Another Prequel (ref: Lapin in Savannah) circa 2007 . . . another meal from the road by myself (ref Lapin in Savannah), this time Paris . . . another note to the genial Irishman and superior human being, Pat whose dream I was at the time living (ref Lapin in Savannah) . . .
. . . It’s late in Paris and the warm glow in my stomach argues with St. Emilion in my head. The good saint is fair minded and having had only three conversations this eve and despite being from Houston, this night intellect will reign, at least as far as I can judge. There are many thoughts to share, but then the French edition of Pirates of the Caribbean on TV seems an easier path to much needed rest. Oh what the hell. Johnny Depp lives here and seems much less exotic than at home.
Caveats. I choose not to employ the word frickin’ or its more robust relative in this essay, chronicle or whatever the hell it turns out to be. It’s not my way. Had I chosen otherwise, the words would have been directed as adjectives and used exclusively in a positive sense. As in frickin’ amazing, frickin’ incredible or frickin’ unbelievable (depending on context this latter application could convey either bewilderment or rapture, let context rule). As a reader, you may use your good judgment and relative taste to insert the aforementioned modifier, or its more robust relative, as needed – much like one would use Tabasco. Your call. And for the second caveat, let’s be clear that I have worked for each of the last couple of days, probably well over eight hours and at odd hours. Also traveled on the weekend so no predictable shit in retort to these musings, or, again, essay/chronicle etc.
Let’s get back to the warm glow I mentioned earlier. Have you ever wanted to rub warm green mushy food into your skin? Or lamb (cooked, not wool). Neither had I, but shortly after the man said “bon gestation” – another caveat, don’t fuss about any French spellings – I experienced if not a cathartic moment or even nirvana, at least a taste, as in sensory not judgmental, that melted away the distraction of the two too-generic-American-touristy-white bread women at the facing table and the heavy-not fat but heavy balding-not bald but balding guy in the far corner who insisted a second time on ordering steak after rejecting the waiter’s order confirmation of boeuf as too fancy for a guy like him. I wasn’t dipping on a conversation, he was that loud. The only thing that drew my interest beyond annoyance was a perception that had he been 100 pounds heavier and a monk, he might have been cast in a Canterbury Tale. Or at least an extra in the Middle Ages. He looked over at my table too much for my taste. I recall feeling that I hoped he wasn’t from Texas; maybe some immaterial western state or better yet Massachusetts. But I digress. In fairness to complete the tableau, or digression in this case, to my left was an Asian couple – let’s say Japanese – and to their left, or at least the left of the one who was facing the same direction as me was a bald guy who seemed to be enjoying his meal as much as I. Otherwise everyone seemed French or I just didn’t notice.
The green stuff was crème brulee pistache (io). Unbelievable. The reason I wanted to rub it into my skin was in hopes of slowing the rate of absorption to prolong the pleasure. I envisioned a little first on the nose, then maybe proceeding to the cheeks and neck, kind of like suntan lotion. As it was a small bowl, I would have run out shortly thereafter. Sorry to disappoint. Of course there was also the regular flavor crème brulee plus, making it one short of a quartet, the chocolate which I didn’t eat out of fear that it could not handle the pressure of standards established by the others. This is what dessert should be, not fruit, not ice cream – well let’s not get too carried away – not cheese and port, pistachio crème brulee is it. Then the waiter brought the bill and another St. Emilion. Can’t be sure this would be the case throughout France, but at this particular brasserie, it was a bottomless glass. Much like Coke or Dr. Pepper at home. Buy one, get two free St. Emilions. Not quite turning water into wine, but this might explain the roots of sainthood accorded this grape. Or maybe the waiter just liked my attempt at French, or perhaps felt guilty about putting a blackboard with the English version of the menu about two inches from my face earlier in the meal. When I asked about the French blackboard it was because the handwriting was bad, not a language deficiency. Awright no big deal. Well earned redemption for the waiter.
Back to the lamb. Knife you say? Fork? No need. Thyme rubbed was not nearly sufficient on the menu description. This thing absorbed some juice over more hours than I have traveled this week and oozed thyme/olive oil/truffles like a pompous lawyer breathes Latin. It was a shoulder they said, but it couldn’t have worked out much. The texture was what veal aspired to be if it grew up. Until the arrival of the crème brulee, I thought I might need a cigarette. Then a guy showed up at the front in a grey pinstriped suit with a handkerchief creased so sharp in his pocket that it looked like it could slice bread. The blonde at the counter saw it too, but then she’d seen it before and stretched a smile around her cheek in my direction that beat the turn of her head by what seemed like Secretariat’s margin of victory in the Belmont. . . Oops, got carried away there. No guy in pinstripes. No blonde with an elastic smile. Been reading Raymond Chandler of late and it’s infectious. Anyway, I was glad I had worked out earlier tonight. The 240 calories burned on the stationery bike seem a wash.
Too tired to go on though if I did I might examine why the Japanese woman to my left reached in front of me to snatch the salt and pepper without asking, then after applying it to her raw meal, put it on the table to her left. Or why everything the Japanese couple ate looked raw even though there was nothing raw on the menu, even the French menu with the bad handwriting.
Later, yesterday’s moule e’ frittes/Abbey ales/ Donmar Theatre evening. The business meeting really went well too.