'Café Life' - Part 89

photo: tuileries, concorde, wheel, tour eiffel

This fresh-air 'Paris Life' photo is a substitute for a smoky 'Café Life' photo.

The Buffalo Grass Birthday Party

Paris:- Saturday, 17. November 2001:- This doesn't begin last Wednesday when Crocodile Nigel made a brief stopover between Ibiza and his next stopover in Washington, before getting back to homebase in Oz - where it is nearly summer now.

This stopover was so brief that the only thing we had time to do was visit the Bricolo Café in the basement of the BHV department store. I recommend this café to all do-it-yourselfers who prefer getting somebody else to do it.

Actually the Bricolo Café looks like an authentic dump of a place rather than some designer's ideaphoto: interior, bricolo cafe, bhv of an authentic dump. It really is made out of old junk. Being in a basement, the only thing it lacks is a front porch with some rocking chairs to sit in while whittling toothpicks out of Spruce trees.

The authentic junk interior of the BHV's Bricolo Café.

Since we had already had a sandwich at some underground sandwich bar in a tunnel somewhere between the métro and the department store's basement, we didn't bother to have a café, or hang around to see the demo of the 'protection fleur en fleur' that was scheduled at 16:00.

We didn't stay until Saturday to see the demo of 'alarms sans fil' either. We went and looked at the Hungarian paintings that are on show in the Hôtel de Ville's Salle Saint-Jean instead.

After Thursday's club meeting, Nigel got invited to go to an authentic Parisian 'vernissage.' He never heard the word before, but he went willingly enough.

When he came back he said the Beaujolais Nouveau - Thursday was worldwide Beaujolais Nouveau day - didn't taste like bananas. Everybody who has tried this year's version says this, and everybody who hasn't, says it does.

I sniffed some, and to me this year's Beaujolais Nouveau doesn't smell like bananas. Actually, sniffing it made me wonder what bananas do smell like, and I couldn't remember. The long and short of it is, Nigel didn't stay around for Dimitri's birthday to try the vodka with the Buffalo grass in it.

For readers who may not know what this is about, let me sum up what has already happened. Two issues ago it started out with,

The Buffalo Grass Is Coming!

In order for Dimitri to have a proper birthday, Dennis got it into his head to get Oleg in Kiev to send some authentic Buffalo grass to put into vodka, to be consumed at Dimitri's birthday party.

The idea began a long time ago. When Tante Line went to New York in early September, she looked all over in four out of five of its boroughs for Buffalo grass, but couldn't find any.

So Dennis then asked Oleg in Kiev to send some to Paris. If there's anyplace in the world that should have lots of Buffalo grass all over the place, it is the Ukraine.

Instead of just walking 500 metres out of town and picking up any old weeds by the roadside, Oleg passed the job onto his niece. Being of a younger generation, she went to a pharmacy to ask for some.

What she got she gave to Oleg, and he gave it back and asked her to bring it to Paris, where she wasphoto: dimitri testing dennis fireplace coming anyway. Then nothing happened for two weeks until Dennis got worried and phoned Oleg, who said the Buffalo grass was already in Paris.

Dimitri checks Dennis' fireplace to find out if it is good for burning newspapers.

Then Dennis staged a major unwrap in the café Le Bouquet, only to find it contained two boxes of herbal tea. Dimitri ran across the street to ask a lady there if maybe this tea was Buffalo grass in disguise, but no, it wasn't.

Meanwhile, Dimitri's birthday is long past, and here we are with no Buffalo grass. Dimitri even says he brought his own supply to Paris 20 years ago, but he used it up. He said, "You put in six of seven blades of grass, leave it for a week, and then take out five of six. One is left in for show."

Last Friday Dennis had a long grocery list for the ingredients for Saturday's party - which they had decided to proceed with, Buffalo grass or no Buffalo grass - so that it would be over before Dimitri's next birthday.

Buffalo Grass - the Party Part

This began on Saturday, with two people of different genders having the same name. Considering that this was to be sort of a Russian birthday party, this wasn't all that unusual even though neither of these people were Russian.

When Dimitri arrived the first thing he did was scrunch up some newspapers and set them on fire in Dennis' fireplace, to see if it worked. Some smoke went up the chimney, so I guess it half-worked. Dimitri said the fireplace apparatus lacked some vital pieces.

Then he unwrapped some Buffalo grass he had been conserving since the Revolution. These were so old they smelled more like the paper they were wrapped in than Buffalo grass - so nobody but Dimitri even knows what Buffalo grass smells like.

Dennis, not to be deterred by minor setbacks, even put some of the Ukrainian tea into some Russian vodka - just to make sure it wasn't Buffalo grass. He had to use a café filtre to get rid of it. He said it didn't even taste like tea.

He put some lemon into another vodka, because he prefers it better. The third vodka was the Polish brand, with a buffalo on the label and one blade of grass in it. All three of these bottles were kept in the freezer.

Without much ceremony, all three bottles were produced, along with frozen shot glasses. The first problem occurred with one of the Russian vodkas, which seemed to have frozen.

When vodka freezes there can be two reasons for it. It is either very far below zero, or the vodka doesn't have quite enough of the right stuff in it. In this case, it was reason number two. After it warmed up a bit, the vodka dribbled out of it like liquid silly putty.

The hosts, the guest of honor and the other guests had made fair inroads to this collection by the time the final guests arrived, which was exactly the right time to serve the food.

All I can say about this is that Dennis runs a neat kitchen and knows how to use it. We ate for a long time, made longer by many pauses for more vodka, refreezing the glasses, and opening many bottles of wines. Thephoto: vodka with ukranian tealeaves Beaujolais Nouveau brought by one guest did not taste like bananas either, according to everybody who tried it.

When the birthday cake came Dimitri obligingly took a big hit of vodka to see if he could do the flamethrower trick, but did not manage to even blow the candles out. One fell over though.

The Russian vodka that had had the real Ukranian herb tea in it, after it didn't have it anymore.

Most of the rest of the party was concerned with cleaning up the leftovers by either eating or drinking them. Most of the music played was 1920's-style rock, which was much appreciated for its lyrics.

When Dimitri tried to leave the first time, Dennis said it wasn't allowed because there was lots of vodka still to drink. Everybody pitched into it with a will, so that Dimitri could leave early.

If one gave ratings to birthday parties, I would have rated this one pretty high. We only sang 'Happy Birthday' once, there were no funny hats, and nobody even asked Dimitri which of his birthdays was being celebrated.

No. It was all fine. Not mawkish at all. It was over when it was over and all we had to do was get down five flights of highly-waxed, uncarpeted wooden stairs, and figure out which buttons to push for the lights and which to push to make the door open.

For the last one down - slow on account of taking extreme care - the light was out by the time the door was reached, so the open-the-door buzzer was unfindable.

Outside in the early morning street, I was very surprised by the bright streetlights. I guess these are why Paris is called the 'City of Light' and not the 'City of Buffalo Grass.'

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini