Excerpt from “A French Love Affair,” At the Table, Nourishing Conversation and Food:
“I love France….I’m seduced by its charm and perfectly proportioned beauty: the long, wide avenues where evenly dispersed plane trees hang out alluringly at the curb, languid and statuesque, their smooth, mottled trunks as lustrous as a young woman’s legs, their broad leaves filtering a hazy sun and stitching the ground in a patchwork quilt of white and black.
I love the tidy crushed-stone paths in parks, whose pebbles gently massage my feet as I watch children nudge their reluctant sailboats acrosss still ponds, and stooped old ladies brandish their rapier-like umbrellas to shoo away yapping dogs.
I love the wooden benches along riverbanks where lovers embrace,
the geometrically-shaped beds of flowers shouting spring,
the little hidden squares on side streets and the stately ones at main intersections.
Elegant fountains adorned with statues of historic figures, wild beasts, and cherubic infants, shower rippling pools where adults sit, surveying the adjacent cafes.
Where to have breakfast, lunch or dinner? Under which rainbow-coloured awning? From which menu chalked on a white-smudged blackboard at an entrance where a waiter stands in black waistcoat and tie?
I can see myself spinning out my declining years eating serially in the cafes of Paris. Ah, Paris! I love it….
Whether or not it is still acceptable, for breakfast I will buy a rich, crumbling croissant aux amandes at a patisserie and then carry it with me to an outdoor cafe, where I will order a cafe au lait. Preferably the cafe will be on a square with a fountain, but it doesn’t really matter, for I will pass most of my time watching the moving scene before me, guessing the nationality, occupation and destination of every passerby.
For lunch, I’ll have a salade Nicoise or a croque monsieur, but now the cafe must definitely be on a square, for I will be there longer, more engrossed in people-guessing and eavesdropping on conversation at other tables–suited businessmen, leather cases resting against freshly pressed flannels, sealing a deal; women whose silk neck scarves have more penache than strings of pearls describing their latest purchases from the Galeries Lafayette; tourists, their choices in guidebooks disclosing their nationalities, discussing whether to do the Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay in the afternoon; lovers enjoying their first tryst, and others quarelling at the point of breakup.
I am transfixed until mid-afternoon, when I must start walking to prepare myself for dinner.
And dinner? Where tonight?
To read more, you can purchase a copy of At the Table, Nourishing Conversation and Food, from Penumbra Press at: http://www.penumbrapress.com/book.php?id=360.