The Stomach Is a Muscle

photo, marion and stephan nowak, group of the week Full of foie gras and sassy, Marion and Stephan.

"It Can Be Trained"

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 3. July:–  On the way to the club today in the métro, reading somebody else's paper over their shoulder, I saw that Ingrid Betancourt was in the news again. What now? What this time? It wasn't until I got a copy of Le Parisien from my news guy on the boulevard Saint–Germain that I saw the full front–page photo of Ingrid and the word, "Libre". There goes, I thought, the evening TV–news.

If the poor woman thought that being a hostage for 2321 days was prolonged hardship, after the news gets through with her – ah, let it go. After 24 hours of liberty she seemed to be holding up, although she did say that she would really, really, like to get off somewhere private with her family for a few days. Meanwhile in Paris they added a libre sticker to her giant poster at the Hôtel de Ville and some of the Columbians in town were prancing around wrapped in national flags.

The TV–news did the Ingrid story non–stop for 45 minutes until I began to worry about the fate of the evening's weather report. But they shoehorned it in just before 21:00.

photo, glass of sancerre Good plonk of the week.

Except for no repeat just yet of last Tuesday's brilliant day of 30 degrees, the coming weekend days appeared to be fairly calm, with moderate temperatures. Normally I would say sub–standard – this IS July after all. What we'll have will range from 22 to 23 degrees.

Today the sky was semi–full of white and black clouds, the temperature was about 24 degrees and that's what we earned. More hordes of tourists were near the Pont Neuf, deposited by too–visible buses, and fastfood vendors along the quai du Louvre were welcoming them with fresh burnt cheese sandwiches. More, semi wonderful, weather details follow the club report.

The Shine A Light of the Week Club Report

Upon arrival at the club's café today I did not get to read any of the paper's 5 pages spéciales on account of member Marion Nowak swinging into the grande salle with a triumphant look. Soldes d'Eté and "four pantalons" were the answer, plus Stephan was not far behind.

So close in fact that he had to move the bag full of pants so he could sit down with his own small shopping bag. The Nowaks reported that they had just spent a couple of weeks down south, in places like Toulouse and Albi. "It was 36 in Toulouse," Marion said.

Before I could find out more about paradise, Stephan began a story with some personal history about being in the army in some radio unit and finding a case of flashlight batteries in his luggage when he returned home. "They were Varta batteries, just like the ones you buy, and the last ones are just getting used up now," he said. He has had these batteries since 1989.

photo, light switch Light Switch of the Week.

We both agreed these must have been very strange Varta batteries, because they usually run out of juice anytime you need to use a flashlight. Which led to Stephan showing us his Soldes d'Eté treasures. He had a light switch, a face–plate, a support plate and a weird lightbulb socket converter, to connect to a bayonet socket. It was the kind of stuff you might need to fix some French wiring from 1944.

The Nowaks have a small apartment here. It has a cave. Stephan said, "As dark as the inside of a cow," in Swiss. He repeated it several times but neither I nor Marion could make it out.

Anyway, if he has to put a lot of stuff in the cave he has to do it with a flashlight in his mouth because there's no light in it. It's a French cave – you open the door and toss stuff in and forget it. But outside the cave there is a tiny 20 lightbulb in a bayonet socket. Stephan intends to rig a dingsbums to plug in and run wire into his cave and add the switch, and Bob's your uncle.

A stench of burnt cheese surrounded us. About Germany's loss to Spain in the football, I was corrected. According to the Nowaks, in Germany it is thought not at all bad because, eins they cheated, zwei the referees were blind, and drei Germany beat the Italians, which is what counts. Anybody can be beaten by the Spanish and there is no shame in it.

photo, beer of the week Ye Beere of the Week.

A nearby table full of ladies speaking some unknown eastern language abandoned their salads and sandwiches uneaten. Monsieur Ferrat attempted to mollify them without success and they clattered out. Marion thought they might not have agreed with the tomatos. To me it merely looked green and red. Maybe it was that burnt cheese.

About the south – where half of Europe is at the moment – the Nowaks said that they were not big on salads down there. Expensive and poor quality, fruit too, and hot in Albi. Something to do with the weather and the harvest in Spain – I don't recall, because I concentrate on weather news up here.

They stayed at an auberge that had duck on the menu. They had duck stuffed with duck liver, breakfast with duck liver, lunch entirely of duck liver, and the main dish after the foie gras was a light cassoulet, followed by duck dessert. They were there five days but they skipped food entirely on the last day. Marion said they were monster meals.

When I said I couldn't eat that much she said, "The stomach is a muscle. It can be trained!" I mulled this over until Marion added that she hadn't needed to expand her jeans – the very same self–made ones she wore at her last club meeting. The sales' pantalons were just for summer, and she said she expected them to last five years.

photo, busy sky of the week Today's sky, over Orsay.

Meanwhile Stephan was saying that they got a parking place in the delivery zone right in front of their apartment. I gave him the congratulations he deserved. It was especially handy he said, for unloading the 120 bottles and cubics of wine, the kilos of foie gras, the olives and the canisters of olive oil. This was when he realized that he really needed a good light in their cellar.

The Nowaks have been club members for several years but I've never seen them as frisky as they were today. It must have been that foie gras they had so much of, or the olives or the wine. We went out to the Corona's terrace for the Group Photo of the Week and they clowned a bit while the camera's 51 focus points blinked on and off like crazed neons. Then they went home to fix up the light so they could see what they have in their cave.

It's July After All Weather

By the time they decided to show the weather futures on the TV–news tonight I thought there might not be any. But here are the good tidings:

All weekend days, including, Friday, will have mornings, afternoons and evenings. We only care about the latter two. Expect semi–sunny sunny on Friday, with clouds and 23 degrees. Saturday will be better than you think, with sunny–semi–sunny, and maybe some breezes. Not quite so good for Sunday, and cooler with a high of only 22. What did you expect? It's July after all.

About the Café Metropole Club

Grab and scrunch your mouse and clickity–click to see a club meeting report buried somewhere lost in these pages. Less thrilling than hearing actual members' voices during club meetings but everything is seldom perfect. A clue about what the club's secretary might have been doing today may help and can be found on the About the Café Metropole Club webpage.

graphic, club location map

Foie Gras In the Patazone

As unrehearsed as any Thursday , semi out of control and like today, members flirting with duck liver. Club meetings run from 15:00 to 17:00 on Thursdays. The metric times are equivalent to 3 to 5 pm around other unmetric places, while meetings are held right here. The next meeting will be on Thursday, 10. July in the afternoon. If you feel like saying anything that can be heard by the other members present if there are any and if they are listening, and sometimes they are, but not always.* Your other, absolutely true, stories are totally welcome too even if they are true.

Caution – should you have a personal desire to remain 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. Stay lost if you must.

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since the last report a week ago because of my great and newly awakened desire for foie gras, olives, nuts, stinky cheese, sausage and low–grade pink wine. Enough of that lousy orange juice!

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.
Next club meeting on Thursday, 10. July.

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