Paris Diaries


The first time Gusteau saw snow in his life.
December 9, 2008, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Gusteau, Paris | Tags: , ,

It gets very cold in Paris in December but it rarely snows.

“It never snows in December,” our friendly banker told us one day.  “You’ll have to wait until January or February.”  Well, sometimes it never snows in Paris in December and then sometimes it just does.  It did.  Barely, but it definitely did.  The snow flakes came tumbling to earth right outside our window that overlooks the quaint and endearing rue des Canettes.

It fell and fell but did not take form on the sidewalk below or the zinc rooftops.  But as it fell our charmingly inquisitive cat, Gusteau, took it all in from his perch where he sees the outside world.

Below is a short video of the first time Gusteau saw snow in his life.  Bonus points if you figure out the sound track.

[As always, be sure to check out the rest of our Parisdise afterward for much, much more!]

Advertisements


On a cold autumn day.
December 5, 2008, 10:03 am
Filed under: Food, Gusteau, Paris | Tags: , , , , ,

This morning, it was Gusteau le chaton’s turn to go under the knife.  Because Nez didn’t have to work until the afternoon, both of us took him to the vet on rue de Cherche-Midi.  We wondered if the little fella had moved on from being a chaton to being a mere chat, as he surely weighed a whole lot more than when Riot took him to the vet for his shots not more than a month ago.

After bidding him goodbye on the shiny examination table, we walked home on the pretty little street whose charming name literally means “seeking midday” (as far as we could tell).  Even though it was raining lightly, we paused at the famous Poilâne at number 8 for some morning bread.  The interior conjured the image of an artisanal bread shop with its wares neatly laid out on wooden shelves, very orderly and welcoming but not at all over-the-top.  The sweet smell of freshly baked bread wafted through the air.

Not seeing the usual baguettes we had in mind (see below), Riot resorted to asking the lady standing by the bread rows for the “spécialité de la maison.”  The jovial and friendly young grandmotherly figure in a smart smock gave off a hearty laugh and pointed to an empty shelf as if to say, “there is none left.”  Then, she quickly turned to the lady behind the sole counter in the middle of the small store, also outfitted in the same professional overcoat, and said:  “They asked for the spécialité de la maison and we have none left.  Ha ha ha ha ha.”

Poilâne sourdough

Poilâne sourdough

So, we settled for a quarter of a sourdough loaf on the row below that seemed just as delicious.  We noted the steam escaping from the inside as the knife passed through the clearly freshly baked bread.  The bread lady handed our goods, which now also included a croissant, to the accountant (for she looked just like the accountants of yore, pencil, notebook, etc., just about the only thing missing was the green visor) who took our money and bid us a good day.

Poilâne croissant

Poilâne croissant

The bread was heartier than the usual baguettes but was just as tasty.  The crust was a thin layer of golden crunchiness that complemented the soft interior.  On the website we read about a young baker from Normandy who came to Paris in 1932 to open his first shop and “[d]espite the fierce competition, he was determined to bake the traditional French sourdough loaves which were not as popular as baguettes.”  That explained the lack of baguettes when we first came into the store.  Nez’s croissant was amazing, the buttery flavor really came through and also literally through the paper bag in came wrapped in.

While Gusteau was recuperating at the vet (“il est tranquille,” was the only thing Riot could understand in the voicemail message the vet promised he would leave at around noon and did) and Nez was off at work, Riot did several loads of laundry.  Because it was cold and rainy, the small homeless population of Saint-Germain-des-Prés sought shelter in whatever warm shelter they could find.  That, it appeared, was fine by everyone else who went on as if they did not see, hear, or smell anything different.

As did Riot until he was startled from the pages of Joseph Heller’s classic by a screaming woman inches from his face.  Before he could think of anything to do or say, the woman had retreated to a corner of the laundromat, screaming all the while.  The place thinned out quickly and before long it was just Riot, the wet laundry, and an angry transient by the dryers.  Riot was loading the dryers when he was met by another barrage of vehement uttering he didn’t understand save for a “chinois” thrown in here and there, maybe even a “Sarkozy” or two.  Later on, the clothes came out of the dryers spewing steam like the sourdough of this morning – it was a cold day – and out of the corner of his eye he could see the equal-opportunity madwoman in a peaceful slumber.

Gusteau was picked up at around five.  Unlike his American counterpart, he did not have a plastic collar around this neck to prevent him from licking his wound and there was no admonition about using shredded newspaper in his litter box for the first few days.  Just a reminder to apply daily an antiseptic solution to the wound, which the vet was astonished to learn that we didn’t already have a bottle sitting in our medicine cabinet.  And another reminder to watch Gusteau’s diet as he was already a hefty 4 kg and could “expand.”

Gusteau already back at play after his operation

Gusteau already back at play after his operation

Riot and the subdued cat in a heavy carrying case walked home along the lively streets illuminated by the holiday lights.  In front of the mairie, two tall Christmas trees were driven into the sidewalk.  (Had they removed the concrete panels?)

 

[As always, be sure to check out the rest of our Parisdise afterward for much, much more!]