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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.

Write today to enquire about details. The exact conditions have not been fixed yet, but they have advanced beyond zero. Your suggestions will be welcome too.

Metropole As 'Shareware'

Recently I suggested that readers and club members voluntarily pay a 'shareware fee.' The 'idea' is, if you value Metropole, then you might be able to contribute according to its worth to you, and to ensure that its publication continues.

You are not expected to 'donate' anything to 'Ed.' The 'share-magazine-ware fee' is not for a subscription with a secret-code access to a special part of the magazine either. Metropole remains a single-versionphoto: horse meat butcher magazine with unlimited access for all. The Café Metropole Club remains just as free as it's always been.

'Keeping Metropole flying' is simple. You can send your contributions today by hitting this link to the 'support Metropole' page.

Shoppers getting food to ward off chills.

Metropole's 'support' page will link you to 'Kagi' - Metropole's 'software retailer.' When you get Kagi's Metropole page, insert any amount you feel like contributing. The rest of the procedure is like buying anything else via the Internet. But with one difference - you can voluntarily contribute any amount you feel comfortable with. Whatever it is, you'll get 'Ed's 'thanks' in a return email.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Pop this link to have a look at last week's 'Reunion(s)' club 'report.' Many members tried some more Beaujolais Nouveau, at least once. There were several reunions too, some of them believeable.

Some insignificant details concerning the club can all be found on the 'About the Club' page. The tattered but new club membership card shown on this page is free, so long as you print it yourself. The card is valid for your lifetime worldwide, but ultra-valid in Paris.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 4. December. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte-Barbara, which is spelled the same in English except for the 'e.' My saint's book has no Barbara, but the other part of the name book has 'Barbares,' which was a Greek word for everybody who wasn't Greek - or civilized. When the Romans took over the world, the Francs became the 'Barbares.'

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 7.49 - 2. Dec 2002 - The issue began calmly enough with the Café Metropole column's 'Metropole, 'On Strike!' 'The A 'Café Life' column mentioned 'Dimitri's First Car.' The issue's feature was titled 'Reds In My Street Wasn't In the Brochure.' Yet more fine 'Wine News' was headlined, 'Allan Is Not On Strike.' The Scene, Noël 2002 and 'Mois de la Photo' columns were re-runs. The club's update on 5. December was titledphoto: sign, rue auguste mie as the "Rock of Cashel Set On Fire" report. There were six amazingly new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon was captioned, "Ever Wonder About Retiring?"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 6.49 - 3. Dec 2001 - The Café Metropole column's headline was '150 Horses, 'Not Found' for some reason. The 'Au Bistro' column would have reported 'd' On Strike' because it didn't appear. The week's feature was titled, 'About the Club Meeting In New York.' This was some weeks before it happened. The Scene column was titled, 'One-Night Stand, Once.' The club's update on 6. December was headlined as the'Prague of the Week' report. There were another four more new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon was captioned, "I Had a Dream..." I must have been sleeping.

The Anthropological Version of the Countdowns

Historians can find the last known regular version of this obscure and sadly neglected feature by turning to the last Café page with it, and subtract about 42 days from all numbers except the anniversary dates. These have probably expired. Every item in this feature has probably expired. It is what comes from doing too much 'sorry for the inconvenience' work.

Jacques' Birthday

France's Président Jacques Chirac celebrated his 71st birthday on Saturday with a headline on the front page of Le Parisien. It said, "Santé, Président."photo: sign, enneigeur The type was so big there was no space for 'Monsieur' or an exclamation mark. The day's other big front-page news was the arrival of snow, just in time to remind all shoppers that new ski equipment takes precedence over Christmas gifts this year.

Almost No Days Left

The number of days left this year is only 30 - far, far, far, far less than the '37-left' last week. Vastly sooner than we expect we'll be squeezed elbow to elbow standing in front of cheerily freezing department store windows gaily illuminated for Christmas. In fact, we can do this now. The only thing lacking is the absolute 'freezing' and maybe a tiny bit of 'cheerily.'

In another rapid blink of an eye we'll be able to skate on a frozen rink in front of the Hôtel de Ville, or the one in front of the Gare Montparnasse, which is so close to here that I need to wear wool - not 'woll' - socks while attempting to write this.
signature, regards, ric

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