A Moveable Feast of Goats


I’ve been writing about my trip to Paris recently, and because I have a copy sitting around, I picked up Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, his memoir of living in Paris as part of the American expatriate circle of writers in the 1920s.

I’m not all the way through it, but I happened to wander over to the Wikipedia page (linked above), where I learned it was published after his death, and been edited by his fourth wife. Apparently Hemingway returned to the memoir shortly before his death, and it included a lengthy apology to Hadley, his first wife (which got cut).

Not only that, “literary critic J. Gerald Kennedy of Louisiana State University pointed out the artificially heroic nature of Hemingway’s self-portrait in A Moveable Feast. He contrasted it with the sexual ambiguity and fascination with androgyny found in Hemingway’s unfinished novel, The Garden of Eden.”

Not only that, I found another lengthy piece about the memoir that appeared in the Huffington Post, which was written because Hemingway’s grandson was going to published a “restored edition.” It goes even further down the rabbit hole about the sad, sordid family history, and how the various wives and children of wives might have affected the books’ edits.

Wow. I’m not even going to weigh in on that. Instead, I got about fifty pages in, and found this:

The goatherd came up the street blowing his pipes and a woman who lived on the floor above us came out to the sidewalk with a big pot. The goatherd chose one of the heavy-bagged, black milk-goats and milked her into the pot while his dog pushed the others onto the sidewalk. The goats looked around, turning their necks like sightseers.

Goats! Cruising around Paris! Sure, it was 80-plus years ago, but still. When I was in Paris, I saw a lot of cars and tour buses. But no goats.

Shooting the Stranded Balloon Rodents

The other day I blogged about the difficulties of capturing a certain blue heron, because on the days I see him, I have only a crap cell phone camera with me — and when I bring a better camera, he’s not there.

So it seems only fitting to describe the opposite situation, when the only reason I got an interesting photo was because I happened to have a camera handy. In this instance I was flying home from Paris, and  I wanted a camera in my carry-on bag so I could take pictures of airplane snack foods — which makes more sense if you read the blog post.

(I certainly didn’t intend to shoot photos of the airport. The terminal at Roissy/Charles de Gaulle was nice as far as terminals go, but I have to agree with Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, who said, “It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase ‘As pretty as an Airport’ appear.”

But before I got on the plane I was in the airport terminal at Roissy/Charles de Gaulle, waiting to check my baggage, when I happened to look up.

stranded rodents

Balloon refugees on the airport ceiling at Roissy/Charles de Gaulle

I have no idea how Mickey and Minnie got stranded up there, or why there’s a whole flock of them. Maybe the Balloon Rodent Liberation Front managed to free them of some child’s clutches, only to have them snag on the ceiling. Mabye it’s an obscure EuroDisney promo.

As the French say, on ne sait jamais.

Pastry Hunt, 2.0

In the comments to my blog post “A Tale of Two Countries, and their Snack Foods,” one commenter asked, “Would you be able to tell us where in Paris you had that memorable pain au chocolat?”

Good question — and I’m using good question the way a politician does, when s/he doesn’t have an answer. When I travel I lean on a guidebook for things like hours, directions and tips, but I also do a lot wandering around on foot, and tend to eat at whatever place looks appetizing.

I learned this tip from my cousin. We were rambling through Seattle one day in search of lunch, and I had my nose in my guidebook. He suggested winging it, and we ended up eating in Chinatown at a place called Uncle Ball’s. The food was just okay, but eating at a place with such a bizarre name was one of the highlights of our trip.

But I digress. I didn’t actually know the name or exact location of the patisserie in Paris, but I did know it’s general location, since I had gone to the Saturday produce market at Place de la Bastille:

Then I wandered down a side street, went by a good-looking patisserie, and bought goodies there. I also remembered it was right around the corner from a Starbucks.

Thanks to the awesome power of Google (and I mean awesome in both senses of the word), it’s alarmingly easy to retrace my steps. I didn’t know the name of the side street,  so I simply mapped the locations of Starbucks nearby.

Place de la Bastille

Detail from a map of Paris, showing Place de la Bastille

From that I knew the Bucky’s I was thinking of was on Rue de la Roquette. I used Google Street View to check out the street corner a half-block away and then panned around, and … voilà:

There’s your answer: La Tradition du Pain, at Rue Duval/Rue Saint Sabin. If you paste the store’s name into Google, you can even see some Italian guy’s photo of the display cases on Flickr.

His photo caption sums up my thoughts pretty nicely: Aspettavo il giorno successivo solo per fare di nuovo colazione lì sperimentando altre squisitezze!

(P.S. – Don’t read Italian? Try dropping the sentence into Google Translate.)