It has been glorious weather here for days now – good weather for August in the UK, and I’m told it’s unusually hot for Paris too. I’ve even started to tan slightly, and would probably be bright red if it wasn’t for sun cream.
Yesterday’s cooking class was brilliant. There were four other students, all Americans of different ages, and the class was taught by a man from the South-West of France. He was incredibly knowledgable and took us around all the different types of shop in the market: the cheese shop, where we bought five different cheeses to try; the fish shop, where after great discussion the others selected mussels and scallops; the butchers, where we saw whole rabbits (it’s illegal to sell them without the head, because of a former tendency to pass off cats as rabbits) and pigs’ heads, amongst other delights. One of the men told me I was very brave for going into the butchers shop, but I tried to view it as an intellectual interest and not consider what I was actually seeing… One thing you can say about French butchers shops is that they do not sugar-coat things; it was abundantly clear what animal you were buying.
Then we bought fruit and vegetables and herbs to go with the menu, which was drawn up on the go by democratic vote. I was a bit concerned that I’d be eating side salads while everyone else ate duck and mussels and scallops, but actually the sauteed fennel with tomato and orange dressing, the asparagus with mashed potato and celeriac, the five types of cheese, and the almond and poached pear tart, left me absolutely stuffed! I’ll definitely be recreating some of the things we cooked, particularly the potato and celeriac mash which was really good.
After the class, which lasted for SIX HOURS, all of us went to Sacre Coeur together and looked around. It’s smaller than Notre Dame but I think I prefer it, despite the heaving crowds. The view was spectacular from the outside – you could see all across Montmatre, which is mostly out of sight from the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.
Today I didn’t end up going to Versailles, as Anne realised she had already agreed to do something else and I didn’t feel like going alone. Instead, I saw Morning Glory which was very funny, and then went to the Jardin du Luxembourg to read and got told off for sitting on the wrong piece of grass (overwhelming sense that I had somehow teleported back to Cambridge – especially since it looks quite a bit like Christ’s Pieces in places).
Now I’m considering my options: do I do the sensible thing and pack, or do I play on the Sims 2 and/or watch a film? Three guesses which I’m leaning towards most…