Sunday, February 20, 2005

Finding Falafel

Feb. 9-13, 2005

There are a lot of red shoes in Paris this year. And the windows of all the chocolate shops are full of red hearts for St. Valentine's Day.

And all of a sudden it's bitterly col, or at least it feels bitter to me, after how mild it's been for the past few weeks. Someone said it was snowing here this morning, but I didn't see it. When I woke up the sun was shining and I opened the doors to the balcony. But by the time people arrived for the workshop at 10 a.m. teeth were chattering and I had to turn the heat back on.

This weekend I taught an intensive poetry workshop for WICE. On Saturday we met at WICE headquarters on blvd. Montparnasse; but since the group was small, I invited everyone to meet me in the Marais today. (I resisted, however, the temptation to teach in my p.j.'s.) Kathryn Clutz brought madeleines. David Nutt (yep, the name suits him, a retired British businessman who's now the scion of Fromage.com because he thought it would be fun to start an internet business selling French cheeses, and it is) brought his wicked laugh and the smell of pipe tobacco. Jan Harrington brought her luggage because she'd be catching the TGV back to Geneva as soon as the workshop ended. Ann Pawlebrought ALL the homework revisions and a new poem. Janyce Griffiths, the quiet Canadian, tries to fade into the background but today she brought a poem that featured glowing feces.

We worked all morning then went out to have lunch in the neighborhood. Sunday, and all the good falafel places on rue des Rosiers were packed. So we ducked into a Jewish deli and had really dreadful food -- Jan, for example, ordered a HOT DOG, which turned out to be a better choice than the salad I sent back for lack of an egg -- but really great conversation. People here always seem to want to know WHO in America voted for the likes of Arnold and W, and WHAT were they thinking? And always, it just comes down to stupidity and greed and short-sightedness, as far as any of us can figure.

Anyway, it was my first bad meal in Paris this trip, EVEN including the little dinners I make for myself on the rare evenings I stay in. I have perfected my omelette fromage, so don't snicker. Friday night, I'd had dinner with Brett and Aileen at their apartment on rue Montorgueil and got to spend sometime being entertained by their three -- count 'em! -- little girls, ages 5 and 3 and 16 months. I also met their friend Corine, who's agreed to give me French lessons while she's temporarily unemployed. Saturday evening I met Sonia and Shakil and Shakil's son, Devon, for Japanese on rue St. Anne. This evening after the workshop, Brett came by and we walked around the corner to the rue des Rosiers, where I finally got my falafel at a place called Chez Hannah. Et voila.

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