The Adventures of a 12 pound Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) going to Paris.


Tom & Maxine like to travel. Blogging helps us create a record of the trips, and share with friends and family...

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Sense of Place

It's a bit of a trick -- and I hope I'm managing it reasonably well -- to straddle the line between writing a journal of my experiences, and writing something interesting in a more general sense, about our trip. Here's a continuation, on the theme of a sense of place (but, maybe I'm holding myself to too high a standard?). Anyway....

We've managed to find a great outdoor food market, on Blvd. Raspail! The one nearer to us, rue Buci, seems to be experiencing the economic transformation that this entire area has seen. In other words, prices have run up so much that it's hard to make a living selling olives or peppers or stuffed chickens in the area. That's just life -- it always struck me that in (US) malls the Mrs. Fields stores had more people paying for things than anywhere else! Anyway, the one on Raspail 'meets or exceeds our expectations'! We've discovered that it is as easy to find great food for $10 as it is for $100. Both have their benefits (for one, the $10 meal is eaten at home). But having the alternatives makes it easier to conceive of being here for 2 months.

It's Saturday morning right now. We've been in the apartment for exactly one week. The jet lag is long gone. We've figured out how to do the dance of moving around in a small apartment and not bumping into each other. We know (now) where to buy great food. We have train passes. We've found a place for Cassie to hang out. We have a cafe that welcomes her. What don't we (tom) have yet? A great chocolate place...

On other vacations I've made it a project to test out the various chocolate alternatives. They seem especially prevalent here in France and also in Belgium (something to do with speaking French?) Yesterday we realized that we've been here much too long not to have bought any chocolate. We took care of that. But, it was good and not great chocolate. Our research will need to continue!

Yesterday we concluded our local bakery research. We went to Poilane, which has at various times been written up as 'the greatest baker/bakery' in Paris (he died a couple years ago). Our bread research was a bit more limited than I envision our chocolate research being. We've tested 3 bakeries. Within the range from our apartment to Poilane I'd have to guess that there are 100 bakeries. So, researching 3 isn't much. The ones we've gone to are, first of all, the 2 closest. The corner bakery and the next nearest. The next nearest is Gerard Mulot, which, conveniently, is another one of those 'best of Paris' bakeries (we feel like we're in a good neighborhood). The corner bakery has the benefit of being perhaps 50 paces from the front door and friendly in a local way. Mulot is maybe 150 paces and the sign on the door is in French, English and Japanese... Poilane has become something of a corporation after all the reviews they've received. Probably a bit too much attention, and not worth the distance to walk. SO, we're making Mulot our local bakery.

Why did I bother with that prior paragraph??? Simply, bread products here are just different. Maybe each area of the world has it's food expertise (and some have more than one). But, I'm thinking of Portland, Oregon, where the beer is unlike anywhere else. Here, the bread beats out any other bread (the LA stuff from La Brea Bakery, is pretty good, but not as good -- and yes, they've gone corporate too!)

Cassie is staring out the window of the living room right now. You might be able to see from the picture that the window starts around 12inches from the floor. So, even at her small size, she can look down the 6 floors to the street. She appears to be endlessly fascinated by the people, cars, etc. moving by. It is more than she's ever seen.

While I'm on the subject of Cassie: two nights ago we went to the cafe for a late beer. Our waiter was quite the stern looking young frenchman, very professional, keeping an eye on 40 tables quite well. He was the sort of guy who could put a bottle down on your table, open it, pour it, and continue to balance a tray with 6 other open beverage classes in his other hand -- all while standing with great posture. We had Cassie underfoot, but we were being very careful because we didn't want her barking at this stern/french/waiter. Unfortunately, she did after he made a surprise pirouette in front of her. (He didn't have the sort of demeanor that led you to think he would do a pirouette, but it fit with his efficiency and professionalism). When he did it, she began barking at him. It turned out to be a good thing -- he was very very amused that this little dog was there and had the courage to bark! For the rest of the evening he kept coming by to talk to her. We told him that she was from Los Angeles, Maxine had to explain to him that Cassie didn't speak French, etc. At the end of the evening he asked Cassie's name -- just to make this even more obvious, he didn't ask our names, just hers.


Blogger Melodie said...

The bread stories make me drool but the dog stories are my favorite - they make me laugh :)

Who would have guessed that efficient French waiters like sassy American dogs!

6:22 AM  

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