Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Smoke and Mirrors"

"Smoke and Mirrors": the name is based on magicians' illusions, where magicians make objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors amid a confusing burst of smoke. The expression may have a connotation of virtuosity or cleverness in carrying out such a deception.

Before the no smoke law in France, I always sat outside to have some possibility of smokeless air. Now all the smokers sit outside as it is forbidden to smoke inside--so I take my chances....
Last night at my favorite corner cafe, Cafe des Pres Aux Clercs, there was indeed a burst of smoke as two men sat down next to me to have their aperitif and cigarette(s). I tried to ignore the wave of smoke that crossed directly in front of me but it was becoming impossible. Just in the moment of no return, the monsieur next to me said " I think my smoke is on a direct path to your table madame". I said that it seemed to be determined to travel my way and that while I wanted him to be able to enjoy his cigarette, it was difficult for me to enjoy my dinner. With that he took one last puff of the cigarette and put it out! The two men smiled and said that I should never be afraid to say that the smoke is bothering me.... I'm thinking to myself...Where am I? Who are these people? The French and their cigarettes are not soon parted (normalement)!
A bit later, I could see they were wanting to smoke again and so they both got up and I presumed were leaving. I said to them..."c'est pas vrais"....you are leaving to smoke? I feel terrible! They smiled and headed over to the planted pots, put their back to the tables and had their cigarettes. Unbelievable! The waiter said he never saw anything like it! "Respect", he said. It is out of respect for you!"
I asked the waiter to include their wine bill on my dinner bill and not say anything to them until I left. I told him just say it is for Franco/American relations and smoker/non smoker relations!
Smoke and mirrors? No illusion here---just a great example of generosity and kindness.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

You Can't Go Back

...but if you're lucky, there will be different characters to help you revisit your memories...

A nostalgic day in the Luxembourg...


It's Sunday in Paris....so I felt it was my duty to eat a "religieuse"! While enjoying every bite, I had two thoughts: how fortunate am I to be in Paris and be able to walk into Laduree and order this pastry and , two , I pray that the pleasure of eating this relgieuse caramel does everything for my spirit and nothing for my waistline!