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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 washig 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.


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