You Can Burp In Peace

photo, cheese, fromagerie, marche daguerre On Daguerre, cheese first after the métro.

Stinky Food Time Again

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Saturday, 14. October–  After a long pause it is stinky food time again. Instead of going to the Luxembourg to sniff the plants I strolled down Rue Daguerre to take a look at the folks getting their daily necessities. They could go to the Monoprix like most of us poor people – anybody can shop there – but since they have a bit more jingle in their designer jeans, not all purchased at Tati – they can skip the cheap – say, "populaire" – butchers at the beginning and grab some cheese.

You never know. They might be weak and needy and they say a shot of stinky cheese is a power pickup. Thus fortified they have a choice of getting fruit and veg or fish. All the fruit has high–end prices for so–so, depending on the season – who's on strike – so maybe fish is a better bet. If it lives in water the fish place has it. No seals of course, on account of the fur crazies.

photo, mushrooms, fruit and veg, marche daguerre Goodies from deep in the forests.

Monday night's TV–news will say that fish has become a lot more expensive. Think about it. Nobody feeds the fish but everything about them is more expensive. Gas costs a fortune and the EC sets quotas, which means less, fewer fish, so the market says "pay more!"

What the darn hell! So with a couple of kilos of sardines then you might as well get the fruit and veg. Grapes and wild mushrooms are in season. Some of them look terrible. Don't look if you eat them. Not expensive if you consider that most were found free in the forests and under bridges, snatched from the greedy clutches of trolls, by average civilians who augment their pitiful pensions by gathering mushrooms and – what's that real pricey stuff? – ah, truffles!– like Little Bo–Peep. These are folks with second homes in Rio.

photo, wine shop, nicolas, marche daguerre The drink part of the food.

Then there's a Greek joint. Greeks are all over the world selling olives, that I think must come from Spain. The only reason I don't shop there is because olives in the Monoprix are often on sale and still not worth it – probably Greek olives after all – and it's next door to the Chope, a café I was in once in 1999. A lot of people like the Chope once, but nobody I know.

There's another little supermarket, named Franprix. I lived out in a suburb and a local Franprix was the only place around. I did it for eight years and that's enough for a lifetime. Somebody else can have my place there.

People come from all over Paris to eat at the Enfer but I've never been in it, not even in 1999. There's probably nothing wrong with it if you don't mind sitting on small chairs and tables that are very close together. Body heat is probably welcome in winter.

I have always meant to try the red–meat butcher. Just as soon as my craving for raw meat returns, if it is the same time as I have something to cook it with. Otherwise I can get a hot chicken full of water, anytime, for six euros. Actually there's two Chicken Heinz places. One is the horse meat butcher and the other is a Asian guy who specializes. He has roast potatoes too. Cool people get the chickens instead of pizza.

photo, shrimp, moules, clams Shrimp, moules and clams, I think.

There are several places to get drink. Peret, Nicolas and the yellow place that reminds me of Spain. Any one is better than taking a chance at Monoprix, unless it is the time of wine sales and you know your stuff, which I don't anymore. Peret has good café. Some say it is the best on the street, maybe the best for several streets around, if you don't feel like walking all the way to the Comédia two blocks away. It costs the same in both places, the same as it costs in all the places in town with bad coffee. It's democratic.

I have left out a couple of Italian delis, a so–called Moroccan deli, a couple of chocolate shops, two other bakeries – there's six on Daguerre – a fastfood, another cheese place, a foie gras emporium, three cafés, another bottle shop, several sushi joints, a Pho soup fastfood, Zango, some restaurants, drying and cleaning, hairdressers, real estate agents – what is this? – you can't eat them.

Well, toss in a toy shop, several florists, a bank, a post office, several hotels and two bars – ooh, I'm forgetting the other end with its café Baghdad. And in case you are too disorganized there's three or four tiny groceries open on Sundays and when everything else is closed. Did I mention clothes? There's even a hat shop, and I bought a blanket the other day.

I did take a flower shot at the florist but I'm not posting it here. Like a lot of the food sitting out on the pavement, I can't tell one flower from another. All I know is we aren't having any funeral and although some people eat them, I think they are overpriced.

If you consider that you can use a phone to order pizza, this is what the rue Daguerre lacks. For all that it has there is still no phone boutique and there's no place calling itself a pizzeria. It must be one of the rare streets in the world like this. Yes, you can buy phone cards to call home in Africa, and you can pay phone bills at the post office. It is not total boondocks.

There's no funeral parlor in the street either. Maybe it's because the cemetery is only a block north. There's an architect and some kind of strange church – nobody talks about it much, except to say there was a riot there once. I think everybody is leaving it alone.

A lot of people are very curious about the street's nightclub, the Bélière. Back in 2001 I might have mentioned that the 14th's mayor got reelected with a platform to save it because it was a funky neighborhood place with a real piano, and that's what happened. The mayor got reelected and the Bélière was saved, kind of.

photo, bread shop, boulangerie, marche daguerre Staffs of life – daily.

To save it they demolished everything except two walls, and then they built a thing from celler to second floor, all new, lots of concrete, and when it was finished they transformed the two walls they'd saved so they looked exactly like the rest of of place – like a brand–new klotz with a red–tile roof and with some apartments and clubrooms for associations, but it has taken them a bit longer to restore the nightclub part.

In fact, a brand new five–star hotel on the Champs–Elysées has been built from scratch in less time. Now there are workmen swarming all over, putting in triple–glazing, installing kitchens worthy of the Queen Mary II, and, who knows? gilding the bar that used to be made of recycled apple–crates. I guess it will be finished by the time the next election rolls around, and we can vote for the mayor again.

All in all it's 600 meters of shop–type shopping and neighborhood entertainment. Frankly, what's missing on Sundays when they close it to cars are the smells. But folks can walk up and down in the middle of the street and burp in peace.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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