Reunited

9 Apr

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When we first met, it was love at first sight. She was so beautiful, so enchanting, full of history and so mysterious. I loved everything about her. How could so much have changed in just 25 years? For her it was a short blip in time – for me, a lifetime had gone by since last we met. Perhaps it was me who had changed so much. For me, I had enjoyed raising two children, building a home for my family in a distant land, and a career. For her, it seemed as though she had been the backdrop for a hundred-million snapshots. After the initial glimpse, the recognition of the beauty and the familiarness I felt for her, I realized she was the same old girl from 1988. She was dirtier than I recall, a bit more jaded, more Americanized by the corroding effects of the constant stream of gawking tourists. She gave up her “franc” – ness and perhaps some of her French – ness, yet she had not bothered to adopt any of the redeeming features of the 21st Century: no recycling, no bio-deisel, nothing new in the skyline.

…and I realized I have a new love.

Maybe my new girl is all gussied up for her big date fast approaching in August of this year.

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Or maybe my new love has captured my heart for the way she has embraced the future while respecting the past. Her new silhouette is a stunning tribute to both her age and her youth – her tradition and her daring. It shows off her beauty of yesteryear as well as her mature sensibility with an eye for style. Her forward thinking is everywhere. Recycling bins dot every street, upgrades and planned works for the mass transit including “green” buses and biking lanes on the roads.

But what has shocked me most about the difference between these two cities, both of which I visited in 1988 and have only returned to this year, is the food. Yes, the food. I remember being so taken by the food in Paris – everything was so fresh and well-prepared back in 1988. The bread, the coffee, the croissants all added to my love affair with Paris. Our trip to London that year included fish and chips in newspaper and steak and kidney pie. You can still find such fare in London if you look hard enough and stick to the mostly touristy spots, but you can also find amazing, well-prepared, incredibly fresh and delicious meals for a reasonable price. Hake with sauteed kale and celeriac puree, or roasted duck with steamed cabbage and jersey royals – all prepared perfectly for around £14 ( roughly 22 bucks) – I ordered Noix de Saint-Jacques one night in Paris at a nice little bistro. It was tasty, but nothing special. The cream sauce started to split on my plate, it was heavy and not served with anything green.

What has really chuffed me the most about Paris though, is the coffee. Un café au lait. I know I can say it clearly in French. I know I drank it daily during my year there. Yet, it did not appear on a menu anywhere I went. Café milk. Really? No! I’m sorry, I cannot forgive this. If you are going to charge $6 for a cup of it – use the F$%&@ French word for it at least! It’s over between us – for now.

 

 

One Response to “Reunited”

  1. Allison Mahaley April 9, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Reblogged this on About the things I have lost… and commented:
    My trip to Paris

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