Finger Lickin' Good

photo, group, sandra, sanford, dennis, marion, stephan From left, Sandra, Sanford, Dennis, Marion and Stephan.

Alligator for Eight

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 25. May 2006:– The TV–weather lady, Valerie I guess, the first thing she says is it's going to be humid in the north. Oh yeah. What else is new? There's even a 60 kph wind going to blow this way, making sure.

Big black clouds are supposed to hang up north along the frontier, then the middle of the country will be very mixed with various shades of gray sky – I mean the part covered by clouds that prevent anyone from seeing blue sky. Way down south the sun will be shining, not a seldom thing, but that isn't anywhere around here. Around here the temperature may go up to 23 degrees, so consider it humid.

For Saturday that northern frontier is supposed to be even worse, a kind of 'extra cloudy.' Around here there will be a veil of clouds, but Valerie said they would be thin and we shouldn't worry about them. In general everything is warmer, so it's supposed to be 23 again.

photo, full cafe of the weekThe secretary's cafˇ of the week.

On Sunday the darkness up on the frontier switches to being kind of sunny. The kind of pretty darn sunny down south stays being pretty darn sunny. And here, right around where we are, no such positive outlook is on hand and those thin clouds we had on Saturday compress themselves, turn grayer, act funky. Adding to the insult the temperature is supposed to slide down to 21 degrees.

At the end she closed her jolly long–weekend météo show by saying that rain would return on Monday. So nice – it's so long since we've seen any. She also promised a cool 19 degrees.

The Before–the–Report Report

Fun isn't what I expected tonight while putting together today's club report but I didn't expect the sheer meanness of technology to be so rotten. Yesterday I switched from a tired old Mac computer to a shiny new silver Apple PowerBook just loaded with bells, whistles, drop shadows, Airports, and snitch software that keeps trying to connect to the software police. I've been wrestling with this for a couple of months but I decided to step into a new world yesterday.

This first thing I do here after a club meeting is unwrap the photos, which include the all–important 'Group Photo of the Week,' and make them all into silk purses. So the second thing I did was open one and fiddle with it a bit and then save it. Photoshop locked solid. Shutdown, restart, do the same photo again, go to save it, and – lockup! Third try, fourth try, fifth try – throw out 'user interface enhancing' freeware and shareware, more trials, more lockups.

photo, pastis and h2o of the weekWater, pastis and wine.

I wasn't too worried. The old Mac is set up and ready to go. All it needs is being plugged in, and shifting the USB card reader to it and unloading the photos. Well, the old Mac started all right but neglected to send any image it its monitor. That's not too good. It was working like a charm yesterday too.

Back to the new setup. Photoshop started doing its stuff as soon as I quit using the number keys at the right side of the Apple keyboard. They look okay to me, part of the set, but there's some voodoo in there. In the end, making this story much shorter for you than me, it only took me three hours to do the photos I usually do in 45 minutes.

Then I began the search for the standard files I need for the report. I swear I transferred them to the new machine yesterday. Where are they? Somehow, this new computer thinks it is two computers, and it has three users, some who have permission or authorization to use it and others don't, especially me – who is all three of these jokers.

Well here is is nearly two in the morning and there's still an exciting club report to write. Luckily, on a holiday here, we had a wonderful club meeting. You should have been here.

The John Deere Club Report

photo, drinks of the week Misc. drinks of the week.

The 'waiter of the week' gives me a dirty look when I tell him I'd order something later. Most people going into a café want something right away. I don't know why the management doesn't tell the 'waiter of the week' that the club has certain free 'sit around' privileges, but if they haven't done it for any of the past 336 Thursdays I don't expect them to start soon.

And there was Monsieur Ferrat saying that business wasn't too good, but today's Grande Salle was richly sprinkled with folks eating and drinking, admiring their postcards, studying their maps and taking comfort in the facilities downstairs.

I had no more time than to read that Le Parisien's owner left the earth for good before members Marion and Stephan Nowak were standing before the club's tables, waiting for a free seat – of which there were about 23. Marion says, "Are the garbage collectors on strike?"

Haven't I mentioned this? What with all our riots, demonstrations, protests, governments in agony, who can keep track? Before I can even remember if the garbage collectors are on strike, member Dennis Moyer glides into the glare of the club's area and immediately begins grilling Stephan – who says they moved to Cologne to make money so they could buy a studio in Paris. They have a lot more three–day weekends than we do.

"Painting," Stephan says, "And laying carpets, sleeping on the floor..." They say they went to 139 agents and the studio they got wasn't even displayed in a window. Marion says, "How much is that doggie in the window?" Don't ask, this is what these of mine notes say.

Dennis remembers being in Cologne during Fasching. "The ladies were singing naughty songs. My friend was so impressed he said he was going to leave his wife." Dennis knows all about Germany. He was a sports editor while in the army there. "Where do you like to go in Cologne?" he asks Marion and Stephan.

