Le Meme Chose

So here I was worried about packing enough shoes and, as it turns out, I should have been more concerned about packing appropriately for the weather. Today’s high temperature was a blustery 65 degrees with tonight’s low predicted to be about 57! Turns out my feet are just fine. I’ve just got a serious on and off case of the goosebumps.

I know, I know, take my story walking right? I’m sure you all find these temperatures to be rather refreshing considering it is so crispy at home. And, of course, I completely understand that you are not concerned that I’m going to have to find about 7 different ways to mix and match my denim jacket in order to stay warm here. I’m also aware that you don’t care that I’m without my favorite pair of cozy sweatpants and an umbrella. I’m not complaining though. I’ve got Paris.

In fact, Paul and I’ve come to a huge realization in our first eight days of living here. We can live comfortably and happily with a lot less stuff. Which means I’m probably going to have to start chucking some boxes of “important papers” when I get home. That’s code for the boxes of things I just couldn’t live without that I transported from Maryland to Paul’s garage when I first moved in. Paul still questions how these boxes could be so important when I can’t even remember what’s in them anymore.

For lunch yesterday we went to Sorza on Ile St. Louis, a small and intimate Italian restaurant that we discovered the last time we were in Paris. We think Sorza is the perfect mix of Italy meets France-a superb combination of French baguette and pasta. In fact, I think we went through three baskets of bread yesterday! Sorza was our little secret for quite awhile. On our last trip here, we didn’t want to admit that we broke down and satisfied our pasta cravings at an Italian restaurant in France. I mean, Julia Child would certainly be disappointed in us, right? The truth is though, even the French feel the need to expand beyond the traditional from time to time. This was clear just a few nights ago when we watched a group of young boys feasting on Dominos pizza on the edge of the Seine. Not to mention the killer business the KFC is doing around the corner from us. While I would not suggest eating at either one of these establishments, I do think it is okay to step outside the legendary French cuisine from time to time.

I do have to mention the salad that I enjoyed at Sorza yesterday. It consisted of arugula and a confit of tomatoes topped with a poached egg. Until now I would never consider having a poached egg on anything. Yet here, the first thing I look for on any menu is an item that comes with a poached egg on top. It is the magic touch to any dish and if it is there, I order it. Even Paul looks at me dreamy eyed every time he tastes one of my poached egg selections. Our main dishes were creamy parmesan risotto for Paul and ricotta filled ravioli with cream sauce for me. Both were outstanding and portioned just right.

After lunch we took a walk along the Seine and ducked into a bookstore just long enough to avoid the short onslaught of rain. We didn’t duck into just any bookstore though. Shakespeare and Company, located just opposite Notre Dame on the Left Bank, is a gem, a must-see for anyone who loves to read and write. Both an English language bookstore and library, works of literature are tucked into every crevice and stacked from floor to ceiling. Most importantly, Shakespeare and Company served as sleeping quarters for many famous and aspiring writers over the years and, if you make your way past the crowd and up the stairs, you can see the beds, play the piano, and or sit at an old typewriter. Owned and operated by the late George Whitman, he drove his business with kindness “Give what you can, take what you need.” and “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise”. The world needs more George Whitmans if you ask me.

This morning we woke up early, navigated two different lines on the Metro, and successfully purchased apricots, cherries, and strawberries at the Rue Mouffetard market. Successfully is the key word here as we’ve been a little nervous when it comes to actually buying things at the markets. It is one thing to stroll through and peruse the goods, oohing and ahhing all the way down the street. You don’t need to speak French to do that. But, to actually purchase something, well then you need to communicate. And when you don’t know if you should just pick up the fruit yourself or if they should pick up the fruit, it can be quite a nerve wracking experience. But, I dove head first into it today and, I must say, Paul was quite impressed.

To put it frankly, my French is awful. While my high school Spanish got us through Spain, and the Spanish accent helped get us through Italy, Paul is getting us through France and I’m just butchering the language as I go. I try, a little from time to time. I can say “Bonjour” pretty nicely and I can ask for the check, but that’s about it. Yet today, I decided to break down some barriers and take a risk, one that Paul never saw coming. Years ago he taught me how to say, “the same thing” or “le meme chose”. It was quite useful. If we ordered something at a cafe and I wanted another of the same thing, all I’d have to say was “le meme chose”. So, after eyeing up an enormous pile of dark red cherries for quite some time, I stood back and observed. An older lady approached the vendor. She said something in French and he, in turn, with his big scooper, gathered a bunch of cherries, poured them in a paper bag, handed them over to his partner next to him and she, in turn, paid for them. That looked easy I thought. So I immediately went up behind her and in my most confident French belted out “le meme chose!” The vendor’s face lit up with a smile and he quickly picked up the scooper and said, “le meme chose!” just as cheerfully as I said it. Next thing you know, I had a big bag of cherries and an overly proud husband. “Wow baby! Look at you using the “le meme chose”. I could barely contain myself I was so excited.

I boarded the Metro with a new kind of confidence, with my bags of fruit in hand, looking and feeling like I had some kind of understanding of how it works here. It was priceless. We returned to the apartment, filled up our fruit basket, and took a few samples. The fruit was ripe, juicy, and refreshing. A colorful addition to our cute little abode.

So here we are relaxing after a morning at the market, a quick yet chilly croque monsieur lunch in the Jardin de Tuileries, and a lovely dinner at Le Paname, the cafe across the street. We’ve neglected Le Paname for no good reason and tonight, after realizing almost everything closes in Paris on Sunday, we decided to give it a try for dinner. We ate here upon our arrival last Sunday and although we had a delicious and filling meal, we didn’t return until now, a full week later. Paul ordered the same sandwich he had last week, yet I tried something new, macaroni in a creamy truffle sauce. Paul’s food envy kicked in as my dish was fabulous and he couldn’t resist stealing small bites from across the table.

I leave you tonight with this picture of our new dryer. Isn’t it fabulous?! To think, all those years I insisted we need a top of the line, energy efficient front loader, when this would have done us just fine…

2 Comments on “Le Meme Chose

  1. Can’t wait to try the cherries, and love the dryer ha! ha! love you both

  2. Just returned home from Bermuda and decided to check out your blog….just lovely! It does not, however, make the transition from Bermuda back to the U.S. any easier, as now I want to be in Paris eating Croque Monsieurs….maybe if I tap my heels 3 times and say “le meme chose”…..

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