It's noon-time and I'm eating the last of the Rainier cherries and a baguette of French Bread (from the Safeway bakery) with a special French butter <1> I got last night. Set me thinkin' to the first time I had a baguette. I was walking between my hotel and the Eiffel Tower, having arrived in Paris not long before. I bought bread along the way, being hungry. My brother J had instructed me to request "un baguette, si vous plait" at the first likely shop I came to, and I received the long, very narrow loaf in wonder. Outside of the shop I just started munching it raw; it was the tastiest thing. Halfway through, I'd reached the park of the Tower, and I rested at a park bench, reading Arthur C. Clarke's Imperial Earth until I'd finished the baguette, whereupon I walked over to the base of the Tour Eiffel and went up.
Hanging around Munich and then en route to Paris I read Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast - I can't recommend a better introduction to the City of Light. Paris as it was perhaps, but Paris at its best. After reading it I had to be there RIGHT AWAY!
I first visited Paris in late Spring twenty-one years ago. After de-training at the Gare I found very reasonable lodging at a small place on the Left Banke called the Hôtel Saint-Michel, just behind the Place St. Andre des Arts. My room was five flights up. There was a little fountain in the lobby, at the base of the corkscrew stairway, which contained a single goldfish.
My last visit to Paris was a stay of several days with David in 1984, at the end of my Scandinavian tour of Europe. He was house-sitting for the owner of a Southwestern shop & had the run of her adjacent apartment. It was such a relief to be in Paris with him, since his knowledge of the language meant I could stand by, mute, whenever any French needed speaking. I met his boyfriend Peter on that trip - he would die the next year, and David returned to the USA the year following. Since David's death I've only had marginal interest in a Parisian return, although this trip coming up I may visit their second city, Lyons.
"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."
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<1>There's talk on ba.food about something called "cultured
butter", how it's a European process which makes the butter more flavorful. I hoped this might be it but I'm not sure: