5/16/2005

loving/hating france carla and i rented a car and drove out to nice this weekend. the trip didn't begin so auspiciously, as there was a train strike on friday, but we managed to get a taxi to alba to pick up our car. and then i steered us onto one of the tortuous local roads that run through the langhe (which is no good because 1) i am very, very susceptible to carsickness here, and 2) carla was trying to get a handle on driving stick after a good long while away from it, and 3) it took probably an extra half an hour probably to reach the A8 autostrada that runs along the mediterranean). but we finally got to nice and we were sitting at a stoplight at the northern edge of the city when all of a sudden, the door pops open, and a little (10 or 12 years old maybe?) punk kid darts in and grabs the bag at my feet (which turns out to be carla's, complete with credit cards, driver's license, passport, digital camera and everything) and jumps onto his friend's scooter and they motor away. carla u-turned and proceeded in their general direction in a panic, but we realized it was futile and pulled over and had a chat with some police that happened to be around. they were very nice (surprisingly) and led us to the main police station to file a report. which, as anyone who's had to go can attest, took 3 hours. we basically waited all that time for this guy to hunt-and-peck carla's filled-out form into their stone-age computer system. and they had no pens at this freakin' place! and they were slow and inefficient and really not so helpful. but it had to be done. those little bastards. things improved considerably the next day once we headed out of the city (after stocking up on all possible non-italian provisions) and drove to mougins and then to vence. i wasn't very good about taking photos this time around (as i think my previous pictures pretty much covered all the ground i could possibly want. and the area still looks the same), but then yesterday, we drove to villeneuve-loubet on the way back to nice and stopped off at the very cool musée d'escoffier or de l'art culinaire. i don't imagine that they get too many visitors, but it's definitely not to be missed if you're as food nerdy as carla or me. a rundown: produce at the market in nice at the escoffier museum: a recreated 19th-century provençal kitchen. the world's oldest (1923?) pastillage (spun sugar) train. perhaps the world's only. this is either really gross or really awesome. alexandre dumas père's knife! escoffier's sauteuse! some old dead guy's toque! 19th-century (older perhaps? i'm not much of a sign reader.) kitchen gadgets: an olive pitter and duck press at center and right. i forget what the one on the left is now -- my initial guess was a sausage grinder, but it's something simpler than that.

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