Bon Anniversaire Dimitri!

photo: cafe la charrette

If you have rain the face you can step out of it by
stepping in here.

Muck Soup - True or False?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 11. November 2002:- This morning's weather has defied my most recent predictions by being nearly very nice for the 11:00 ceremony at the Etoile, sparing the Président - who never wears a hat - the need for an umbrella.

This has been a rare and pleasant intermission between waves of whole oceans-worth of stormy skies from the Atlantic. According to last night's TV-weather news - for which France-2 used a substitute weather-guy - the Atlantic's November treats will be back for the rest of the week, including next weekend.

It won't be terribly cold though, unless you are above 2000 metres in the Alps, where it might bephoto: rain denfert snowing. The highest ski stations opened a few weeks ago. I presume some Parisians went to them during the Toussaint thing - just to make sure they wouldn't need to worry about 'green-skiing' at Christmas.

One of Paris' playgrounds for ducks.

Tonight's weather forecast is not nearly as pessimistic as last night's, but doesn't extend beyond Friday so it isn't overly optimistic either. I wish they hadn't changed it - it was easier to remember that skies were solidly covered by somber clouds from Wednesday to Sunday, rather than just on Thursday.

Café Life

Fête d'Dimitri

This sprung up quite suddenly, possibly because Dimitri is in the dumps these days. Without my knowing the details, I accidently learned that Dimitri should have a birthday party for a change this year, and he should make blinis for it.

This might have been Dennis' idea because Dimitri had said he hadn't made any blinis for the past seven years. Presumably making some is something one might tend to do during a low period, but this wasn't explained clearly to me.

On a dark and stormy night - ah, it was dark and wet, but not really stormy - last Tuesday, we Daguerreotypes gathered at Dennis' near-penthouse apartment nearby, up five full floors of highly polished wooden stairs. What goes up easily - at least to the third floor - better be careful coming down.

For this fête the dinning table seemed even more overloaded than for past occasions. A lot of pure French goodies were augmented by reasonable facsimiles of Imperial Russian treats, over and above the vodka with the buffalo grass in it and the various standby vodkas.

What it all was exactly was a bit hard to say, because tradition also dictated that illumination was low - sort like a midnight dinner at the Kremlin but without the roaring fireplace, and without Uncle Joe of course.

I found Dimitri in the minuscule kitchen using a crêpes platter to make little blinis. He said he has been doing it all day, but he meant it had taken all day to make the batter with its two different kinds of flour and the whole juggle-act with the eggs, and I don't remember the rest.

It was not easy to serve ten people hot blinis in the near dark. It was not easy to put the right stuff onphoto: sparklers dimitris birthday them either because whatever it was, was hard to see, and nobody knew what it was. I remember big pickles and rollmops, but these didn't go on the blinis. I had all sorts of stuff on my blinis and I still don't know if it was kosher of not.

Hand-held, sparker-light photo of the fête.

After the first 90-minute rush of it all, the guests shoved back a bit and commenced with the birthday business. Unpracticed as he was, Dimitri handled this with reserve and admirable grace - considering how much vodka and wine was getting consumed.

Tante Line, who is our personal expert for lore of the 14th, France, and every broken-down and impoverished third world country in the world, decided to sing real two French versions of 'happy birthday.'

She did this with a strong and musical voice, in the style of 'from the barricades.' Here are the first stanzas of both:-

"Bon anniversaire,
Nos voeux les plus sincères
Que ces quelques fleurs
Vous apportent le bonheur
Que l'année entière
Vous soit douce et légère
Que l'an fini nous soyons réunis "

Chorus -
"Bon Anniversaire
Bon Anniversaire
Bon Anniversaire
Bon Anniversaire!"

And, number two -
"En ce joyeux anniversaire
Nous te disons notre amitié
Si tu n'étais sur cette terre
Le monde serait inentier
Nous te disons notre amitié"

We applauded this unexpectedly hearty performance heartily, and then several kilos of cheese was served. Some of it was so runny everybody looked for spoons, but there never are any because soup and café are never part of these fêtes.

Ambiance music was provided by a French group called something like the 'shipwrecked of the future.' They only play old acoustical instruments and their songs all sound like they might have been popular in the '20s and '30s, when ordinary folks did a lot of dancing because it was cheap fun.

At one point I turned my back and when I turned around everybody magically had a lit sparkler in hand. Some had one in each. This provided nearly enough light for the evening's only photos, so I took a chance on it.

Around midnight we all, except Dennis, got down the stairs by being slow and careful. I haven't seen Dennis since then. I wonder if he ate all the pickles and cheeses. I'm pretty sure all the rollmops got slurped up.

Note:- Besides singing and cooking, Tante Line also paints and some of her seascapes are on view from Friday, 15 November until Wednesday, 11. December at the restaurant 'Vin des Rues.' The vernissage is set for Thursday, 28. November, at 18:30. At 21. Rue Boulard, Paris 14. Métro: Denfert-Rochereau.

She writes a PS - "If you get seasick, you can also navigate by some of my paintings at the Restaurant 38, 38. Avenue de Suffren, Paris 15. 'Jusqu'au 31 décembre,'" in O-ton. Métro: Dupleix.

Odd Monday

Besides goodly blue skies, this has been an odd Monday. Most of the neighborhood shops are closed, asusual. But I when I try to have my eye-opening café at Le Bouquet, I find it closed. 'Hmm,' I wonder, worrying, 'maybe somebody died.'

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