Sunday, December 11, 2005

from Paris: if you know me then you’ll know that in Europe, on a Sunday, you can always find me in the nearest park.

There isn't a text that I need to add here. At the Jardin du Luxembourg the bright sun coaxes me out, the light wind reminds me that it is December. Still, tell that to the children, and those used to a pause on a park chair, or to the flowers that refuse to give up for the year. Tell them, go ahead, tell them that the season calls for different behavior. If you give us the light and the bright sky, we will come out and stand or sit facing the rays. And the children will run around us. This is the way one should regard Paris. Children playing around all of us. For a day one can believe that this still is a Paris for everyone. For a day. In the public space of a park. Wistful sigh...

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le jardin

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little girl with sucker

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man reading paper next to blooming flowers

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winter blooms

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smiling at the boat and the ducks

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the boat and the ducks

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dad, showing the world (in photography) to the daughters in pink

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facing the light

from Paris: it was the brest that did him in; for me it was the French coq

Saturday evening started in a tame mode. We went out for an aperitif. Twice the dense fumes of smokers drove my companion, “Ed,” out. At the third place we stayed.

My ruby drink set fire to the table. My French scarf warmed my body. A French man sat across from us at the café. He mumbled something. I mumbled back. Ho hum. Time to move on.

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At the quintessential Parisian bistro at a late late hour, I got fired up. The man at the table next to ours ordered a cheese tray. He took a portion. And another. And another. And still another. Doesn’t he know the unspoken rules of cheese conduct? I am in a tizzy. Oh, but then I notice that he is Italian. There is something in his manner. I know, it is unfair. Still, I am forgiving.

Ed stays calm at this point. He eats at a snails pace. Actually he eats snails (I say it was the fault of those snails).

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les escargots

Me, I am ready for some French coq au vin. I haven’t had it for decades! Piping hot, with four soft, boiled, round potatoes at the side.

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coq au vin

But then comes the brest. Paris brest. Puffed up in the oven, smothered with caramel cream, the size of a dinner plate!

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paris brest

I eat it, Ed finishes it. Cognac aux pruneaux is surreptitiously poured into my coffee by the waiter. The rest is a blurr.

That’s it, Ed tells me the next day. I cannot take this pace every day.

Today, he stays in the hotel, resting. Me, I’m ready to go. One coq and a brest? What’s the big deal? I set off for the local Café.

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reading the Café's own cookbook