Update from Paris
Well, Leo the dog has arrived in Paris, and as I predicted, he was my entree into my first real conversation with a French person, sitting in a park during his morning walk. The conversation was quite difficult-- Leo's admirer has worse English than I do French, which is saying quite a lot. We got to talking politics-- upon learning that I am American, he was quickly interested to know what I think of George Bush-- and I think he said that he is against abortion but in favor of assisted suicide for crazy people. Needless to say, it was not too much longer before I extricated myself from the situation, although I can't say which of those two views creeped me out more.
More importantly, I have had some great experiences at the local market this week. I went to the supermarket for the first time on Sunday-- this is amazingly similar to the American supermarket, although much smaller. (In other words, amazingly similar to the New York supermarket.) But here I am talking about the indoor market with individual stands selling produce, wine, cheese, meats, etc. Tonight I bought a container of those beautiful strawberries I mentioned in my previous post, and they were as good as they looked. Each of them was the Platonic ideal of a strawberry-- perfect in shape and color, exactly as a illustration of a strawberry would look. Normally, at home, the strawberries at the bottom of the container are bruised and maybe even beginning to rot, but each of these strawberries was perfect.
I also went to the Italian specialities booth, where the man working the counter is friendly, makes jokes, and explains the dishes he has available in French, and then realizes that I am a foreigner and explains again in English. A couple of days ago I bought a small game bird from him, already cooked, along with some carrots and onions it had been cooked with. Tonight I bought two tomatoes stuffed with veal and Italian ham, which I had at home with rice, sauteed onions, and green beans, followed by a bowl of those strawberries and a piece of dark chocolate.
This afternoon for lunch I stopped in a local bakery and bought a sandwich for about three dollars. The sandwiches here are much more bread than they are anything else-- this one had just a few thin slices of salami and sliced pickles in it, and today for the first time I understood why. The bread was so delicious-- this was the bakery that my landlord had told me is the best in the neighborhood-- that the sandwich filling is just a flavor accent.
Pretty soon I'll work up enough courage to do some shopping at the cheese booth...