Working girls…

 Lunch is laid out to whet our appetites before entering the cantine.

A stylish cantine for a stylish crowd

This week I am working freelance from one of the large international advertising agencies that hire me to write their campaigns. This does not happen very often. At least, not the working in-house part. Most weeks I get a call, often from somebody I have never met, working from an agency I have never visited, asking me to write text for an ad campaign I will never see as it runs in countries I have never visited. Like Azerbaijan, or Croatia.

I used to have an issue with this. Should I really be working to convince poor, underprivileged farmers in Azerbaijan that they can not live without some “powder or paste or wax or bleach, To help with the housework”?  Do farmers in Azerbaijan really needed to be wearing whites that are whiter than white? Of course not. And I have to believe that they’re smart enough to know it, so I got over myself and got to work.

The company café

I love what I do and I managing my own schedule gives me time for odd projects, like ironing my underwear and Friday@Flore. But I’m usually alone, working in an empty void. Without feedback or input from others, I miss playing campaign badminton with a creative team; batting around words and concepts, our conceptual rackets swatting ideas as we come up with the winning play. And frankly, the chat around the water cooler; its astounding how boring I can be, don’t get me started on my conversations at lunch…

Well fed & ready to work

Which is why I was thrilled to be in-house this week and even more thrilled to discover the company cafeteria. Bright, light and colorful, with some serious design, the cafeteria offers employees a chance to chat and get to know each other, as well as choice of several main dishes that range from über-healthy grilled fish with steamed cabbage, to filling, carbo-loaded meals like gnocci and plenty of steak for the boys. A brief FYI; the totally cute, ultra skinny Parisiennes chose the gnocci, while I sat down with the “I don’t want to be the fat girl” fish option on my tray. There is a choice of 4 starters with dishes like salad of sliced duck breast or foie gras with gingerbread followed by a rather standard choice of desserts; chocolate mousse, blueberry clafoutis or jelled fruit in a verrine (we call it jello where I come from, although this one is made with real fruit, not a lot of sugar and is served with crème fraîche). Oh, and there is wine. Sold by the half bottle. Which sounds decadent, but is actually quite tame by industry standards. Think MadMen!
* from the musical Free To Be You and Me, I memorized this monologue when I was about 15. I still chant the line as I do my chores, “Housework is just no fun.”

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2 thoughts on “Working girls…

  1. I wish I have a place like that to go to for lunch (see where my priority is). Speaking of clafouti, just finished a cherry one using Daniel Bouloud’s recipe using ground noisettes and heavy cream. Tom loved it! Told him that’s a prevue of fruit desserts coming in September in addition to the chocolate ones he likes!
    Really enjoy reading you everyday! It makes my mundane life in your old hometown tolerable.
    Merci, merci mille fois! You are marvelous!!!

  2. I know what you mean about working in isolation, I once ran a drop in center by myself and after a month I was going mad because I didn;t have that first thing in the morning “hurray” or “moan” to my colleagues, about the trivial good and bad things going in in my life. like my daughter bringing a lovely drawing home from school or my husband had irritated me!

    Wow what a beautiful canteen. It is a great employer who encourages it’s workforce to take lunch and network.

    I really admire the way the French celebrate mealtimes, and make time for them. Not like most places here in the UK…. a hurried take away, only if you have time, or even worse sitting at a workstation with a sandwich and a can of something to drink.

    Love Denise from Bolton

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