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Italian Week

photo, place dauphine, restaurants

The Place Dauphine in the centre of Paris.

Dinner at Eight for Eight

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 13. September 2004:– Last week some residents were calling it 'Indian Summer.' Then on Saturday evening the eggshell broke and the yoke poured out like it was hard boiled – clunk, thunk, splash!

Le Parisien says no matter how much of an optimist you are, this is autumn now. It seems like, feels like it. But it is not very cold even if there are winds gusting from the southwest, while waves of clouds full of rain descend from the region of the Channel.

Pretty much the same thing is predicted for Tuesday. Winds from the southwest, clouds by the Channel, horrible weather to the southeast and here in a diagonal middle, maybe more sunny periods than not. Plus it will be cooler, with a forecast high of 21 degrees.

Wednesday might be calmer, with partly cloudy and mostly sunny, but the thermometre won't get a degree above 20. Even more calm has been forecast by the TV–weather news for Thursday, with the sky expected to be mostly sunny all day. Even the temperature gets a minor boost to a predicted high of 20 degrees.

Way long–range, way out to the future of next Friday, the trend may continue with clear and dry weather, and possibly a hike for warmth. But truly, Friday is so far out in the future that all scenarios are possible – even a return of 'Indian Summer' can't be excluded.

Café Life

Ne Ratez Plus Votre Photo!

Kodak announced last week that it will shut down about half of its capacity in France. The French have fallen head over heels in love with 'le numérique,' as digital photography is called here.

In the olden days September used to be a boom time for the photo–finishers as all the precious holidayphoto, place dauphine photos had to be printed, and quickly. What fun it used to be going to the photo shop and getting the heavy packets of fresh photos! What dismay there used to be, to see that perfect sunset underexposed!

In the Place Dauphine.

This is no more. With digital you can look in the tiny window at what you've just shot, and if it isn't right you can erase it and shoot again so long as the batteries hold out. In theory, no more mucked up photos.

But there's worse for Kodak and the other photo–finishers. Even though everybody with a digital camera does not have a computer, only 7% bother getting prints made of their digital photos. And in France, five out of six new cameras now sold are digital.

Kodak isn't going to disappear because it still makes films for cinema and x–rays, and classic camera film, but its cash–cow was photo–finishing. Kodak even sells its own branded digital cameras, so it can't say it's not in the game.

One photo–finisher here offers a Nikon digital camera for 1€. All you have to do to walk out with it is agree to have 1500 prints made over a period of two years. This translates into a monthly cost of 39.90€, or 950€ over two years. Over the last year this outlet has tripled the prints it makes from memory cards.

How foolish it was of me to think that I was saving trees with my digital camera. Saving money maybe, but where are my prints?

Dinner at Eight for Eight

Uncle Den–Den is a pretty good cook and if he invites me for dinner I will immediately drop what I'm doing and run over there and risk my life going up the five flights of stairs polished mirror–bright.

On Saturday I was doing this carefully when I realized I was gradually catching up to somebody else, who turned out to be another guest hauling a bunch of wine. On the fifth landing we were wheezing so hard I could hardly push the doorbell.

But then the surprise – uncle Den–Den wasn't cooking. It was one of the guests, who is a cook, who cooked in his own restaurants in New York and Santa Fe. And, from what I heard, he'd been cooking for three hours in uncle Den–Den's five square metres of kitchen.

So we sat around, us non–cooks, and waited for other guests to arrive and for the food. The olives and the music were good, and the wait wasn't long. The first item to appear was eggplant rollatini. It was delicious, but it was professional and kind of small. Six of them would have been fine.

The next dish was half a stuffed zucchini, with mushrooms and shallots. The last time, uncle Den–Den made a one–pot of sausages and lentils, so I wished there werephoto, quai, pont neuf at least four of these zucchinis.

The main plate came with sliced pork filet, with cauliflower lightly curried and flavored with rosemary, with a carrot and potato purée – and again it wasn't as substantial as sausages and lentils, but it was very tasty.

Quay on the Ile de la Cité.

During and between these dishes about a six–pack of wine got wiped out, plus litres of water, and before the last set of dishes had been cleared a cheese plate was zoomed in. It held about a kilo of Brie de Meaux and Cantal, and there was some pretty good bread on the side.

I guess, if in doubt, just add a lot of Brie at the end. But it wasn't the end because after I thought it was over another round of plates was served, containing raspberries and strawberries in cream, with a dollop of crême de marron plopped in the middle. I shouldn't have had so much Brie.

What with the wine and all the food, there was a good dose of banter. The cook was saluted, several times. We saluted each other too, more than once. Uncle Den–Den read something political – but not from the Marx Brothers – and then a x–rated poem by an official poet we all know.

After about five hours of everything the eight of us became sleepy. Those who wanted second or third helpings of Brie had it, and the second six–pack of wine was showing serious dents.

The best thing about having dinner at uncle Den–Den's is the kitchen is too small to help with the washing up. The refrigerator is also too small to hold leftovers, so I came away with a kilo of good stuff every bit as good as the sausages and lentils from last time.

