Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Home is where you want to be

It's our last night here and an early one, since we need to finish packing and get ready for our ride to the airport tomorrow morning. We're both feeling a bit under the weather, it's raining and we had to turn down a dinner with some of our favorite people at one of our favorite places because we just couldn't manage a 10:00 pm reservation tonight.

Instead we had an early meal at l'Epigramme, a tiny place with good food that's been getting a lot of attention in the foodie world. We were seated next to an elderly man eating alone who told us that he had lost most of his sight and couldn't read the menu so the proprietor reads it to him. "He knows what I like," he said.

Towards the end of our meal he began to tell us his story: his father had come to Paris from Russia in the early years of the 20th century and made a career for himself obtaining and selling difficult-to-find books from Russia. He and his brother had continued the business and sold regularly to university libraries (including most branches of the University of California) and even to the Library of Congress. He was particularly proud of this last achievement, that he could get things they could not. The bookdealer was born, had lived and worked his entire life in the same second floor apartment around the corner from the restaurant. This was his quartier and he couldn't imagine leaving it. "Although" he added, "I have some trouble with my lungs and the two flights of stairs is a problem. But how could I leave?"

It's things like this that remind us what a special place Paris is. Even when it's raining and we're going home.

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