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Friday, July 31, 2015

How many ingredients can I fit into one crepe?

I started the day doing laundry and cleaning house. By late morning I had decided on my course of action for my last day here on my own. It just popped in my head to go to the Canal St. Martin. It’s a canal that has become kind of trendy in the last decade or so.  I’d spent some time there during my mosaic project when we’d stayed and worked a little further out, near the Canal d’Ourq.  It had occurred to me to try to find the housing project where we’d worked, When we left the mosaic had not yet been installed, and there seemed to be some discussion about the location would be. Part of me worries that it never did get installed, which would be a terrible shame. So maybe it’s better not to look for it. I also wasn’t sure I’d remember the location. I’d looked on the map and couldn’t identify the street.

So, I headed along the canal, starting at its farthest reach and heading toward the center of the city. I’d taken the metro to Jaures, a station I don’t remember ever having been to before.  It was at the juncture of the St. Martin and La Villette canals. There are boats that cruise the canals, one that you can take from there to the Musee DOrsay. I’d also read about boats of different sizes that you could rent and pilot yourself. That could be fun, although it was expensive. Forty euros for an hour, 70 for two. Guess it wouldn’t be unreasonable for four folks.

The canal neighborhood seemed about as I remembered it from four or five years ago, maybe even more, when I was last there. I am disappointed that I haven’t been able to locate any fine art crafts stores.

 It seems like the city ought to be rife with them.  When I try googling artisan I come up with things like bakeries and chocolatiers. I expected to find them in the 11th, in the 3rd and 4th,  and today, but just haven’t found the right places. The large space in the Marais where there was a wonderful exhibit a few trips ago was empty, it looked like they were just on hiatus between exhibits. I read about  a crafts fair that’s on Saturdays in Belleville, but just didn’t make it there on any of these Saturdays. And am sure it’s the last thing Loring will want to do in his three days here, and I don’t  blame him.

So, what’s on the agenda for the next three days?  Aside from pastries and ice cream? Well,  if all goes according to plan, Loring will emerge from the metro tomorrow morning on the same escalator that was my downfall, so to speak, three weeks ago. And I will be sitting on my little balcony where , in theory, we should be able to spot each other.  We’ll see. But I think I’ve used up my share of bad karma around that escalator.

I have more thoughts and ideas for the next three days than we will ever be able to cram in. My thoughts for day one:  a stroll thru the gardens and over to chez Gertude and Alice. And then back in this direction to the Pantheon, a mere couple of blocks from here. Its dome is under reconstruction, an impressive sight in itself.  I think it is still open for visits. The tombs of many famous Frenchmen, and at least one woman, Marie Curie, are there. I don’t remember ever having been there, and I think it’s worth of visit. Later, a stroll down the Boul Mich (we might have to stop at the neighborhood crepe stand somewhere in there) and across the river past Notre Dame, to Paris Plage, and, hopefully, the  dance stage. And some ice cream. Hmm, mght have to reschedule the crepe.

For the next couple of days, I have a slew of ideas from which we will have to pick and choose , more than Loring’s museum tolerance. (mine seems to be endless, I’m ready to go back to several that I’ve already been to this trip)  I think Loring should rent a velib, one of the shared bicycles. It’s impressive how well used they are. It cost less than 2 euros a day, and the first half hour is free. I sat at a café today drinking my citron presse, right in front of a metro stop that was also a velib depot. People came and went constantly.  Some were in suits, some in short skirts. Lots of people had their bags in the bike’s basket. Some came up from and went into the metro, but lots of others went off walking after depositing their bikes.

I’ve been enjoying my citrons presse.  Most places seem to make them, although many don’t have them on the drink menu. With the extra glass and ice I always request, you can make it go a long way.  Not that it matters in terms of how long you can stay at the café. No one ever asks you to leave. And, in fact, they don’t ever, in my experience, bring the bill until you request it.

 I was a bit surprised today when the man at the next table asked me if it was lemon, and if I added sugar to it, and if it was good.  Is this something old fashioned and no longer popular?  I don’t have any recollection of where or when I first had them. The man was about my age, and seemed quite Parisian.  I t may not be popular, but it is definitely a part of my own Paris experience.

I got a crepe at the neighborhood place just as I was getting back home. I was going to be good and have a savory one (sale, as opposed to sucre.) But they had only ham, cheese, eggs, tomatoes for ingredients. I was yearning for spinach. So I told myself I’d have a backwards meal, first a dessert crepe, then something with spinach, eggs and cheese at the apartment. (you know the upshot, I never did have the supper, was too filled up from the dessert.)

 I love to watch the guys make them.They spread the batter really thin on the griddle, and in a few minutes the guy flips it (i've only seen one female crepiere) and the cooked side is a beautiful golden brown. They make it look easy, but I remember trying many years ago and not having much luck.

  I’ve had chocolate and coconut, and chocolate and banana, and chocolate and Grand Marnier. This time I asked for chocolate, banana, and coconut. I I almost asked him to add some Grand Marnier, but resisted.    And then he asked me if it was okay to add some butter.  He was afraid that it was going to be too dry. ( Well, bien sure.).  It looked so beautiful, and I said," parfait", perfect,  to him as I walked away.   I ate a few bites as I walked across the street, then the rest on the balcony when I got back here. Sheer delight. Maybe next time I’ll dare to ask for the Grand Marnier as well. I really haven't had that many, just three in three weeks. Really, I'm being quite good. 

Well, time to sign off for tonight and watch the tower sparkle. Next time I write, I should be describing the combined adventures of myself and Loring.


past focus said...

good to hear you are having a savoury session with the citrons pressés as you relish the vélibs coming and going...
So enjoyed our time together - how is Paris plage doing ? Did you see any more break-dancers hitting the rough pavements ?
My warm regards to you and Loring. M

Joanna said...

Saw the breakdancers again, same routine, different kid. Tried to see the dancing and have ice cream again but it was over by the time we got there. Had lots of more nice Paris experiences though, and are now enjoying London. Even the one day tube strike hasn't bothered us except feeling bad for all the people who have to walk to and from work.