Anthony Bourdain is concerned that people have a bad time when they go to Paris. On last night's episode of The Layover, he attempted to show what to do (eat, drink, hang out) and what not to do (go to any tourist attraction that has a line) in order to have a good trip. He ended up drinking a bunch of wine, eating lots of bread, wandering around, and having an unfortunate (and somewhat lengthy?) run-in with a mime. Also he discovers cupcakes from a food truck. Now, on to the Quotable Bourdain — feel free to add your picks in the comments below.
1: On why people have a bad time in Paris: "The vacation gone wrong in Paris is almost always because people try to do too many things."
2: On how to have a good time in Paris: "Okay: go to Paris, check into a nice hotel, and my plan is I'm going to eat some fucking cheese and I'm gonna get drunk."
3: On France's culinary heritage: "They suffer from the burden of a tradition of fabulously oozing cheeses, rich sauces, historic wines. The kind of thing that tends to pigeonhole a culture, make you think it's all luxury and sodomy."
4: On what is changing in Paris' food scene: "You can still get a lot of the good old stuff, it's just a lot of the bullshit seems to have gone the way of the wooly mammoth."
5: On another place Paris might kind of sort of maybe like: "The food scene is Paris today in some ways feels way more like Brooklyn: independent and surprisingly casual."
6: On Parisian hotels: "Here's the thing about hotels in Paris: you can go the Henry Miller route and wallow romantically in squalor, or live it up big time. Luxury in Paris? They still got that."
7 On whether you should climb the stairs of Notre Dame: "No. No you shouldn't. You should walk past it, quickly get a photograph of yourself in front of Notre Dame. Total time investment: seven minutes. Have [an ice cream] cone, go have sex with a French person."
8: On how well he speaks French: "If nothing else my coffee ordering skills are fucking impeccable."
9: On someone who wrote "Paris blows" on his Facebook wall: "What does it say about a person that they could come to this city and spend any amount of time, no matter how miserable their experience, no matter how many things went wrong, and come away thinking that? It's like saying music sucks, or sex is completely overrated."
10: On what's different about Paris since "the old days": "In the old days we didn't know [the chefs]. We followed them blindly. Now we know them, they're all friends of New York chefs."
11: On omelets: "It's amazing how few people in this world know how to properly make an omelet."
12: On the attitude of New York diners: "If you haven't tweeted about it, it didn't happen."
13: On a sweet roll: "It's the delicate interplay between the pistachios and the sweet — eh, fuck it, it's really good."
14: Reading from a guide book: "'It is illegal to walk with your hand up a woman's skirt, but while you you are on the metro, you may legally touch breasts.' Your own, or someone else's?"
15: On America's influence on French food: "Perhaps the most striking effect of the current food revolution in Paris is the appearance of not only American chefs, but also that symbol of cutting edge hipster foodie culture, the food truck."
16: On the dessert offerings of one food truck: "That ultimate symbol of hipster desserts: the cupcake. Jesus, what's happening to the France I love? Cupcakes. The end is clearly near."
17: On being in the middle of things: "You're on Île Saint-Louis, little spit of land in the middle of the Seine. Got your Left Bank over there, your Right Bank over there, you have some ice cream, you can have a couple drinks and get all Hemingway and shit. It's a nice place to be."
18: On running into a mime: "I thought at the time this just happened, but no, in an act of treachery unparalleled in human history, my Quisling-like producer set up this cruel ambush by this stripy-shirted nightmare, bringing me back to my darkest and most fearsomely repressed childhood trauma. An incident at a summer camp crafts fair where I was cruelly misused by a predatory mime, beaten and covered in grease paint and left for dead."
19: On post-mime trauma: "Nothing will wash away the stain of this moment. Oh look, shellfish tower!"
20: On getting revenge for the miming: "After the mime incident, I feel my producer is unlikely to protest when I get a really, really fucking expensive bottle of wine and the royale, deluxe version of the shellfish tower."
21: On the lasting effects of the mime incident: "I have post-mime stress disorder. Every time from now on I see a striped shirt I'm going to clench."
22: On the shellfish tower: "If there are two things you do in Paris — two, two — this is one of them."
23: On the musical tastes of mimes: "What music do mimes listen to? Spin Doctors? Yeah, they listen to Spin Doctors, Hootie and the Blowfish. If you go to any mime's apartment there's a Natalie Merchant record. Guarantee."
24: To a clam while trying to get it off the shell: "Aw, jeez, second time today something squirted on my chest. First was the mime, now a clam."
25: On his plans for the afternoon: "Gonna finish that bottle of wine, go back to the park, and beat Mr. Mime to death."
26: On what he's bringing back as a souvenir: "A duck press: the most medieval of all kitchen tools."
27: On Shakespeare & Co.: "If, like Woody Allen, you need to reassert your credentials as a deep thinker, and you love a good Djuna Barnes joke, if you're the sort of person who'd buy Owen Wilson as a great writer in a movie, then this is a must-stop. But for me, on this trip, my toys are torture related."
28: On duck presses: "There are maybe two restaurants in New York that have one of these, and my house. Awesome."
29: On the undeniable fact that the duck press is very noisy: "The neighbors will be like, 'Aw, he's making duck again.'"
30: On the future of French dining: "There will be places that look like this [wine bar] in a hundred years. But the big dining rooms, I wonder, who will be the customers? In twenty years? Russians and Chinese."
31: In sum: "Most of us are lucky to see Paris once in a lifetime. Please, make the most of it by doing as little as possible. Walk a little. Get lost a bit. Eat. Catch a breakfast buzz. Have a nap. Try and have sex if you can, just not with a mime. Eat again. Lounge around drinking coffee. Maybe read a book. Drink some wine. Eat. Repeat. See? It's easy."
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