Friday, February 27, 2009

So many pictures, so many of them indelible. The daily assortment and editing and the limited space on the blog has meant a pretty big inventory of Parisian images. Herewith are posted a few of my favorites. From the top: Ile St-Louis at night, with the Ile de Cite on the right; the Pompidou Center; Musee d’Orsay atrium; Notre Dame; the Musee du Louvre. So now two months have passed. The months slipped by fast, but the days moved at a much slower pace. How to spend the time? Your call. For me, I looked with eyes wide open; I looked a lot. And I did not take myself or too much around me too seriously. I laughed a lot. Loved those translations on the English-speaking menus:• Hazelnut of roebuck, wipes in blueberries, its bundle of firewood of green beans, and its creamy polenta. • Chiffonade of smoked salmon have thirst home and taken up cream • Snails of burgundy, six rooms • fishes according to the tide • we can provide tracebility of our meat origins • wine got olden in barrel. I have been lucky for the privilege of being introduced to friends of friends, and I have made a few on my own. I always have borne in mind that I am a stranger (a foreigner) in Paris. The habits differ from those back home. The pace, particularly at restaurants, is much slower. Be prepared for that; have a book to read at hand if you are alone. Always have a book to read. You might think no one has noticed that you are waiting. Read that book and be patient; but first read the menu and make a choice so that when the server does come along you can place your order. Don’t lose the moment. Have a guide book—most are absolutely terrific—but use it only as a guide. Try ethnic cuisines. Rarely do they disappoint. Does it help to speak French? I am certain that it does. Is it necessary for a basic comfort level? No. English, for better or worse, is a universal language and just about everyone you will run into can speak a few words. That is all you need to get by. Learn how to read a French menu: poulet means chicken but it is handy to know another noun here, else the breast you think you have ordered may be a gizzard. Experiment and explore and try to get a sense of bearing right away. Be prepared to talk about the U.S. when asked and always explain that New York City is not America. There is more. Many people you talk to will have visited the United States, few will have a really good grasp. Over cocktails shortly after I arrived and in answer to the inevitable question about where exactly in the US do I live, I told a woman I was from Kentucky. “Oh, yes, Kentucky,”, she said. “I visited there one time, and stayed in nice little town between Paris and Versailles.” “That little town,” I explained to my new French friend, “is Lexington.” And now I head home, to Lexington, that nice little town. But with grand memories of a nice big town. Like Bogart and Bergman, now I, too, will always have Paris.

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