Divergences (letter from Paris)

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Date: Summer 2014
From: The Review of Contemporary Fiction(Vol. 34, Issue 2)
Publisher: Review of Contemporary Fiction
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 2,208 words

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I got off the bus at Châtelet intending to cross the Seine on foot. Paris looked splendid at that hour. The sun was setting amid a décor worthy of one of the great Impressionist painters. The lights of The Mirage quivered on the dark water, trailing playfully behind the vessel as it made its way towards the majestic arches of the Pont au Change. I would have liked to go down on to the deck for a moment and hold a glass of champagne to let myself grow drunk on the fascinating atmosphere of that insanely tantalising world. But I quickly had to abandon that flight of fancy, since my sons were already waiting for me at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter, where we planned to eat seafood that evening.

It may seem strange to you, but the whole range of dishes on the menu at that restaurant-mussels, oysters, prawns, lobster-are in perfect keeping with our Eastern European tastes, as if the Sarmatian Sea had not yet drained away into the depths of the earth and the fishes swam even today above the Plain of Soroca.

You ought to know that we have not had the same problem as Emil Goran, who did not discover the taste of food until he arrived in Paris. With great skill and devotion, my mother took care to cultivate in us-in me and then in my own children-the pleasure of tasty eating. After she passed away, I painstakingly had to reconstruct a number of recipes that were benchmarks within the family, in order to remind my sons what it meant for there to be a woman around who could, at a pinch, cook delicious food. But that was not the case today: I would be savouring the pleasure of being served the food I ate.

No doubt you are aware that the French are currently the best in the world when it comes to culinary matters. French gastronomy has thrashed its Italian rival, leaving it with a swollen lip and macaroni stuck between its teeth. It has taken up comfortable residence as part of UNESCO heritage. Voilà! And may my compatriots who have emigrated to The Boot forgive me, but French foie gras is clearly tastier than Italian pizza, even if the latter is cheaper and much handier. Let me take this opportunity to reveal a secret that perhaps you know already: the elixir of youth that mankind has been desperately seeking since the beginning of time has proven to lie hidden in a well-stuffed French duck. I read somewhere that the inhabitants of a town in northern France (don't ask me which, as I can't remember) are the longest-lived in the world. And do you know why? Because every morning they eat a slice of bread à la campagne, spread with duck grease and copiously sprinkled with garlic juice.

Duck was also behind the recent fierce controversy in the French Government regarding pension reform. After you feed him with lard, raw liver...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A487928328