Authors and journalists Patricia Wells and Ann Mah are as down-to-earth as dandelions--something these culinary divas could appreciate--sauteed with lardons fumés (and a glass of Mas des Brun rosé bien sûr!)
la bibliothèque (bih-blee-oh-tek)
Confession: I still mix up the terms bibliothèque and librairie, but une librairie--no matter how misleading name--is still a book store as we noted here.
Audio File & Example Sentence: Will try to update--as soon as Jean-Marc finished his vineyard chores!
A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse
When I realized my train arrived in Paris's Gare de Lyon at 5pm--not long before the exciting book event--I doubted there would be time to do more than drop off my bag at my hosts' apartment on Rue du Cherche-Midi. I had hoped to arrive early to the American Library and score good seats at the author talk featuring Patricia Wells and Ann Mah!
"Don't worry, we have plenty of time," Robin said, showing me to her guest room. Take off those heels and come have a little snack. Did I prefer salé or sucré? my hostess quizzed, and when I saw the plate of artfully arranged fruit--framboises, clementines, and myrtilles--the choice was fastoche!
"Have you met John before?" Robin asked, as I stood in the hallway studying a charming and familiar face.
Had we met? Or was the internet playing tricks on me again? Had I seen so many pictures of Robin's cheri--on Facebook and through photo-sharing--that I couldn't distinguish between the real and a virtual meeting?
Heureusement, the same doubts seemed to be plaguing my host--who quickly broke the embarrassing spell by sharing kisses on both cheeks (i.e. on a fait la bise).
After the raspberries and blueberries and kisses we were now one hour away from the big event! Were we sure to make it on time?
"Will we take the metro?" I hinted, as Robin dressed for the event (putting on her belt with the gold panther buckle). Quelle question. Of course my hostess would get us there. In leopard time! If God created a guardian angel to help travelers navigate Paris in all her complexity, that ange (with panther accents) would be Robin. She knows all the shortcuts, whether it's getting from point A to point B--or getting a good bite to eat!
As we sped towards the 7th arrondissment, Robin lavished compliments on our driver. UBER is the best company and the drivers are as charming and helpful as this young man. Our cabbie lit up, delighted by the attention, and he laughed as Robin shared disaster stories regarding the competition (like the time one Parisian cabbie refused to clear his lunch off the passenger seat, preferring to keep his sandwich and coffee intact and turn away passengers who needed a lift!).
Arriving smack in front of the American Library, the historic bibliothèque was deceivingly silent. Little did we know that behind the front door the place was buzzing with excitement and the seats were already being snapped up.
It seemed we were early so Robin suggested we get a more substantial bite to eat. Just around the corner from the library a bistro happened to have the most delicious and fluffy croque-monsieurs we'd ever tasted!
Still unaware of the crowds that were forming inside the library, we took a leisurely moment to compliment our waiter on the food we'd just eaten. But what was the French word for "fluffy". Légère? aéré? I suggested, deciding to inform him of the cozy English word instead: Fluffy! We say fluffy!
By the time we entered the library I was feeling like a fluff-brain, duped by the silence that had fooled us a half-hour before. But Robin didn't waste time with regrets--she beelined it to the seating area and charmed someone into switching places--so as to free up two side-by-side seats. Robin then gave those seats to her husband and me, and grabbed a stepping stool for herself.
In addition to the fascinating speakers, there was a host of interesting characters in the audience! I recognized Karen Fawcett from Bonjour Paris and Ann and Kirk of Music and Markets and Lisa Taylor Huff of The Bold Soul and photographer Meredith Mullins. And, studying this picture (swiped from Ann Mah's Facebook page) I wonder was that Lindsey Tramuta sitting only a row behind me? Zut, I didn't see her at the time!
But, as you can see, if many of the local personalities blended in incognito, it's because all eyes were on the speakers who mesmerized the room!
I put on my glasses and listened as Charles Truehart, the American Library's director, honored the speakers in a warm introduction, and he also took the time to encourage readers to support this beloved library!
We were in for a treat as Patricia Wells began, using every bit of her journalism know-how to familiarize us with Ann Mah. We learned about Ann's first book, Kitchen Chinese, and about her go-to comfort meal: toast! (A confession that caused the guy behind me to "Huh?" aloud. I guessed he needed to read Ann's book. Then he'd be chuckling like me :-)
When it was Ann's turn to interview Patricia, Ann admitted to using a bit of crowdsourcing to come up with some good questions. Ann's avowal was so heartening! It was good to know that even seasoned journalists, like Ann, are stumped for words when facing their heros.
And by the time Ann finished her interview, Patricia Wells--lover of slow food and clearly someone with a warm and welcoming joie de vivre--had become my hero too!
To respond to this post, click here. Did you locate me in the picture above? Were you by chance at this event? Or are you familiar with these authors? Which books are your favorites? Add to today's post by sharing feedback here.
P.S. Among the local personalities in the audience, was Marjorie Williams, author of Markets of Paris. She wrote a wonderful write up of Ann and Patricia's talk, here. And we'll see her again soon... when I tell you about the Champagne Book Signing at Robin's--where I had the honor of joining Ann Mah to talk about writing and France!
salé = salty
sucré = sugary
une framboise = raspberry
une myrtille = blueberry
clementine = little orange
fastoche = easy, easy-peasy
heureusement = happily
on a fait la bise = we kissed-greeted
Two places to stay in postcard pretty France:
“La Trouvaille”--a true find in Provence! Affordable vacation rental in this beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet.
New rental in Provence! La Baume des Pelerins, in Sablet--spacious, comfortable the perfect place to return to after a busy day’s sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.
Good to have a guardian angel who knows the Paris transit system (thanks, Robin!)--or I'd panick, taking any apparent option. Scoot over, leafy commuters, make room for me! Now, how to say "Hit it!" in French?
To comment on today's post, click here and many thanks for reading!
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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi