Real Farmers Become Real Members

photo: judging ring, salon de l'agriculture

Another meeting; going on at Paris-Expo yesterday.

Theme of the Week: 'Lots of Good Food!'

Paris:- Thursday, 2. March 2000:- The other day, while eating breakfast and not listening to radio France-Info's report about the 'life of plants' - which is reported like the crucial stage of a horse race - I got a brilliant idea for a new feature to add to Metropole.

That was the other day. Today I remember I've forgotten it when is too late to do it. Darn! I am preoccupied with Paris' current beautiful cow and good food show.

Your club has a relationship to this because some 'virtual' members are farmers, and they are likely to turn up at the club meeting today. Paris is full of farmers and good food fans and their groupies.

A 'real' charter club member has suggested I think up an agenda - ofphoto: chantal about 10 Paris topics - before each meeting. But just getting to the weekly meeting and being the club's half-baked secretary has already got me beyond my level of competence.

All the same, I have three topics for the farmers - because 'good food' is on everybody's minds these days. This is how I forget the other idea.

New charter member Chantal Leygonie says she likes walking in Paris.

Allan has arrived before me. He tells me about how to be a club member - of other clubs - without actually attending any meetings. After 58 minutes, I note but do not write down that we are the only members present. This doesn't look good.

At 59 minutes into today's meeting the situation changes radically with the arrival of Kathleen and Chantal Leygonie. This is also when Patrick the club's waiter remembers he's forgotten to bring Allan a Bière de Mars - which is another grand feature of Paris that pops up around the time of the Salon de l'Agriculture.

Chantal is a Parisian. She was mentioned in Metropole before the club started - on the night when the statue of Liberty was re-illuminated after returning to Paris following a long holiday in Tokyo Bay. Chantal's husband did the laser light work on that job, and Kathleen is a laser-lady too.

We are getting cozy with all the drinks in place when there is a bit of an uproar in the café, caused by the arrival of the farmers.

They have been by the café before today, so the patron is pretty excited that these guys - thesephoto: edgar farmers from Canada! - have come back - to the Café Metropole Club, which is having its meeting in the rear of his café. They must have made a big impression the first time they came through.

Actually, Edgar Ladouceur, is a long-time Metropole reader and frequent correspondent, who lives in Spencerville, Ontario - and he's been warning me about becoming a 'real' charter member for some time.

Edgar Ladouceur switched from 'virtual' to 'real' at today's club meeting.

With him are Robert Passmore, a real 'bio' farmer from St. Marys, also in Ontario; and Edgar's brother-in-law, Guillaume 'Bill' Richardson, who is also a farmer, from someplace in Miami, Florida, instead of Canada.

They had pâté for lunch, which went into overtime, and before that, they had cassoulet. For the uninitiated, cassoulet is a dish from the south of France, of which Heinz' 57 varieties of wieners and beans is a ghost of a replica.

Cassoulet is often distributed in large cans or sealed glass pots, but since it contains mutton, pork, goose and other heavy-duty ingredients, it makes the Heinz' version seem like tasteless diet wafers.

Why, I want to know, do farmers fly across the Atlantic to Paris for the Salon de l'Agriculture?

"For good food" they say in unison, adding, "Extremely top-quality products."

Oddly, none of the trio have heard of José 'Good Food' Bové and the Peasant's Confederation. But they are surfing on the same wave-length. They mention the oysterphoto: robert competition. They mention the five-year-old Calvados they discovered in Normandy.

They also mention some five-minute-old distilled prune soup straight out of a travelling still that rattled their socks. "Armangnac is better because its grapes grow closer to the ground!"

They mention pizza, they mention wine bars; they want more restaurant information from Metropole - they want me to test-drive every eating hole in Paris.

Robert Passmore also mentions foie gras, rabbit and Calvados-style lamb.

Gradually it begins to occur to me that the Salon de l'Agriculture is only held once a year, because thousands of 747s are flying farmers into France and they are pouncing on its foodstuffs like locusts.

The way we are set up, without an agenda or seating plan, we are spread out too much for a group photo - and too much so for Allan to say anything about his adventures in the Champagne line of things, or for Chantal and Kathleen to tell any tales of the Paris markets.

And I, of course, can not say anything about Dr. Leslie's Glasgow specialty, deep-fried Mars bars. But so what?

The club has picked up four new members today, three ofphoto: bill whom are going to have to declare themselves as overweight luggage when they fly back to start crossing off calendar-days until next year's salon.

In La Corona, there is no 'Food of the Week' consumed and the only special 'Drink of the Week' would be the bière de Mars, except that Allan doesn't put it up for this distinction. I've had 'Mars beer' in Munich and didn't care much for it.

Miami farmer, Guillaume 'Bill' Richardson, also becomes a charter member today.

To me it seems too soon, but to Edgar, Bill and Robert it must seem that they have paused long enough to be hungry again, so they head off in great haste in order not the waste a minute of quality food time.

They leave La Corona by the door closest to the wine bar, the Henri IV, on the Pont Neuf - no doubt to try some more of its white sancerre, fully convinced that as good as the red version is, the white is tops.

Somehow the farmers have impressed La Corona's patron of the success of the Internet in drawing members to the little club that holds its weekly meetings in his café.

The other members who have walked into the 20 previous meetings of the Café Metropole Club have been no less impressive to me.

If you plan to come to a future meeting, be sure to come by a few days early and ask for the club at the bar. Remember? It is pronounced 'cloob.' Do not whisper it.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Thursday, 9. March 2000 is the date for the club's next 'real' meeting. If it is Thursdayphoto: biere de mars, club drink suze and you are in Paris, you can say "It must be Café Metropole Club day!"

The café La Corona meeting place will be as open as usual next Thursday, so the time for your club's meeting remains from 15:00 to 17:00 - which is also known as 3 pm to 5 pm in certain unmetric time zones.

Come as you are, especially if you are in Paris. If you cannot be present, you can read the regular Monday page for your club news instead. Instead of PR, it now features an account of last week's meeting, plus whatever new business there may be. The café's location is:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral Coligny
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli or Pont-Neuf

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini