Monday, April 9, 2012

Pass the Matzah

It's the mother of all Jewish holidays this week - Passover.  This year was the first time in Mr. Oil's life that he wasn't with his family in Akron, where I have also had the chance to spend the previous wonderful 7 Passovers.  So we were on our own in Paris, but determined to make it feel like a holiday nonetheless. 

We handily dealt with the "on our own" aspect by welcoming friends currently living in Copenhagen for the weekend.  Mr and Mrs Copenhagen, and their son who I'll call the Copenhagen Cutie, are friends from DC. Their son is 6 months older than Baby Oil, and they moved to Copenhagen about 6 months before we came to Paris.  Baby Oil and Copenhagen Cutie (a mouthful, but I'm a sucker for alliterations) had never met, but they were immediate buddies.  And by that I mean nobody got shoved, though there was some occasional tussling over various highly-coveted toys.

The Copenhagens absolutely earned their stay by not only being great house-guests, but even babysitting for us when Mr. Oil and I attended our long-scheduled wine tasting course on the wines of Italy.  Since we are going to Italy next month, and since we enjoyed the last wine tasting so much, we couldn't pass it up.  We felt much more confident going in to the evening - we were no longer fresh off the boat, we knew our way around a wine tasting and around Paris, and we were ready to spew ridiculous adjectives with the best of them.  I'll spare you the details of the wines - there were some good ones - and just sum up the evening by telling you that eventually we had a team huddle, and decided that it would be better in the long run for our reputations if we stopped making what we believed to be hilarious and witty comments.  And no, we don't remember what any of those hilarious and witty comments were.  Italian wine is good stuff - Italy, here we come!

On the second night of Passover, we held a seder for 8 adults and 4 kids, all under the age of 2. In some sort of Passover miracle, we actually completed the entire seder, and all of the adults actually got to sit at the table, at the same time, and eat dinner.  And while I am more than thrilled that I have at least 51 weeks until I have to start cooking for Passover again, it was also a triumphant evening for my mastering-the-art-of-tiny-Parisian-kitchen-cooking skills.  Perhaps this was part of the Passover miracle.  Nothing replaces being with family, but we felt proud of having done this ourselves, having been the parents, the hosts, the cooks, the leaders.  Mr. Oil leads a bang-up seder, let me tell you. 

To cap off our successful Passover weekend, we hired a babysitter to watch the two kids for an afternoon so us adults could go on a walking tour of the Marais.  And we knew it was well worth what we paid when we returned home and the sitter said, "'Well, it was challenging...but it was okay..."  And then she fled the apartment as quickly as possible.  The walking tour, through Paris Walks, was fantastic. It was our first official tour that we've done in 9 months of living here, and we absolutely plan to do more.  We take almost all of our visitors to the Marais, and we love to go there by ourselves, but we saw new things and learned new facts and anecdotes that we are excited to share with all of our future visitors. Plus it was just cool.

For instance, did you know that Paris has a city-run pawn shop? In colloquial terms, it is called "going to my aunt's", and apparently it is completely respectable to pawn your belongings if you need cash.  The pawn shop - Credit Municipal - has been around since 1637.  At one time, you could even pawn your mattress. Then not only could you reclaim it, it would have been steam-cleaned for you.  You can still see the steam-cleaning tower peeking between other buildings today, though it is currently condemned and nobody can enter.

So it's been a busy week.  And I would be remiss if I didn't inform all the world - or at least you who read my blog - that on Sunday morning after our Saturday night seder, Mr. Oil took Baby Oil out with the Copenhagens', and I slept until NOON.  I'll say it again - SLEPT UNTIL NOON.  Honey, I will make you matzah ball soup, gefilte fish, two kinds of chicken, brisket, kugel, sponge cake, chocolate cake, matzah bagels and more any time if I get to sleep until noon in return.