The Best Food Quote of All Time and More

This is from Jay Rayner, the food critique of the Observer:
I am also a consumer of bad reviews. If they are fun to write they are also fun to read – like this one by a young rising politician called Winston Churchill. Asked about his dinner the night before, he replied: "It would have been splendid… if the wine had been as cold as the soup, the beef as rare as the service, the brandy as old as the fish, and the maid as willing as the duchess."
His reaction is the same as mine:
God, but I wish I'd written that.
But I also enjoyed this reaction to a bad review:
The 19th-century German composer Max Reger allegedly once replied to a bad review with a note that read: "I am seated in the smallest room in the house. Your review is before me. Shortly it will be behind me."


Essential Rules of Shopping in Paris: Say Bonjour

If you have never been to Paris, you probably imagine shopping as a highly glamorous activity.

You might have heard of Avenue Montaigne or Avenue des Champs Elysées or Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré and you have visions of chic boutiques with a doorman at the door. You imagine dealing with very attentive sales people very happy to attend to your whims. Like the sales guy you saw in Pretty Woman:
 Edward: You know what we're gonna need here? We're going to need a few more people helping us out. I'll tell you why. We are going to be spending an obscene amount of money in here. So we're going to need a lot more help sucking up to us, 'cause that's what we really like.
Hollister: Ohhhh!
Edward: You understand that.
Hollister: Sir, if I may say so, you're in the right store, and the right city, for that matter!
At the risk of crushing your dream, I can tell you Paris ain't the right city for that. There might be a few stores  that might conform to your mental image but for the vast majority of shopping places in Paris the reality is much darker.

When I first moved here I assumed that you could still walk up to a sales person and ask a question like "excuse me, could you tell me where the polo shorts are?" I have been visiting Paris regularly since 1972 and I can tell you this has always been a perfectly reasonable way to approach anyone here.

Somehow they changed the rules in the new millennium. The first time I went up to a store clerk and posed my excuse me question, I got a blank stare followed by an awkward silence of three to four seconds and the guy pumped up his chest, pull his head back in an operatic manner and just as I began to expect him to tackle Paul Potts' version of Nessun Dorma, he hollered a fairly sonorous "Bonjour!" to me. It was so over the top that I realized that the whole thing was designed to let me know how rude I was to talk to him without first greeting him.

I went to see a Parisian couple that I knew to ask when the rules had changed and they were not even aware that this was the new rule. Since then it happened to every new visitor I know and it even made it to David Lebovitz's book The Sweet Life in Paris as one of the big no-no's.  I am here to tell you it is a fairly recent phenomenon and it serves two purposes. One, after being told that you are a crass human being who accosted your fellow person without even a hello you no longer dare asking more question and bother them in their daily activity of imagining their next vacation. Also, over time, you start assuming that they are not there to help you but simply to greet you in and out of the store.

Accordingly, upon entering someone will lift their head and yell Bonjour and on your way out the same person will scream Au revoir to your back. But if you ask them a question while inside, they may or may not help you depending on their mood, the time of the day and how close it is to their vacation time.

But the Bonjour is sacrosanct.

In fact, it is so bad now that a month ago I was at a fabric store in Monmartre and a clerk yelled after a client accusing her of ignoring her cries of Au revoir. The client retorted that she replied twice but the clerk had already lost interest. I approached the same sales person to ask for something. Of course I began with my booming Bonjour, I may be part of the rif raf she clearly despised but I am not a fool. She looked at me with a sneer and said that this was not her section and I should find someone else.

And this is a store where they work on commission. You might think that it is because my purchase would be too small for her to pull her out of her scandalized shock of a client daring not to reciprocate her goodbyes. But that is not the case.

In my second month in Paris, I went to an electronic store called Darty to buy a television. Yes, Darty. Their sales people work on commission as well. It was a big ticket item, something that cost almost two thousand euros and I assumed the sales person would be happy to sell me anything for that kind of money. I had narrowed my choices down to two sets and I began asking my questions. The guy was clearly annoyed with me. After responding to a couple of questions, he looked at his watch and said that it was lunch time and I should come back another time to finalize the deal. And he turned around and scooted away.

I am not sure what their commission is but I presume any percentage of two grand would buy many lunches.

Not in Paris.

I am thinking that if a sales person from Best Buy of Future Shop ever reads this their heads might explode.

I say Bonjour to them.


British Beef in France

A contrarian (and well-connected) French chef seemed to have achieved the impossible. He re-introduced British beef to France.

The man in question is Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec, known as the butcher to the stars and owner of Le Beef Club.

France is a country of brands. As befitting a people who discovered that they can charge a lot more for a humble polo shirt if they stuck an alligator on it, all food items have brands. You cannot buy strawberries here. You can get gariguettes, charlottes, ciflorettes, rondes. If a box of strawberries is labeled as "fraise," the French term for strawberry, it is almost certainly a box that originated from Spain.

The beef is the same. It is sold under its regional brand names, like Aubrac, Salers, Charolais, Limousins, Flamand, Normand, Parthenais. French believe that each type of beef has different characteristics and different uses. I suspect that is because they all have solid brand management behind them. Other countries have similar differentiation (like the British Angus, Shorthorn, Longhorn or Galloway) but most of the time, people don't pay any attention to them. In France they are sold separately under their own name.

Within that system, British beef had a terrible brand association with the Mad Cow disease. France refused to import British beef between 1996 and 2002 (despite a EU decision and a European Court ruling) and even now the terrible association is very much alive in people's minds.

But le Bourdonnec is set to change all that. He sings the praises of the British beef. The meat is more tender because the animals are smaller and fast maturing, he says.

So far, his restaurant drew a lot of media attention and high praises from customers. It also drew the ire of French cattle breeders union. I plan on visiting the place to report back here.

How to Cook Beef like Heston?

Speaking of beef, during my vegetarian years, I taught myself how to cook beef properly. Because I could not taste the end result, I had to rely on proven techniques to cook the meat to the satisfaction of my guests (and my dogs, but they were less discerning).

1) If you are barbecuing or pan searing, keep turning the meat every 10-15 seconds, instead of leaving it on each side for minutes.
2) The bounciness of the meat is a reliable indicator of its degree of doneness (I gather there is no such word but you know what I mean). The bouncier the meat the less done it is. Because of that, overcooking the meat will harden it and make it chewy.
3) You have to let the meat rest for 3-5 minutes after you removed it from the heat source. I usually cover it with foil to prevent heat loss.

Years later I realized that I was doing it right after I watched a British chef explain the chemistry behind these simple tips.

The chef in question was Heston Blumenthal, who is the chef/owner of Fat Duck, the perennial number two to Feran Adrià's El Bulli for the best restaurant in the world category for most of the previous decade (it was number one in 2005).

He is a culinary hero of mine because of his willingness to share his knowledge of food with the general public. He is the magician who explains his tricks. This video is from a series called "How to Cook like Heston" and here he explains how to handle beef in various dishes.

The entire series is highly recommended.

He covers the following basic ingredients: eggs, chocolate, chicken, cheese and potatoes. And here is a link to the recipes in the series.


You Know You are a Parisian If...

I hope Jeff Foxworthy and his redneck buddies will forgive me for borrowing their formula.

The thought occurred to me while I was reading David Lebovitz's hilarious book "The Sweet Life in Paris" about the first time he realized that he became a Parisian. It was when he got out of his comfy t-shirt and sweatpants and put on some decent clothes to go downstairs to drop his garbage bag into the apartment bin.

Personally, I resist Parisian sartorial pressures. I still wear comfortable Rockport shoes instead of pointed Richelieus favored by men here. And I refuse to have a scarf around my neck even in winter, which is a must for any self-respecting Parisian 365 days a year. They see me scarfless in December and roll their eyes and I see them with those silk pythons around their neck in August and I roll my eyes.

I have to confess, at times, I felt a bit proud for maintaining my contrarian wardrobe. Then one day, without giving it any thought I bought something and immediately realized that I had become a Parisian.

Quel horreur, indeed.

You see, I actually went to a store to buy myself a... shopping caddy.

Sure, they are handy, you can put six large water bottles, all your groceries and schlep it back home without breaking you back. They are environmentally friendly as they reduce plastic bag consumption.

And they are great to take to street markets, of which there is at least one in every neighborhood in Paris. Where I live, there are three of them every week. Fresh produce and decent prices.

Still, look at this thing, How can you pretend to be a dignified person when you have this plastic puppy follow you home?

But you know you are a Parisian if you bought this schlep-mobile without a second thought.

Oh well.


My Take on Robuchon's Pommes Purée

I know what you are thinking: Who are you to have a take on one of the signature dishes of the guy chosen as the Chef of the Century by Gault Millau with 27 Michelin stars to his name?

True that.

A long time ago I read in a magazine that the reason famous cooks are mostly men is because recipes are written in imperative mood, dice this, sautée that, and men rebel against such orders. I am not sure if it is true but I prefer this to traditional explanations which presume implicit male superiority. And I attribute the rise of female cooks in many restaurants to the emancipatory (and culinary) rebellion brought about by feminism.

In my personal case, the bellicose attitude towards all recipes is embarrassingly true. I always make changes to any recipe I come across and I keep changing it until I am happy with the result. With big name cooks like Robuchon, I follow their recipe the first time around. After that I start improvising.

Robuchon's whipped or mashed potatoes (purée in French) are very famous. This was his first signature dish   and possibly still his most famous. Google them and you will see hundreds of pages about the dish. In a recent documentary, Robuchon said that people are so taken with the creamy taste and smooth texture of the dish, it is quite common for them to order a second portion at the end of their meal in lieu of dessert.

The original recipe calls for Ratte potatoes, which is a small nutty variety found in France and Denmark. Some people claim that Ratte may not be best suited potato for this puree and Robuchon's tip might be a red herring. I tend to think that you can use any variety suitable for mashed potatoes but Ratte provides a nice and nutty after taste.

What Robuchon tells you to do is to boil the potatoes until tender (20-25 minutes), peel them and push them through a potato ricer. Add 250 gr of butter in chucks of 50 and have the potatoes absorb it. You then add 250ml of regular milk and stir until all is folded into the potato puree. And push the mixture through a chinois to end up with a super smooth puree. Salt and pepper to taste. Not Quite Nigella has the best version of the classical recipe.

Here is my take.

I use Ratte, because they are available in Paris.

There are two key tricks to this dish: one is to remove as much of the moisture as possible from the potatoes after you boil them. That's because you want them to absorb as much milk and butter as they can.

The second trick is to remove all lumpiness to achieve a very smooth texture. A lot of the impression of creaminess comes from the texture.

Consequently, instead of boiling them for 25 minutes, I steam them using a standard metal vegetable steamer.

Here is my overused steamer.

I put water and coarse sea salt at the bottom of the pot, put the steamer in, pile up all my Ratte in without peeling. Cover and let them steam for 20-25 minutes. Use a thin fork to see of their center is tender.

Peeling them is easy. Like tomatoes left in boiling water for 30 seconds, you can pull one end of the skin and remove it very easily. No need for a potato peeler.

Then, you need to pass them through a potato ricer. I use a rotary cheese grater, like the one pictured. It is a messy and cumbersome method but the resulting potato strings are very thin. And that's my principal goal.
Once I have all the potatoes passed through my grater, I put them in a non stick pot and start stirring for about five minutes. The original recipe, with its boiled potatoes, requires a lot longer than that to evaporate all the moisture (when I first tried it, it took about 20 minute of above-stove workout).

Robuchon suggests 250gr of butter. Here is my second rebellion, I use 75gr of butter (if your guests are really into butter you can add more to taste) and two table spoon of olive oil. In fact, I made it once with just olive oil and I personally liked it better. But butter does provide some creaminess. Hence the compromise.

The way you add the butter is one small spoon at a time and you keep stirring the potato mixture until that butter is melted and absorbed.

The amount of milk required for Robuchon's version if 250ml (roughly one cup). If you reduce the amount of butter and olive oil you put in, you need to increase the amount of milk you use. I once made a diet-friendly version of it with no butter and just two table spoons of olive oil and I had to use 500ml of milk to achieve the same results. And I used, gasp, 2 percent milk. I hope Robuchon never finds out.

Bring your milk up to boiling point before adding it to the puree.

The technique is similar to bechamel sauce, pour it either in small quantities, and get that absorbed before adding more, or ask someone to drizzle the milk while you stir continuously.

The resulting mixture should be quite soft. If not, you need to add either more butter (oil) or milk.

The final step is to pass it through a chinois for a smooth finish. I don't have a chinois so I use a regular fine mesh strainer like this.

I use a wooden spatula and take my time to slowly pass the whole thing through the strainer.

Afterwards I check the seasoning and add whatever is missing to taste.

My final touch is to add one tea spoon of truffle oil. Use only the best quality oil you can find, regular cheap super market stuff does not work. And make sure not to put too much.

What the truffle oil does is to bring up the nutty flavor of Ratte potatoes without overpowering their natural aroma and taste. And it adds another layer to the dish.

As you can imagine my version is less cream oriented and leans towards a more Mediterranean taste. The potatoes (and not the creamy flavor) are the main actors.

But you cook according to your taste. Most people would prefer the full butter version. I like mine better. The fact that it is a little healthier is just a bonus.

One of these days, I will make Robuchon's pommes puree using Vitelotte potatoes. With their violet-blue color, they could add a whole new dimension to this dish.


Relais de l'Entrecote

If you ever visited Paris for more than a day or two, chances are you heard about this unassuming restaurant. Make that plural, as there are several.

The original restaurant was established in by Paul Gineste de Saurs 1959 in Porte Maillot. He bought an existing Italian restaurant called Le Relais de Venise and didn't change the name for a while. He just added "et son entrecote" to the name of the restaurant.

His goal was to find a secure outlet for the wines produced by the family Chateau.

So he borrowed an idea from a Geneva restaurant called Cafe de Paris which simply served steaks and fries. The dish is considered the most popular comfort food in France.

The plate to the left is an actual Le Relais de l'Entrecote steak and fries.

The idea worked so well that there are now several Entrecote restaurants all over the world. His three children each head a group of restaurants under the names
(a) le Relais de Venise - Entrecote (Paris, Barcelona, London (2), New York)
(b) L'Entrecote (Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Montpellier, Lyon) and
(c) Le Relais de l'Entrecote (Paris (3), Geneva, Beirut (3), Kuwait, Doha, Dubai)

There are three secrets to their success. Consistent quality, fast service and excellent desserts.

I ate in most of their Paris locations, in Geneva and in New York, the meat is consistently tender and the sauce is well made. And the house wine is very pleasant and good value.

I am not sure about their other locations but in Paris, on a regular night between 7-11 p.m. they manage three seatings. And on the weekend, they can get a fourth one. The fact that they are one of the very few Parisian restaurants to employ and all female serving staff might be a factor in this rapid turnover.

Finally, their desserts are excellent and their profiteroles might be one of the best in Paris.

While the cut called Entrecote is properly translated as rib eye, in this case, it refers to sirloin (contre-filet in French). What is special about the food is the sauce, which is a closely guarded trade secret. The original formula was developed by the founder of Cafe de Paris in Geneva, Freddy Dumont. Gineste de Saurs licensed it from him and all these various Entrecote restaurants are still serving it under that license.

Apparently Le Monde suggested that the main ingredients of the Cafe de Paris sauce (the French name is Beurre de Cafe de Paris) were blanched chicken livers, heavy cream and thyme flowers.

But here is a recipe for Cafe de Paris butter that I find more convincing than the blanched chicken liver and cream version. I can tell you that it is too much work to prepare it at home. Just go to one of their many locations and eat it there. Don't forget the profiteroles afterwards.

Beurre Café de Paris

1 kg butter
60g tomato ketchup
25g Dijon mustard
25g capers (in brine)
125g brown eschalots
50g fresh curly parsley
50g fresh chives
5g dried marjoram
5g dried dill
5g fresh thyme, leaves only
10 leaves fresh French tarragon
Pinch ground rosemary
1 garlic clove, squashed then chopped very finely
8 anchovy fillets (rinsed)
1 tbs good brandy
1 tbs Madeira
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp curry powder (Keens)
Pinch cayenne
8 white peppercorns
juice 1 lemon
zest of ½ lemon
zest ¼ orange
12gm salt

Mix all ingredients with the exception of butter in a glass bowl and leave
to marinate for 24 hours in a warm part of the kitchen (a slight
fermentation occurs). Purée the mixture in a blender and push through a
chinois. Foam the butter and mix with the purée. Cover and store in the
fridge. It is customary to form the butter into a log, freeze it and cut off slices as you need them.
Keeps for several weeks.

Upon service a round of frozen butter is placed on the cooked sirloin and put under a VERY hot salamander for just long enough to begin to brown the top of the butter (while the butter underneath stays cold).

Metro Ads

One of my favorite things to do in Paris is to read Metro ads.

By Metro I am referring to the excellent subway system, of course. It is short for Metropolitaine, which means "of the metropolis."

Some ads are lame and predictable but there are a few that are humorous and quite risqué (it is sign of how repressed we are that we use a French word to express that sentiment).

Last holiday season, there was a poster from a Web site that bills itself as a dating service for married people. The service is called Gleeden.com and their byline is "The first extramarital dating site made by women."

While the service was established by an American company, I would be very surprised if they were able to advertise freely in North America. Certainly, not in any public transport systems. Not without a lot of pearl necklace clutching and fainting.

Here, last Christmas they had a poster that said: "Maybe your resolution this year should be to cheat your lover with your husband"

And yesterday, they had this splashed all over the Metro:

The translation is  "Our site will be exceptionally closed on 6 May because one shouldn't cheat" but there is a word play. Tromper is to cheat but se tromper is to make a mistake.

Sex and politics, the two taboos of the Anglo Saxon world proudly on display in Paris.


Never Eat Risotto in a Parisian Brasserie

In eight years in Paris, I have never eaten a decent risotto in a Parisian restaurant, brasserie or bistro.

For some unknown reason, they think risotto is pilaf with excess broth. It is a crying shame since there are hundreds Italian restaurants where you can eat a decent risotto. It should be easy to figure out how to cook it properly.

There are four simple points you need to keep in mind to prepare good risotto.

First use only arborio rice. This is a short grain, high starch Italian rice. Nothing else will work. And this is where the bistro cooks fail: they invariably use regular short grain pilaf rice.

Second, start cooking the rice by turning it in butter or olive oil (I use only olive oil) for 4-5 minutes in medium to high heat. This is the same technique you would use for pilaf. The grains will become whiter. Add your liquid after those four, five minutes.

Third, do not use plain water to cook the rice. You can use chicken or vegetable broth. Or white wine. I personally like the woodsy taste of dried mushrooms. Usually, I opt for dried porcini mushrooms but any other variety will do fine.

I put them in hot water for ten minutes. Then I remove the mushrooms and use that liquid in my risotto.

The trick is to add that mushroom broth slowly to the risotto, roughly half a cup at a time.

And to continuously stir the risotto.

The forth thing to keep in mind is to prepare the risotto just before you serve it. That is because you need to stir it constantly to keep it creamy and when you stop the high starch arborio will absorb all the liquid and will become sticky and hard. Tip: if you have to prepare it ahead of time, put aside some of that broth liquid and add it to your risotto while heating it up.

You can flavor the risotto any way you like. Some recipes suggest saffron (Milanese style), others will recommend sea food (like scallops). There are literally hundreds different ways to finish it. I like mine simple, so I usually add a few drops of truffle oil before serving.

As I said, you will find hundreds of recipes for risotto. My suggestion is to keep it simple, to use good ingredients and treat risotto as a meal onto itself (as opposed to a side dish).

And never eat risotto in a bistro.

Another Odd Thing About Living in Paris #27

France is marvelously, gloriously and proudly backward when it comes to modern technology.

I am sure no one in North America would believe this but you cannot do any transactions in ATMs other than withdraw money. Forget about depositing or transferring money, you cannot even check your balance.

In fact, your balance is updated every couple of days. Say that you withdrew 100 euros and the little receipt showed that you had 1000 euros left in your account. Look closely and that amount is preceded by a date, usually showing two days prior to that transaction.

When I first arrived in Paris, I was baffled by that. ATMs have been in existence in neighboring Belgium since 1980 and even then you could see your balance at the moment of transaction. Apparently, in France the updates are done... wait for it...manually. I still don't know if the person who told me this was pulling my leg (though he was dead serious and defending his country's way of doing business) but what happens is that a branch manager checks all transactions every other day and allows the computer to get up to date.

If that is true (and I never heard any other explanation for the time lag in updates), it means that French people believe that they are more accurate than computers. That is a healthy ego.

When I tell them that elsewhere you can do moderately complicated things like sending someone money instantly through their cell phone which they can withdraw from any ATM, Parisians look at me like I am insane or a science fiction writer.

