"It Might Have Been In
British English"

photo: cafe la corona terrace

Café terrassians enjoying summer version of Paris
driving skills.

Or It Might Have Simply Been 'Lardoons'

Paris:- Thursday, 15. August 2002:- If the last meeting report two weeks ago began with the remark that it was the 'middle of summer,' it was slightly erroneous. Today is the exact dead-centre of summer, what with it being the 15th of August and a nice, warm day too.

Some might say being 30 degrees or a bit over is hotter than merely warm, but I am giving it the lesser characteristic because it needs to be added to August's average - which will be lucky to better April's.

Plus it is a holiday, plus the government and a lot of Parisians are out of town, plus a real lot of shops and other stuff are closed - my 14th arrondissement looks like ghost town - so the few millions of people who are still around, are around Paris' beach, which means on the quays overlooking it and the café terraces behind it.

Luckily the métro is still running and brings me down here to the centre of the city to see signs of human life again. It seems, even if the beach itself is not a big money-maker, that the bouquinistes along the quays must be having much more pass-by traffic than usual.

Oh, it all seems so much more - um, Parisian. Just like you might imagine it. Instead of narrowingphoto: full bottles your focus to exclude the normally empty spaces, you can look anywhere and it looks like it is stuffed with visitors - with their cameras, baseball caps, sunglasses, short pants and the various sorts of sacks even Parisians need for carrying their water these days.

'Drink of the Week' turns out to be an assortment of waters.

In case I am overdoing this, just remember I'm excited because it is such a contrast with the 'deepest 14th,' where the sun is also blazing merrily away, and the few open café terraces are littered with dazed snoozers.

But I usually start these 'reports' with the weather outlook, so here it is. Today matches the two-day heatwave of July, and like that one, goes downhill from here.

If you want to catch 'Paris Plage' in its best form, do not wait until closing day this coming Sunday. Get to it tomorrow or Saturday if you want a memory of it worth remembering. Around sundown might be a good time to do it.

The club's café La Corona has a nearly full terrace when I arrive and a huge clot of ice cream fanciers are milling around in its bar area, while waiters hustle adroitly about them with trays full of drink, never spilling a drop.

The café's 'grande salle' is just emptying out its luncheon clients and some clever soul has actually opened some of its windows, leaving a club table right beside one. It is the first time the club's table has been nearly on the terrace - and since it is mid-August, the quay's traffic is thinner and quieter than usual, and carefree visitors are skipping across it in reckless abandon.

For a rare once then, it is like what you might imagine Paris to be like in summer. It is so good I can't imagine any members bothering to turn up for today's meeting. But members are unaccountably loyal or something, and I'm wrong.

Member Dinny Moyer appears at 15:10 with to-be member Ramona Femenias, who is from Arlington, Virginia. They went to Washington-Lee High School together - oh, not all that long ago.

Arlington has either been featured as the 'City of the Week' before, or I think it has been because so many members have claimed it as their hometown - so, without chancing a repeat, I suggest that Washington-Lee be recorded as the 'High School of the Week' instead.

Talk quickly glides around to the 'Hammurabi Code' after we have ordered a considerable amount of water. I think - my notes are never clear after all - that Ramona has been impressed with this 'oldest law' because she saw it in the Louvre, cast in basalt or something.

Most other laws written on paper around 1800 BC are no longer with us, so Hammurabi wins the prize for his. But he isn't a club member so his 'law' is not a 'first' - mainly because the club's only rule is 'no rules' and Ramona couldn't read Babylonian.

Just as well, because talk shifts to 'concept stores.' One in the Rue Saint-Honoré named 'Colette' is described to me as having a lot of designer water, more security gorillas than clients, and an item described by both Ramona and Dinny as 'giraffe pants.'

Apparently these are quite fashionable if you happen to have thin legs as long as a giraffe's. Otherwise, they say, this 'concept store' has nothing else for sale.

Readers and members should realize by now that I believe everything that members tell me,photo: dinny, ramona but don't necessarily think everything is true. This said, I did visit a water shop in the same street once - actually, it might have been the same place now that I think of it.

Even Paris' water is intoxicating for Dinny and Ramona - or was it the 'lardoons?'

I was impressed that there was a wide selection of waters available and you could order any kind you wanted so long as you were willing to pay five bucks a glass for it. I don't remember the 'giraffe pants' though. These could be this year's 'new thing.'

The highlight of today's meeting is learning what grits are. For a reason unknown to me I have always assumed grits were barley rendered into hard grains about the size of caviar, but somewhat less tasty.

"I like it for breakfast with a fried egg on top," Ramona says. "Or with red-eye gravy," she adds.

While the 'red-eye gravy' might not be for the breakfast version, neither lady can tell me what 'red-eye gravy' is exactly.

Dinny explains that grits are polenta, but "Not bleached," she says. I think, if I ever have grits I hope it - or is it they? - will not be bleached. I also think that if anybody ever offers me polenta for breakfast, I'll get out of it by saying I prefer grits. And cross my fingers there are none in the larder.

The 'Question of the Week' also concerns food. "What are," Ramona wants to know, "Lardons?"

She is curious about this French delicacy because she saw them mentioned on a menu, with the translation in English, as 'lardoons.'

"It might have been in British English," she says.

Yesssss, it may possibly have been. Goodness knows 'British English' can be quaint, with all of its borrowings from French since 1066 when the Normans went there in the mistaken belief that the climate was more clement than in Normandy.

Together Dinny and I try to explain what lardons are. I say they are bacon cubes - but Dinny thinks they are one of several different kinds of ham that I have never heard of. She might be right, but I still think they are bacon.

But maybe not. If you see French 'bacon' on a marché, from the price alone you would swear it must be some ham-based form of caviar, with a fat content appearing to be zero.

Anyway, I guess it is safe enough to propose lardons as the 'Food of the Week' even if we eatphoto: empty bottles nothing but water today. Getting all of this out, plus the subjects too boring to mention because I took no notes about them, takes until 30 minutes after the club meeting officially ends.

Afterwards, I show Ramona and Dinny how to use the crosswalk to get to the other side of the Quai du Louvre safely, so they can view the beach for the first time in their whole lives.

To prove we were not kidding you - all of the empty waters.

Luckily this is in a spot where some dime-sized spots of sand can be seen in the distance, so the reputation of 'Paris Plage' remains intact. Yes, readers and members, your very own clubhouse is within 30 metres of Paris' only 'beach' - 24 metres across the quay and six metres down, beside the edge of the Seine.

The Next Club Meeting

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 22. August. This will be a perfectly normal 34th Thursday in the year 2002 - with the day being named Saint-Fabrice, just like every other 22. August.

The never-changing paragraph which used to be here, is not a repeat of another paragraph above this week. nor is it a repeat of its own former self. Frankly, this is plain filler.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

To learn how to become a member you can look over the page called 'About the Café Metropole Club.' If you are reading this 'report' of today's club meeting, 'how-to-become-a-member' may not be perfectly clear.

'Club rules,' if any were still active - and none are - would suggest that if you feel like giving this 'About' page a pass - do so. All you really need to know is that you can become a member of this online magazine's live, free and real club in a wink by simply being at a meeting. Since this is all there is to it, I guess you can skip the 'About' page after all.

The Standard Details Concerning Meetings

Club meetings begin in Paris no sooner than 15:00 on Thursday and continue until 17:00, stillphoto: paris plage on Thursday, in Europe's Central European Time Zone - which is 'CET' for short and not 'ECETZ' - and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in worldwide areas without 24-whole-hour clocks.

Besides grass and real sand, 'Paris Plage' even features a token strip of real pebble beach - just like the Riviera.

The club's secretary will be listening to what you may say at the same time as he may be trying to concoct some 'report' notes, which might be completely different from anything your hear at a meeting. Please note your name, hometown, and your own email address in the members' booklet. The club's secretary is often incapable of remembering to ask you to do it.

Come equipped with a new 'Quote of the Week' or propose your hometown as 'City of the Week' - the secretary can't do this - or dream up any other 'Things of the Week.' 'No-names' is an option you can opt for too if you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet. Otherwise and in general, the only exception is 'no rules.'

Some things you say may be considered with due respect and will be appreciated by the other members present, if there are any and they are listening - and by all readers of this online magazine, if they read them - if they chance to be written here.

The café's location is:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny - or - 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli, Pont-Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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