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The Best Baguette

photo: rainy sunday night
In November it only rains on Sundays.

Sorry for the Inconvenience

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 1. December 2003:- Guess what? It rained again yesterday, on Sunday. There were five Sundays in November and I think it poured rain all day on three on them. It rained on other days too, but never enough to be called serious rain. There has been, and will be, some very serious rain in other parts of France. But Paris seems to be spared, except for some Sundays.

At the moment, according to the TV-weather news, we are supposed to expect two days of partly sunny days. The partly cloudy part might be on Wednesday morning or at night. Forphoto: fountain st sulpice some reason, Thursday was omitted, so I caught the tail-end of the TV-weather news on another channel, and it looked like Thursday will be the same.

Temperatures are expected to be three to one degrees higher than predicted by this morning's Le Parisien, which called for 8, 8, and 9 degrees. I am pretty confident that this represents as accurate a forecast as one can concoct from one newspaper and two TV-channels, plus looking out of a window.

Other days in November are nice.

By the professionals, the wind-chill factor is often overlooked. Despite Sunday's rain, its wind-chill factor was low - compared to the days that preceded it, and possibly compared to the coming days. My advice - do not sit near doors or windows for long periods of time. If outside, give doors and windows a wide berth.

Café Life

Metropole Paris, Inc. - Sorry for the Inconvenience

Now that I have sat in front of my computer's monitor for another week - time enough to write 'War and Peace,' all of its sequels, and the made-for-TV mini-series, plus the original French encylopedia - I think I can say the 'reconstruction' of Metropole may be near an end, for this year.

This totally boring enterprise took so much time that there was none - well, hardly any - left over for 'Café Life.' The hardship was such that there was only time for two five-hour dinners, one of which wasphoto: fake snowman Thanksgiving. All I wish to say about these is that I ate a half-dozen vegetables that I've never seen before.

At the fruit and veg shop on Daguerre there was even one that the vendors had never heard of. It was a rooty thing, looking something like ginger, and the lady could only say she thought it might have been popular during the war. Which war she didn't say.

This season's first fake snowman.

If she did say, it is lost in the computer code mists of time. Fog. It is all fog now.

My fear that doing the fix-up code would 'affect' editorial production has been borne out. Paris has been merrily spinning on its axle without my being able to capture even a little bit of it.

But there's Laurel Avery to the rescue. Although she went to the United States for her Thanksgiving dinner, she sent an email saying I should take a photo of an empty refrigerator box abandoned on my street to go with her 'Paris Life No. 27' - which would have been 'No. 9' if she had been sending them before 'No. 10.'

Almost needless to say, by the time I got the email the refrigerator box had been swooped up by a city crew or by a needy person seeking a roomy apartment. That is, as we say here in Paris, 'Paris Life.'

The Best Baguette

According to a New York Times story published on Saturday, Dr. Steven Kaplan, a professor at Cornell University - who grew up in Brooklyn and Queens - is the world's leading expert on good French bread.

This distinction is based on sampling the wares of 600 Paris bakeries, plus writing a 740-page bookphoto: real baguette about what he learned, titled 'Le Meilleur Pain du Monde: Les Boulangers de Paris au XVIIIe Siécle.' This was published by Fayard in 1996.

Maybe not the 'best' baguette, but tasty.

Since then Dr. Kaplan has written a sequel, published in 2002, titled 'The Return of Good Bread.' This is the story of what some bakers did after reading the first book - in French - and taking it to heart.

For those who miss the 1950's version of 'wonderbread' in the form of a baguette, there are still plenty of sources of it. However, part of the thrill of Paris is finding things, so I'll let you look for it yourself.

In our modern times it is again possible to find bread - baguettes, the boule and the bâtard, that don't taste insipid. Dough is given a whole night to ferment in depth, and bakers are given a whole night to sleep.

For his relentless 20 years of research, and services allowing French bakers to sleep with their wives at night, Dr. Kaplan has been awarded the grade of 'Chevalier' twice by the French government. This is pretty good for a guy who grew up eating 'kornbrot' in Queens.

Rooms to Let Online - 50¢ Etc, Again

Another huge heave-ho of effort has put Metropole's Lodging page online in time for this issue. Nobody seemed to believe this would ever get done - myself included. To make it look 'real' there are a variety of real lodging offers on it already.

This is likely to be a high-traffic page. Listing your apartment or house for rent on it will have a good chance of getting the results you want. Don't think about all the extra work this will be for me - think of it as a way to fill your rooms and make 'Ed' into a tycoon.

Unlike Metropole Paris and the Café Metropole Club, listing your property in Metropole is not 'free.' Rates for listing your apartment will be reasonable - especially considering that your announcement will be seen by many people 'just like you' - perhaps other club members who you have already met at club meetings. If you have a Web site for your apartment, your listing in Metropole will link to it.

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