know exactly what I like - and don't like. As long as I feel safe - and don't have to worry about food-related illness issues (I am really bad in terms of complying with warnings not to drink the water or eat raw fruit) - I am a happy (somewhat adventurous) camper. What people don't realize with someone like Bourdain is he is traveling with a crew - and has access to "lifelines" from his TV station that most of us don't have (although even he can run into some trouble - like in Beirut).

OTOH - sometimes sh** happens - no matter how much planning you do. Like our getting caught in NYC on 9/11 on an anniversary trip. Or in Oxfordshire in the UK during the "hurricane" of 1987. Still - planning minimizes the chances of unpleasant experiences - whether one is talking about safety - ridiculous lines to a tourist attraction - lousy rooms/food/service at restaurants and hotels - whatever.

FWIW - the Miami signs were taken down because they were thought to be racist. Nevertheless - certain non-US airlines continued to have tourist guides in their planes where they showed which neighborhoods in Miami were ok - and which weren't (areas in red weren't ok). I always thought it was useful information for tourists - since some tourists in Miami have been killed simply because they wound up in the wrong parts of the city.

As for the Lobrano article - I enjoyed it - but have a question. Can you tell me which neighborhoods he described that you (or anyone else here who is familiar with Paris) feel comfortable walking around in after dark - just wandering around (and I will assume the rest would be ones where it is best to take a taxi to and from a restaurant). They don't have to be pretty (there is a lot of ugly street stuff in places like San Francisco these days). Just reasonably safe after dark on the main streets. And somewhat interesting. What's the point of pounding a lot of pavement if there's nothing to see? Residential neighborhoods - high end or low end - usually aren't interesting. Streets with a lot going on are (and streets where there are lots of people out are usually pretty safe). What about the neighborhood around Le Baratin (mentioned in another article)? BTW - I thought the quail recipe in the Baratin article looked pretty good. Perhaps I'll try making it once the weather here cools off a bit (I like to braise things - but braises aren't appealing in the heat of a Florida summer).

I think the funniest thing I have read in the magazine so far is Grant Achatz' statement that his favorite cocktail is a gin and tonic - ideally consumed in Europe. I don't know what part of Europe he is talking about - but when I ordered a gin and tonic (my favorite drink) at Troisgros years ago (after a particularly frazzling long rainy drive that day - I don't usually order this kind of thing in high end restaurants in Europe) - the servers had an executive huddle to figure out what I was talking about. To their credit - they didn't make fun of me - and made a very excellent specimen of the drink - complete with ice :).

Second funniest thing was the article about hotels. Some of the rooms mentioned in not so great sounding places cost over $500/night! You can get some pretty nice rooms in Paris for $500/night - especially in low season. I will note that the first hotel I ever stayed at in Paris in 1968 (student days) cost $10/night then - about 100 euros a night now for the same type of room. Robyn

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Can you tell me which neighborhoods he described that you (or anyone else here who is familiar with Paris) feel comfortable walking around in after dark - just wandering around (and I will assume the rest would be ones where it is best to take a taxi to and from a restaurant).
I cannot think of one that I'd be uncomfortable walking in.

John Talbott

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To be fair and clear, Lobrano can't take all the blame/credit for that article. The sub-article on the 9eme is by Oliver Schwaner-Albright.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I think the funniest thing I have read in the magazine so far is Grant Achatz' statement that his favorite cocktail is a gin and tonic - ideally consumed in Europe.

If I'm not mistaken, these advertisement "bios" are in Gourmet on a regular basis.

The funniest thing I read in this month's slate of adverts was David Chang's answer that chicken is his favorite ingredient to cook with. Actually, given that he's more well-known for his pork dishes, I find it more ironic than funny.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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