Italian Week Only Has 5 Days

The Salon des Italies opens today at the Mairie of the 13th arrondissement, which is at the Place d'Italie. Then on Tuesdayphoto, restaurants, place dauphine at 18:00 the area of Jeanne d'Arc will receive the name of 'Little Italy.' There will also be a parade of ultra–rare Fiat 500s. Noon on Wednesday is the time for naming Paris streets after Else Morante and Primo Levi, and at 18:00 there will be a vernissage for the exhibitions 'Viaggi in Italia' and 'Mete di Leopardi.' This continues on Thursday with more book signatures at the Mairie at 19:00 and Italian films at the Gaumont cinema at 21:00. The week ends with a concert on Friday at 20:30 in the chapel of the Hôpital Pitié–Salpêtrière. Check the Web site of the Mairie for detailed details.

Annual Open House

Each year France stages an 'open house' weekend to show off its treasures, some of which are not normally open to the public. This year the dates are 18–19. September. But the mostly free event is popular, lines can be long, and some locations require reservations. For a list of all the 'open doors' try the Journées du Patrimoine Web site. Find details on the right side of the screen. Beginning today, reservations can also be made at the Kiosque d'Information located in the garden of the Palais&ndash,Royal. For just one example, the Métro's operator, the RATP, has a program involving about two dozen events or sites, including rides on the 'Sprague' Métro trains.

Headline of the Week

"Vaincre les Féroé..." was on Le Parisien's front page last Wednesday. The Frenchphoto, pont des arts national football team has resumed the cycle of qualifying for the next World Cup, by first losing to the Swiss. To be credible with fans at home, the French had to beat the Faeroe Islanders – who have so little grass that they play their home games offshore.

The Pont des Arts.

The Faeroes' national team aren't even full–time footballers and their greatest victory was in 1995 when they swamped San Marino 3–0. Two goals scored in the last Euro scared the dickens out of the Scots. Alas, the French 'Bleus' managed to prevail, with two goals to zero. Le Parisien called it 'service minimum.' The Faeroe Islands are located between Shetland and Iceland, about where you probably thought there was nothing but waves.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Even though September is proceeding at a good clip you can find the latest 'Bongo 253' report still online. Several members, including Tomoko just back from Osaka, turned up for a quiet two hours in the club's café which gave the club's secretary ample material for a club report with more than nothing in it.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 16. September. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte–Edith. She was the daughter of Edgar the Pacific, who was the King of the Angles – who were later joined to the Saxons, by the French. Edith helped her mom in the Wilton monastery until her death in 864, at the age of 23. For the curious, it was about 1140 years ago.

Slightly more minor facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The grotty graphic of the virtual club membership card on this page looks four times better online than printed, but is free. The club membership itself is free too, even if it's valuable.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.38 – 15. Sept 2003 – the Café Metropole column's title was 'The Giant Sunball & Techno Über Alles.' The issue's 'Au Bistro' column headline was 'Hot Issues – Three Old, One New, One Forever.' Laurel Avery's 'Paris Life' column was titled 'Eclairs and Existentialism.' The Café Metropole Club update for 18. September was called, the 'Wanted' Poster' report.photo, sign, quai du marche neuf There were four 'Posters of the Week' and the caption of Ric's cartoon of the week was "Why? Why? Why?"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.38 – 16. Sept 2002 – The title for the Café Metropole column was 'Techno BOOM Techno BOOM!' The headline for the 'Au Bistro' column was 'France Télécom Sees Red.' The week's feature was headlined 'With a Little Help from the Agency Ladies.' The Scène column repeated 'Try and Take a Pick.' The Café Metropole Club update for 19. September had the 'The 'Flat Stanley' Major 'First' report. There were four Paris type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, "Abandoning the Bench?"

The Unrequested Return of the 'Countdowns'

Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Frédéric– August Bartholdi, the designer of the Stature of Liberty. His departure occurred on Tuesday, 4. October, when he was 70. This anniversary is 22 days from now, on a Monday.

We can also be 'counting–down' to the 150th anniversary of the birth on a Friday of Jean–Nicolas–Arthur Rimbaud. He was a major literary dude, and his anniversary is on Wednesday, 20. October, only 38 days from now.

Napoléon convinced some close friends to vote in favor of inventing the title of 'Emperor' for himself on Thursday, 3. May 1804. The Senat willingly passed the measure, as a civic gesture. A plebiscite was then held and 2569 careless Frenchmen votedphoto, portals notre dame against it. The coronation happened anyway on Sunday, 2. December and the 200th anniversary of this significant event is 81 days from now.

The entry to Notre Dame.

The anniversary of the first helicopter flight comes up in 62 days, on Saturday, 13. November. In 1906, near Lisieux, Paul Cornu managed to rise straight up, 1.5 metres off the ground. However the actual word 'helicopter' was invented much earlier in 1861, by Viscount Ponton d'Amécourt, who was thinking of Leonardo and Greek roots.

Today's Classic 'Anniversary of the Week'

There are only 109 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 490 BC, when the Athenians unforgettably thrashed the Persians at Marathon. This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 257 days, the same number that 522 BC had when Persian 'King–of–Kings' Darius had some serious problems, which encouraged the Greeks in Asia Minor to cause trouble and the Athenians to come and burn down Sardis, capital of the Lydian Empire.
signature, regards, ric

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