The Mysteries of Crows and UHT Milk

We have a family of crows in our neighborhood that is, of course, oblivious to the whole virus thingy. They may be curious as to why we’re all hiding inside and disappointed that there’s not as much discarded food laying about. It’s hard to say, but they do occasionally let loose with a lot of loud, coordinated cawing which, given the fairly quiet streets, makes quite a racket and echoes around the buildings. I still haven’t seen any of them, nor their nest, on the rooftops.

One week into the lockdown, the French Post Office has announced a temporary reduction in delivery days, from six days to four this week, and down to just three days starting next week. The authorities have also fine-tuned the restrictions on leaving the house a bit, turning the screws tighter. Some people, it seems, have been cheating.

It’s a strange thing, waiting for some invisible virus tidal wave to crash over us. Do we measure progress in the broadcast numbers of hospitalized and dead and suppose, when those numbers start to fall, that the end of the lockdown is near? I’m not sure that’s true, but we humans seem to be wired for progress indicators, and for hope.

It’s shocking to see the disarray and national leadership vacuum in the U.S. The notion, voiced by the President, that restrictions there, barely in place and not everywhere, should be lifted because the economy is being battered is the height of folly. So many more people are going to die if restrictions are lifted. Take note, voters, take note.

Turning to more mundane matters, one of the interesting things I’ve experienced since my seclusion here is Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) Milk. This is so-called “shelf stable” milk that lasts without refrigeration for months before opening. The French seem to like it; in fact, around 93% of all milk sold in France is UHT Milk. As with regular milk, the UHT version comes in a choice of fat levels (Whole, Skim, 2%, etc.) and bottle sizes. I can’t recall ever having it before and, while it does taste a little different from fresh milk, I’m quite happy using it in my morning cereal or oatmeal, and in my tea and coffee. Have you had it?

The French ardor for UHT Milk is charmingly at odds with the French reputation for using only the very best, freshest food ingredients, and with the vast selection of cheeses, yogurts, puddings, and other milk products typically found in grocery stores here.

Today’s Paris Lockdown Lunch consisted of a nice omelette containing Greek roasted potatoes and topped with gravy from the stuffed eggplant we had last week and parsley, accompanied by fresh bread, olive oil, Greek olives, and baba ganoush. A bottle of Haussmann Bordeaux filled our wine glasses and went down easy.

Au revoir!

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