In preparing for this week’s cooking class, “On A Little Street In Paris Night”, Dean and I have been reminiscing about our last stay in Paris. It was a little over a year ago, with two good friends, Tom and Dianne, and it was part of a month-long exploration of the United Kingdom. We visited wild and wonderful Scotland, including the Orkney Islands, the Isle of Skye and Edinburgh. We walked England’s Lake District. The actor who played Lord of Bones gave us a tour of a reconstructed 12th century village in Wales where everybody died of plague.  In keeping with our travel philosophy, we spent a minimum of three days everywhere, in a rental house or apartment, so we could food shop, talk with vendors and fellow shoppers about their everyday and claim-to-fame recipes, and merge into the local culture as best we could. We had a four- day slot before our final adventure in London and we decided to take the train through the Chunnel and spend them in Paris since Dianne had never been.

We emerged from the Metro onto la Rue Monge and walked the two blocks to our first- floor flat. A large window in the salon opened out to look down on the quiet street behind. There were two little bedrooms and a bathroom which, in a 6’ by 8’ space, contained a commode, a sink and a showering area. Tucked between two tiled walls, we showered standing on a slightly sloping floor, designed so that most of the water would flow toward to the drain. There was a squeegee to gather up what escaped. It worked. What more did we need?

Now, the kitchen was truly remarkable. It was a 6” step up to floor which was 18 inches by 48 inches. To the left was the sink, 18 inches wide with an additional 24 inches of counter to the outside wall. A bit more counter as we turn 90 degrees and head toward the cooking unit – a four burner gas cooktop and, underneath a convection/microwave, straight ahead as you “entered” the kitchen. Another 6 inches of countertop and we hit the right hand wall which contained – I kid you not – a refrigerator and a washer-dryer.  The small refrigerator was on top. Below there was a wall-mounted front-loading washer, which also became, with the push of a button, a dryer. Isn’t that wild?!  I have a really hard time with the symbols on the various buttons that are supposed to be universally intelligible. So there was probably an inordinate amount of time spent on a short visit to Paris using trial and error in order to do a couple loads of laundry, but then again, it was a unique experience and some insight into daily life of the locals in the City of Lights. Sure, we have our granite countertops and stainless steel refrigerators the size of guest rooms, but I’ve never seen a washer that is also a dryer. Those Parisians are wicked cool!

Our flat was a block away from a market street where there were produce vendors, butchers, fishmongers, wine merchants, bread and pastry shops and maybe all of the 365 different French cheeses!  There were walls of chickens on rotisseries with new potatoes below, roasting while being basted by the dripping fat. Food-inspired travel is what we are about, remember, and this was going to be heaven.  So, on the morning of our arrival, the other three went off so Dianne could see Notre Dame Cathedral, and I headed up the street to Rue Mouffetard and started making friends and learning the local ways.

 

To be continued…

 

Forget about microwave dinners. Rotisseries all over the city make convenience food très bon!

 

Sunday mornings are hopping on our market street.

 

 

In 1900 a train station, today the Musee D’Orsay houses the largest collection of Impressionist artwork in the world.

 

The first selfie?

Tourists aren’t the only ones who take selfies at the Louvre.

 

The beautiful 13th century stained glass of Sainte-Chapelle is truly breathtaking.