On yesterday’s flâne I ran across L’Absinthe Café, a neighborhood restaurant that Elliot Marks recommended a few years back. I have eaten there many times in prior trips, so I decided to stop for lunch. I stood waiting inside the doorway while a stream of regulars came in, kissed a waiter on both cheeks and were shown their tables. Finally I asserted my self, said good day and asked for a table. From that point on I was treated with the utmost courtesy, including many au revoirs on my departure. But what was the reason for the delay in greeting me? I was of course a stranger; perhaps a bit off-putting, with my imposing beard, odd hat, weathered shoes. But I think there might have been an element of shyness, as well as perhaps a concern that I would prove to be an “ugly American,” aggressively speaking only English. Certainly shy people are not always nice, but is it possible that nice people are always a bit shy?
When I looked at the menu (what we would call the prix fixe menu) I was bemused to see only two main courses – meatballs of some sort (which I avoid) and “filet de vieille.” To my knowledge that meant only one thing — old lady! — so I unobtrusively looked it up on my iPhone, which said the same thing! I had to ask whether this was actually some sort of fish, which fortunately it was. Which exactly I couldn’t say, but it was delicious.
Errors like this are frequent as one begins to learn a language (and fish are especially problematic, since there may be no equivalent word in English). But as one spends more time in a foreign country one comes to realize that the language actually used is flawed as well. A continuation of yesterday’s walk took me along Avenue Jean-Jaurès in the 19me. As I walked I wondered how exactly Jaurès was pronounced, since I’ve never quite “gotten” the sound of the accent grave. But then I looked up, and my question was answered…
…wrongly, but who am I to criticize a Frenchman’s accent?
Here are a couple more photos from my walk through the 19me:
Just for fun, I thought I’d share this sinister image I noticed on a roadside map: A Spectre is Haunting La Villette!
There were some clouds the first few days, but the forecast is mouth watering:
The weather here is on the whole a bit more temperate than Boston, but otherwise remarkably similar. Fall is my favorite season there, and so far it suits me here as well.
My first night, after a good dinner at La Bocca, I stopped by The Experimental Cocktail Club, which I had enjoyed last year with Rafael, and later with Michael Ǻhs. It’s literally four doors down on my street, so hard to pass up! It was quieter than last year, but the bartenders were charming and friendly so it was a nice experience. Last night, after a Swedish movie and Persian dinner with Lisa and Ali I got home to rue Montorgueil around midnight, but the place was still hopping:
I’m determined to do a better job of exploring the night this year!