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Paris-It’s a Love-Hate Kind of City-Part 1

Café_de_FloreI’m jerked awake  from a fevered slumber as the hotel door bursts open, ” What the f**k is wrong with these people?! I can’t get a f*****g cup of coffee!

Realizing what had just happened at the cafes next door while I was curled up in the warm blankets of my Paris hotel room makes me laugh out loud, and then I cough.

Did you ask for your coffee in French sweetie? Or did you walk in and say, ‘Can I get a large coffee?‘”

At the first place they didn’t even f*****g acknowledge me!

Did you ask in French?” I said, sitting up in bed and grinning at him.

No.”

Honey, if someone came up to you at home and asked you for something in Mandarin, you’d be pissed they weren’t speaking one of our national languages.

He carried on his rant, letting the truth of what I just said sink in knowing, but not admitting that I was right. “At the second place they just said, “Non” (imagine the worst french accent ever), “Cafe this big“. He holds up his fingers like he’s going to pinch a baby.

You may want to try using your French while we’re here honey, or find a Starbucks.

EmbracingCoffee_web-824x549

Less than half an hour later he discovered there was coffee at the hotel, and he lugged up three cups to our suite while I got ready to go out for the day.

My partner was appalled by not being able to order a drink without food, a mammoth sized coffee and the slow service at restaurants. His discomfort was my entertainment. You see, I love the complexities of French service, social interaction and just being in such an amazing city.

To watch someone rage against their own ways while being hosted by ‘others’ was rather entertaining. While he was stewing about how he was going to score his next ginormous caffeine fix ( this morning he had two pots of coffee ),  I was marveling at the architecture, lounging in the warm comfort of the reading room at Shakespeare & Company, and people watching from the famous cafes on Boulevard Saint-Germain. I was in my glory.

My partner now fondly refers to anyone from France as a Euro-Weenie. We differ in our perspective regarding the French as we differ with regard to our politics.

The French, like any nation/culture have their own way of doing things. A way of eating, drinking and socializing that has earned them a place in history as gracious host to a generation of writers and artists who shaped the western cultural world. I can respect that.

Merci pour la petite cafe.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eggnog Lattelessness

eggnogAvoid Starbucks if you’re looking for a Christmasy Egg-Nog Latte. Go straight to Second Cup. This, from a die-hard Starbucks customer.

What I got as my ‘Birthday Reward’ from Starbucks was not an eggnog latte. Not the sweet, foamy cup of christmasy-feel-good-caffeine that I’ve become accustomed to, and look forward to every winter.

This afternoon I knew that  the young gentleman barista behind the counter was thinking that I was just another mouth-breathing-too-much-money-and-not-enough-sense customer.

In my mind’s eye, I could see my smartly-suited self staring, open-mouthed at the festive white and red menu that was missing the option of the annually, much-anticipated egg-nog-latte. Even as the words came out of my mouth, I knew I sounded like an irritating twit but I just couldn’t stop myself, ” Is there any egg-nog-latte this year? I don’t see it on the board.”

The very polite barista explained that it was his understanding that the eggnog latte is only available in the west this year, and last year, it was our year in ‘the east’.  It sounded like a load of bologna, and I want you to promise me that you’ll tell me if you find a Starbuck’s Egg-Nog Latte in the GTA, so I ended up settling for the new chestnut praline latte. I was promised that it was delicious, but it was, in fact, just meh. 

I shall be actively seeking another noggy caffeine replacement at the Second Cup and other fine coffee establishments that remain faithful to the crack-like caffeine-nog addiction Starbucks has caused me to have.

And so my holiday began, my sweet little sugarplums, with an annoyingly first-world problem – eggnoglattelessness. Thank you Starbucks for making me feel like an annoying, privileged moron. Bah-Humbug!

 

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Cafe Culture & Being Anti-Social

“A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month's study of books”
“A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books”
~Chinese Proverb~

Perhaps I shouldn’t say ‘anti-social’. Perhaps I should say…ok, let’s just go with anti-social.

I like to strike out daily as a little bit of fabulous, a little bit of intriguing intellectual, and a little bit curious cutie. I also like to think that I’m successful at some of these things.

None of these little quirks is an invitation to interruption, small talk, or other people who don’t have enough confidence to entertain themselves for the duration of a cup of coffee.

Today, I ventured into a coffee shop that, on a scale of one to ten, ranks at about an 8. That’s pretty good since I’ve yet to experience a 10. Even my favourite haunt in the city only ranks at 7. 7.5 on a good day when the nose-picking newspaper bin diver is absent.

With a seasonal menu that offered both pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin spice tea and apple pie tea latte as well as the standard Americano and espresso, I was overjoyed to find a table to myself.

The establishment, ‘The Socialist Pig’ is adjacent to a restaurant boasting simple yet gourmand fair. I opted for an apple pie tea latte and a glazed/fried tofu burger with spicy condiment, homemade roll, and grated carrots with a side of over-dressed salad.

Despite being rudely interrupted by an over-dressed housewife who could not entertain herself while her twin companion excused herself to the ‘powder room’, I had a lovely time.

This woman interrupted me mid-bite, pointing, with her bony finger within inches of my meal, “Do you mind me asking what it is you’re eating?”

I hope my eyes said it all, ” Yes. Yes I do you annoying social skin tag.”

Instead, I answered, “Tofu.” After all, she only had to look at a menu to deduce what it was that I’d filled my mouth with just as she felt the uncomfortable feeling of being alone. Poor darling.

She looked, and sounded like a previous colleague of mine who likely wouldn’t have touched a place like The Socialist Pig with a ‘barge-pole’. If only because the last known barge-pole was hung in the Antiquated and Annoying Sayings Hall of Fame three-freaking-centuries ago.

Mrs. Uncomfortable-in-her-own-skin then proceededto ask in her too-loud voice about where ‘you get your delicious coffee. “Concord,” was the answer. Mrs. Uncomfortable’s response made me choke on my pretentious, but oh-so-freaking-delicious burger-sandwich; “Oh, so it’s locally grown.”

Are you serious?! Yes, I imagine you glorious twit, that the coffee beans were grown right in the middle of corn, beans and squash on the local reserve. Sweet love of Jesus, where do these people come from?

After a very long stretch of days on end working a job that I really do love, I crave the company of one of two types of people; the introvert, or the intellectual of carefully chosen vocabulary. Today I shared the company of neither, which is a lovey third option, minus the universal hiccup of she-who-thinks coffee grows in the Eastern Ontario wild.

If you ever have the good fortune to travel to Gananoque, I do suggest a visit to The Socialist PIg. Try the coffee, try the tea, but if you see a woman with dark-rimmed glasses sipping her tea quietly while reading the Globe and Mail, keep your socially-anxiety-provoked-silly questions to yourself. Unless….

You’re a single male between the ages of whatever and whatever with something interesting to talk about, and a sailboat moored at the end of the street on the St. Lawrence.