The Flore. This is the place where Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre worked on their essays, plays and novels, literary milestones that made them rich and famous (well, not really rich, but very, very famous), all while having lots of coffee and even more cigarettes. As for the cigarettes, I cannot say which brand they were smoking and if I would have liked their taste, I’m a Dunhill kind of guy, the blue ones, but as far as the coffee is concerned, gee, no wonder they were so embittered about society. I hate that brew. It’s so nicely presented, the coffee is served in a jug, you got another one for your milk, hot milk on top, you pour and mix it yourself, according to your taste, you get an extra glass of water, so all in all one really can’t complain—but still, I do. This coffee is just awful, it‘s way too strong, it tastes like overdosed Nescafé, strangely bitter, brutal, a simultaneous attack on your taste buds and your stomach, you take one sip and you immediately have to light a cigarette to recover from it—and it takes a lot of time to recover. But that’s actually the only good thing about it, as a convalescent, you spend your time soaking up the atmosphere while watching the passers-by, just as long as it takes to let this wonderful spot called St.Germain-des-Prés sink in really deep. I can do this for hours at a time while that nasty coffee is getting cold. And if you should feel like re-reading “Les Mandarins” or “Les Mots“, there’s a bookshop just next door on Boulevard St.Germain, so you can start right away, right there where it was written.
When you’re somewhat blue, for any reason at all, or when the world seems to fall apart, or when there’s nothing really new on Netflix and you’re still angry with the producers of The Crown because that thing that happened in season 2, you know, in that episode where they had Jackie Kennedy comment disparagingly on the royal household in general and Her Majesty in particular, and then they had poor Elizabeth, as some sort of after-effect, take off all vexed to Ghana to dance away not only her marital problems but also her government’s post-colonial misconduct just to prove Jackie wrong, you do remember that, don’t you? Anyway, that thing was all made up! God bless The Guardian for their investigative journalism, it’s been a real life-saver as I had almost told anybody I know I had always known what a bitch Jackie was, and then it turned out she wasn’t a bitch at all, just the perfectly dressed, stunning little trooper she always was. In such moments of humiliation nothing presents a better cure than homemade crêpes, just spread some English orange marmalade (in honour of the Queen) and some Cointreau (in honour of Jackie’s French extraction) on it, no need to flambé the stuff, and there you go again. God save us all!
After a day of work in the garden—and more importantly: in the rain—one cannot expect me to carb up with caviar blinis, can one? When you feel like a lumberjack, eat like a lumberjack, I say. Sautéd beans, sausage, potatoes, and lots and lots of marjoram is the heartiest way of getting one’s strength back. And don’t forget to have a beer with it instead of the usual claret…
I admit it. I love to eat while watching TV. The thing is, it’s completely unhandy to use a knife while half-lying in your chair, it’s almost as unpractical as serving steaks when there’s no place to sit (Mr. Geller is my authority on this, you know, Ross and Monica’s father from Long Island, the one who bought a Porsche to help him cope with his midlife-crisis and walked in on Rachel when she was changing in Monica’s room). Anyway, my point is, you just have to prepare stuff you can eat with either a spoon or a fork. Greek salad, for instance. It’s really healthy, too, so you can even tell tour mum or your nutritionist about it, the most demanding group of people ever. Make a lot of everything, too. In this binge-watching age, one never knows for how long a series really ties one down, and one wouldn’t want to pause in the middle of everything just to prevent oneself from starving, would one?
The recipe sounded like it presented a shortcut to paradise: apricots, honey, rosemary, lemon peel and amaretti, all blended together, quirled and layered, little bits of heaven transformed into a cake. I followed each step as described, religiously. I picked the rosemary in the garden myself, chopped it with the utmost care and precision, quite lovingly one might even say, pelt the lemon, stuffed the apricots with the amaretti, quirled the eggs and the milk, spread the honey, I did not change a single step, and if there were any justice in this world, I would have created the perfect cake for anybody into apricots. If! Instead I got a perfect mess. The morale of the story? Perfection comes in a variety of appearances.
You’re tired, you miss your bed the minute you get out of it, then you don’t want to leave the shower but of course you get out of this comfort zone, too, you get all styled up and into the kitchen, you pour yourself a coffee, and you look at this mass of vitamins and nutrients and beauty boosters you keep washing down with it and you ask yourself if it’s all worth it — and then there’s that very important beagle person who tells you everything will be fine. God bless him.