Thursday, September 24, 2009

Living "A Moveable Feast" in Paris

My husband and I arrived from Paris late last night. It is early afternoon in San Francisco and the fog bank has not lifted at all in the Inner Richmond. The sun barely penetrates the slate grey sky. A cold wind dances in the tree tops just outside my window. A perfect day to stay indoors listening to Billie Holiday, sipping ginger peach tea and writing. It is late evening in Paris and I wonder if it remains as sultry as it had the been the past few nights we had spent there roaming around the Left Bank and Montmartre.

Autumn started to creep in yesterday on our last morning. It was finally cool enough for a trench coat and scarf as we made our way to a patisserie in Saint Germain des Pres for freshly baked croissants, past the cafes that were just starting to open and little shops with beautiful merchandise displayed in the windows. Down by the Seine we found ourselves alone on that little ship shaped island jutting out from under the Pont Neuf. The leaves of the horse chestnut trees and elms by the river have started to turn. A few golden and orange leaves were on the path leading down to the water. We sat at the concrete prow under the lamp post and the still lush weeping willow tree, watching barges and passenger boats cruise by. Hemingway wrote about this part of the river as being a popular fishing spot in "A Moveable Feast". I picked up a copy at Shakespeare and Company and wanted to pay homage to Papa Hemingway by having breakfast in that very same spot before we catch a plane home to San Francisco, quietly watching the city wake up, very much feeling how he felt when he wrote "I've seen you, Beauty.. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil."

This trip to Paris to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary has not only brought me closer to my husband and cement our shared passion for Art, Beauty and of course, good food and wine, but also to myself as a writer. Reading Hemingway is instructive because he chronicles in particular his process, how he knows that past a certain point in writing he has captured that elusive thing and that he can stop, feel good about having done good work, confident that the next day he can continue again. The people he surrounds himself with and are shaped by, the meals and wines he consumes to fuel his writing, and the role of hunger as a way to see Art more clearly. I love how he writes about going to see a Cezanne painting after skipping a meal and how much more connected he felt to the work on an empty stomach. But when he writes about food later on, it is in the vein of one who really does enjoy the simple pleasures of mopping up olive oil in his potato dish with bread, loving the dish so much that he orders a second serving.

I cannot write about Paris without writing about what we ate. This really is the heart of my food blog. But I will not do this all at once. Like one who has harvested the fruits of autumn for a cold winter ahead, I will be frugal and hold out on writing about them. Like Hemingway I will remain just a little bit hungry to sharpen the memory of those meals and what they meant as an experience shared with my husband who has brought me to Paris a second time. This amazing man who proposed to me at Pont Neuf two years ago and this year went out his way to give us the gift of our favorite city to mark the passing of our one year as married couple. Paris belongs to us, and we belong to each other.

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