Breaking Bad

Like millions of Americans I am now suffering from post-withdrawal syndrome.
A sense of loss, discomfort, that occurs after withdrawal from alcohol, opiates or watching Breaking Bad.

After weeks of following the saga of Walter White, I feel an acute sense of loss after the series concluded on September 29, 2013.
My main frustration though stems from the fact that I am not privy to what ultimately happened to all the characters, and who will live and who will die.

Netflix has not yet released the last six episodes of the show and I don’t know when they will. Therefore my extreme annoyance.

Breaking bad (in the American Southwest parlance) means to turn against the system, defy authority and engage in criminal activities.
In the Netflix television series it tells the story of fallen angel Walter White, mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine dealer.

The fascination (should I say addiction?) with this show started innocently enough.
Utterly disgusted by the amount of commercials shown on television stations, I looked for an alternative to this endless misery and found refuge in Netflix.
Netflix is commercial free and this alone is worth the modest monthly fee that you pay to watch their offerings.

A few weeks after my wife started watching it, and despite some misgivings, I began to monitor Breaking Bad and soon became addicted to it.

Walter WhiteIn a few words, Breaking Bad tells the story of Walter White aka Heisenberg, a chemistry teacher living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Walter is financially squeezed and at the beginning of the show he is shown working after-hours at a carwash to make ends meet.

After being diagnosed with lung cancer and told that he has at most two years to live, Walt (using his chemistry knowledge) “breaks bad” and resolves to manufacture amphetamine (“blue meth”) to ensure his family’s financial security after he dies.

The story basically tells the story of an ordinary man who inexorably turned to cold-blooded killer. It is gradual, for Walter originally is a decent, principled man. But little by little he starts getting delusions of grandeur, becomes greedy and despite the danger and his wife’s pleas he refuses to quit the business.

My purpose here is not to tell you the entire story, but to let you know why America became so enamored with Breaking Bad.
Little by little we become involved with all the characters and long to know the ultimate fate of Walter, Skyler, Jesse (Bitch) Pinkman, Hank and Saul (Call Saul).

I won’t tell you since I don’t know myself, but stay tuned, I might be able to shed some light on this story later on.

As Jesse Pinkman would say: yo, later bitch!

Alain La Foudre


Parlez-vous pétanque?

IMG_8540OK, so now you can play pétanque fairly decently… you can point and you can almost shoot, but does that make you a genuine pétanque player?
Could you go to France and feel comfortable playing with the natives?
I don’t think so!
Regardless of your newly acquired skills, you cannot pretend to be a real pétanque player without speaking the lingo.
It would be like eating sushi with a fork!

To help you fully integrate the pétanque fraternity, I have gathered a few words and expressions that you could (carefully) use to ingratiate yourself with the Snail Eaters.

Biberon: (un) a baby bottle. A boule hugging the cochonnet.

Bien joué! Well played!

Boule Devant: Boule in front. The French say “Boule devant, boule d’argent” (a boule in front is worth its weight of silver).

Bras d’or (un): Golden arm. A player with a golden arm is an individual who plays extremely well.

Casquette (une) A cap. A shot when a boule bounces off the top of the target boule without moving it.

Casser le bras (break the arm): To distract a player when he is shooting. Tu me casses le bras! (You are breaking my arm).

Baiser Fanny: To kiss Fanny.
According to tradition, when players lose 13-0, they must kiss the buttocks of a woman called Fanny (usually a cardboard cut-out).
Caution: use the word “baiser” very carefully. It could mean either kiss or fuck.

Les pieds dans le rond! Feet in the circle!

Plomber: consists of throwing a boule relatively high in the air (like a mortar shot) to land it and make it stop it near the cochonnet.

Poussette (une): a little push. To slightly push one of your team’s boule toward the cochonnet.

Têtard (un). “Téter » means “to suck”. Therefore a “têtard” is a boule that literally sucks (hugs) the cochonnet.

Tirer au fer: shoot the iron. To hit an opponent’s boule without touching the ground.

Merde: Shit. Indispensable French word when playing pétanque (or doing practically anything else).

Putain: Whore. Exclamation of wonder, or disappointment. To be used carefully.

Hope that this will help.
See you on the field.

Alain La Foudre



Baker Street Bistro

Once in a while I feel the need for a cultural bath and that’s why last Thursday morning I drove to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco to immerse myself in an exhibition called Impressionists on the Water.
We are talking of course about that old gang: Monet, Caillebotte, Renoir, Pissarro, etc.

Most of the people are familiar with these artists but far fewer know about Gustave Caillebotte, and he just happens to be one of my favorite Impressionists.
His lesser fame might due to the fact that besides painting, Caillebote had another consuming passion: sailing.
He ceased painting in his mid-thirties and devoted himself almost exclusively to gardening, building and racing yachts.
He unfortunately died at 45 of a pulmonary congestion and that might explain his relative obscurity.
Nevertheless, I love his paintings and I particularly like “Paris Street, Rainy Day” that renders especially well the gloomy atmosphere of the French capital on a wet winter day.

Rainy Day

After our cultural interlude we felt the need for a more down to earth kind of pleasure and we drove to the Baker Street Bistro for a little nourishment.
I had not been there since it was sold a few years ago and I didn’t know what to expect.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, we managed to secure a table outside in front of the establishment, and on this sunny autumn day it felt particularly pleasant.
The food proved to be above expectations.

thumbs-upSince I am fond of « cochonnaille » I started with a « Assiette Charcutière » (pâté de campagne, dry saucisson, smoked duck breast, garlic sausage, cornichons & onions) and it proved an excellent choice. I particularly appreciated the “pâté de champagne”.

Next, I went for the Moules Provençale (mussels, white wine, shallots, parsley, tomato and pesto).
The mussels were plump and juicy but what made this classic dish particularly tasty was the addition of some pesto.
Next time you prepare some “moules” at home, try to add a little pesto to the broth; you will be pleasantly surprised.

Tamara picked the Navarin d’Agneau Printanier (lamb stew with zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, carrots) and by the way it disappeared from her plate I could tell that it was to her liking.

Our French-speaking waitress whose name was Chantal did an excellent job despite the fact that she was shorthanded.
Service could have been a little speedier, but this is the only hiccup to an otherwise perfect lunch.
I am pretty sure that if you go there for dinner you won’t have this problem.

If you are in San Francisco and you start feeling some hunger pangs, head for the Baker Street Bistro (2953 Baker Street) and give it a try.
You will like it.

Alain La Foudre