However much I love the Paris métro — it might surprise you to learn that actually like its smell, a special mix of metal, dust, and rubber — walking remains my favorite means of transportation around the city. It gives me the opportunity to stretch my legs, traverse favorite or unfamiliar neighborhoods, indulge in a little people-watching, and get slightly lost from time to time, which often leads to interesting discoveries.
I usually like to be alone with my thoughts, but when I wish to be entertained as I walk, I take full advantage of the technological wonders of our times and listen to podcasts on my mp3 player. And since I figured I probably wasn’t the only one to do so, I thought I would share a few favorites. (If you would like to reciprocate and share yours, the comments section is wide open!)
This weekly show airs on KCRW, an NPR radio station in the Los Angeles area. It is hosted by the gracious Evan Kleiman, restaurant owner and founder of the LA Slow Food convivium, who interviews authors, food experts, and critics. It is a lively and varied show that includes local tidbits (restaurant reviews and such) but has a broad enough scope otherwise to be of interest to listeners outside Southern California.
~ Eat Feed
This one is a “pure” podcast in the sense that it was created directly for the web, and isn’t aired on any other medium. Each show is organized around one of four formats (the seasonal, the new and noteworthy, the history of food, and the vocabulary of gastronomy) and the overall approach manages to be both scholarly and engaging — a difficult balance to strike. (Note: Amy, Aun, and I were guests on their most recent show, October Rumblings, and this is how the idea for this post came about.)
~ Table à découvert (in French)
Join Caroline Mignot, a French food writer and restaurant reviewer who’s just as charming in real life as her voice would have you believe, as she visits Parisian restaurants with a hidden microphone. Her audio vignettes are short and crisp, her words clear and evocative, and if I was trying to improve my French comprehension skills, I would be happy to turn to her recordings.
I am an enthusiastic listener of BFM, a French radio station that offers news and discussions on politics and economy. The interviews and debates are thought-provoking, the hosts smart and forward-thinking, and when I feel deeply discouraged about the state of this otherwise beautiful country, BFM is what helps me put the ladder and the rope back in the shed. But I digress; what I really wanted to mention was two of the weekend shows. The first one, Goûts de luxe, talks about all things upscale and luxurious: each show revolves around a timely theme, sometimes food-related and sometimes not, but whether the hosts talk about fine dining, spas, haute couture, or palaces, the tone is spirited and entertaining, with a good dose of irony. As for In Vino BFM, it focuses on wine and vintners, with segments on the history, regionality, and characteristics of different wines. Never snobbish, always accessible, it is a very good show to learn from.
The final podcast in this selection isn’t about food, but I enjoy it and I’m sure many of you will, too. Grace is the author of the awe-inspiring blog design*sponge, in which she features beautiful things that one doesn’t really need, but that one can still gape at and lust over for hours on end (don’t say I didn’t warn you). Every few weeks she interviews her favorite designers and artists, and you can hear about their work, their vision, and their aspirations on her podcast.