Why would I want to deposit money through an ATM, a friend told me. It is not secure. What if the machine does not record the transaction? She preferred to go to her branch, wait in line, say bonjour to the teller, take a form from her (the forms are not available elsewhere in the branch), fill it up slowly, give her the cash or cheque to be deposited to her account and wish the teller a good day and leave. 30 minutes of your life to deposit a cheque.

It is not just the ATMs and banking transactions. Once, I was at IKEA buying pieces of a kitchen. To do that, you have to talk to a person in a kiosque who tells you what pieces you need to put the whole thing together. As she was preparing the list through her computer she stopped and called the warehouse. While waiting for her colleague to pick up the phone she explained to me that she was going to check if certain items were in stock. I asked why she was unable to see that in her computer. She looked at me like I was an alien and replied that the inventory is updated once a day.


In other words, they use computers as notebooks (the analog kind) or calculators.

And what is extraordinary is that no French person seems to be aware that better technologies and better uses of technology are available in other parts of the world.

They think what they have is cutting edge.

I know you don't believe me.

How about this:

Remember Minitel? The precursor of the Internet?

As of 2009 there were still 10 million connections every month. And the service is still available.


Eating in Paris

I have been living in Paris since 2004.

I knew the city from the early 1970s as I traveled frequently. I learned French when I was six and I consider it my second mother tongue. In that sense, I think I have a pretty good handle on French way of thinking and culture. But living here full time made me aware of a thousands of tiny details and many idiosyncrasies.

Chief among them were French culinary practices, food choices and taste preferences. When I arrived here, I was a vegetarian. Some fourteen years prior to that moment, I had made a decision to stop eating "anything that can run away from me" to use the hip hop mogul Russell Simmons' definition of vegetarianism.

Within my first year in Paris, I had to make a decision about being a vegetarian. You see, in London or New York, you could go to any restaurant, even a steak house, and you would find at least one vegetarian entry on the menu. If not, they will happily put something together for you.  In Paris, no such option is available. The vast majority of restaurant menus are divided into Meat and Sea Food. And if you ask for the kitchen to come up with something, your waiter will recoil with horror or act with disdain and dismissal. It is as if they consider you culinary choice a direct insult to the chef.

After many important anniversaries spent in dismal Lebanese restaurants sucking on hummus and countless culinary outings limited to omelets in Parisian brasseries, I relented and gradually began to eat like an omnivore.

After all, even the Parisian "omelette baveuse" which I adore, can get tiresome.

(The picture on the right can give you a pretty good idea what "baveuse" means.)

In a way, I am not too sorry that I gave up my choice. The primary reason for my decision was the commodified nature of meat production in North America. If you saw Food Inc, you know what I am talking about. When I made my decision you could not find free range chicken or cattle raised in farms even if you were willing to pay for it. And I won't even mention hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals.

In France, these practices are the norm rather than the exception. Most super market eggs come from free range chicken. While France is the fifth poultry producer in the world, unlike every other developed country, its production system is not highly integrated. Instead, it is dominated by small poultry farms and backyard breeders (there are over 25,000 poultry farms with more than 500 birds). The same is true for cattle and beef production (the marketing, on the other hand, is dominated by big players like the Bigard group).

In other words, the meat you buy is organic (it only lasts 3-4 days in the fridge), it came from an animal that led a decent and free life and was slaughtered humanely. As you could expect, it costs more and it tastes great.

French people, to their everlasting credit, insist on that and don't mind paying extra for it.

In that sense, eating in Paris is a joyous and relatively guilt-free adventure.


I started blogging a year ago.

I wanted to have a tiny corner in that vast universe we call the Internet where I could simply post my thoughts, observations and reactions. Initially, I had no framework or a list of topics I would blog about. But overtime, with gentle nudging from friends and readers, I found myself commenting mostly on political and economic issues.

I have no problem with that as I am a news junkie and I have contrarian views that I don't mind sharing with a tiny group of people. However, after a full year of "serious" commentary, I realized that I have been editing myself and avoiding "lighter" topics.

Hence, this blog. Ostensibly for lighter topics.

I have no fixed plans. I may post a recipe, the picture of a homeless man, comment on a meal I had and vent my frustration with countless idiosyncrasies you struggle with everyday.