Work is good - long hours but good. But now I'm homeless. Don't worry - I'm staying with friends - a week here, a week there - and it should be temporary - hopefully only until next weekend. The problem of course was the fucking visa - I didn't know if was staying for a week, month, or year. As soon as I got it, I started applying to apartments - apartments that I'd already found and was praying would still be available. The Paris apartment market is actually not that bad - nothing compared to Manhattan or San Francisco or even Santa Monica - but like most things here, it works at a glacial pace. First I have to give them my dossier - which by French standards is technically incomplete since I don't have three months of French salary receipts or last year's French tax returns. So for me there's an even bigger mountain of documents - and even more than the usual rounds of meetings - they love face time here. I swear it was easier buying a house in LA. So now I'm waiting to find out about the apartment I really want - which should be by tomorrow night. Then I'll have to find time during my midday break to go and sign the lease - of course they can't do it on weekends. And then hopefully I can move in by next weekend. God knows when I'll get electricity or an Internet connection.
Some of the itinerant chefs I've met love to live two years out of nothing more than a single knapsack. A knife roll, chef's shoes, a pair of houndstooth-checked chef's pants, a white chef's jacket - plus the clothes on their back - and they're good to go. Not me - I travel heavy - I typically travel with the maximum international baggage allowance - but damn I can pack those bags fast - eyes closed.
This whole homeless thing is so upsetting because I have to admit that I'm kind of like that J. Peterman character on Seinfeld. As much as I can take off for months or years at a time - at a moment's notice, knives at the ready - when I'm home, I love to be like a total suburban homebody. I love to watch tv and eat takeout. Not that I ever have much time to really live out this alternate fantasy life - but that's what I imagine I'd like to do.
I work with black truffles and foie gras all day. What I really want to try is the Raclette pizza from Pizza Hut right now - it's only available in France until the beginning of March. I think the last seasonal pizza was a duck breast pizza. Raclette is the French word for scraper - in the kitchen we also call the counter and floor squeegees raclettes. It's also the name of a certain kind of winter meal - and the name of the Swiss-type cheese around which it's based. Traditionally you take a huge half wheel of this cheese, warm the cut, exposed surface in front of a fire - in your cabin in the snowy mountains - and then scrape up the cheese as it oozes off with boiled potatoes or hunks of baguette. It's served with mustard, cornichons - those little midget pickles - and coarse sausages. The Pizza Hut pizza is basically a pizza with potatoes, cheese, and country sausage.
In the meantime, the only key I have on my keychain is to my locker at the Crillon. The Crillon is not just my home away from home - it really is my only home in Paris right now.