Saturday, April 18, 2009

Now I know what I look like

My first guests to Paris arrived yesterday: Mom and Bob. It was a thrill to see them and lead them around the city, rendering them speechless with so much beauty.

We strolled through marché aux fleurs and ogled the lavender plants, bouquets of ranunculas, and petite olive trees. We listened to the deeply moving bells clanging outside Notre Dame at noon. We peeped in all the windows on rue Saint Louis on the Ile Saint-Louis.

Then it was onto the Left Bank: past the Sorbonne, to a great little café for lunch of salads, omelettes and roast chicken, through Saint-Germain, back across the Seine with its ridiculously perfect views, through the quartier Montorgueil and (cough) up those six flights of stairs.

I knew they had a great day and loved the city. But it wasn’t until dinner that I knew they were deeply affected.

Instead of going out to a restaurant, we decided to make sandwiches (and have dessert, bien sur) at home. So Mom and I went over to rue Montorgueil and picked up still-warm baguettes from two different boulangeries, thinly sliced ham and fresh mozzarella at a chacuterie and three cakes for dessert. Then back to the apartment (those pesky six flights, still there—what’s up with that??) for our modest little dinner.

It started with the sandwiches, which starts, as always, with the bread. So crusty and crunchy on the outside, but soft, squishy and perfect on the inside. Mom and Bob had ham. I had mozzarella with some olive oil, salt and pepper. The look on their faces was priceless: absolute food bliss. The more they ate, the slower they went, wanting to prolong the taste of simple perfection.

Then dessert. I sliced our three pieces of cake in thirds so we could each sample the flavors: pistachio raspberry, pear grapefruit and a classic chocolate. We ate. More stunned silence. More looks of disbelief. More heaven. When Mom took a bite of the pistachio raspberry cake, she had to put her fork down. It was almost as if she were disgusted, but it was just the opposite.

This might be one of those “they came for the sights and stayed for the sugar” kind of visits.

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