"We spend all our free time in Paris," Stephan says. And like a good club member Dennis then switches to grilling Marion, who has a tiresome job of deciding whether a certain kind of loser should be allowed to drive. Dennis, very interested, says, "It's simple, I gave up driving for seven years. You can buy a lot of wine with no gasoline."

Another couple have taken a nearby table and they are paying attention until they can get a word in, which is to say, they are prospective club members checking out the club members to decide whether it's safe to join the club.

We pass I guess because we meet Sandra Prescott from Suwannee in Florida – a 'City of the Week' if I ever heard of one! – and Sanford Roberts, from Eminence, Kentucky. Dennis says, "I had a grandfather who lived in Arkansas!"

A geographical precision is supplied by Sandra. "Suwannee is at the mouth of the Suwannee River." When I look slightly befuddled by this she adds, "It's about 70 miles west of Gainesville." To make it absolutely clear Sanford says Stephan Foster, who wrote 'My Old Kentucky Home,' also wrote 'Swannee River,' which is from the first line of 'Old Folks At Home.'

It means that this week's 'City of the Week' has a state song about it, one that Ray Charles took a hit off. Meanwhile, Sandra and Sanford are telling us about their barge in the shipyard on the Marne someplace. Dennis or course is very interested, noting that absent member Dimitri happens to be visiting the Barge–Lady today.

photo, solo pastis of the weekCloseup of the pastis of the week.

I miss a lot of the barge talk because Marion is telling me that Europe–Park has the world's best roller coasters because the park is really the R&D location of the world's biggest roller coaster manufacturer. She says people drive down from Hamburg early on Saturdays to get in at 8:00 for a full weekend of roller coasting. The things one learns at the club!

Then Sanford tells us about the pickpockets. As he was getting on the Métro somebody said 'tickets' and he glanced towards the platform, while someone in the wagon snitched his wallet out of a front pocket, and zipped out the door as it was closing, and scooted as the train left the station. Sanford's advice – "Ignore anybody who shouts 'ticket!s" He adds, "Paris' pickpockets are the best too!"

Dennis says, "My granfather in Arkansas told me..." But it is not all joking – Sanford has a serious question for the club's secretary – "Who moved Napolean's son from wherever he was to beside Napoleon at the Invalides?"

While I hopelessly mull this over, for a major 'first' Sandra gives us her recipe for 'how to fry an alligator.'

photo, empty cafe of the week That was the cafˇ of the week.

1.– Shoot the alligator
2.– If it's not dead you'll find out
3.– Cut the tail off
4.– Skin the tail carefully
5.– Slice it up in inch thick pieces
6.– Mix up some flour, salt, pepper and cream
7.– Roll the pieces around in it
8.– Deep fry in vegetable oil

Dennis asks, "How long?"

9.– Until it's done
10.– Serve hot, 8 gatorbites per person

The concept is not the easiest to grasp. Sanford says the gator tail pieces are "Like porkchops."

Sandra says alligator actually tastes a bit like Catfish, and adds that Catfish doesn't taste like it used to. She says folks don't like to admit they eat gator, "But they do."

My last notes do not mention the waiter getting nervous when we all troop outside for the 'Photo of the Week' but he did, and they say nothing about why I noted 'Hog Island' in the margin, but I do remember Sanford saying that his barge sports a lot of John Deere flags, and as he leisurely floats through canals farmers in their fields salute the flags.

Apparently Dennis' grandfather in Arkansas had no opinion about barging past a lot of farmers in Europe.

About the Café Metropole Club

Slightly credible, but every word true in this club meeting 'report. Obviously you may help yourself to a look at the explanation about what's going on, on the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page, for its many morsels of wisdom, titles, sentences, paragraphs, graphics, scribbles and photos.

Who, Why, Where, When, What, How?

Club meetings as these improbable events are called begin at 15:00 every Thursday and continue until 17:00. These times, hammered in steel, are equivalent to 3 pm to 5 pm. Around somewhere else is not where the any meeting will be.

graphic: club location map

Take off a hour, kick off your sandals and waste a whole two hours with other club members pretty much like yourself. True 'firsts' are welcome and real stories will get a sympathetic hearing. Other stories will depend on your skill. Whatever you say will be truly appreciated by the other members present if there are any listening, and sometimes there are but not always – and if it should by rare chance be written here.*

Caution – should you have the personal mission of remaining unfindable via the Web, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be '404 – not found' by Web search engines before becoming 'found' tangoing in one of these musicalical club reports.

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because of the wonderful recipe, which is a stupendous 'first' of major consequences.

The café's location is:

Café–Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – or – 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre–Rivoli, Pont–Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday, from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini