Farmers On 'Rampage' Arrive
It was not quite warm enough for biére
News About the 'Café Metropole Club'
Paris:- Saturday, 4. March 2000:- Last Thursday's meeting started off very quietly with just Allan Pangborn and myself holding down the club's extensive area in the Café La Corona.
Fresh from the Salon de l'Agriculture the day before, we had a lot to think about, especially while discussing Metropole's possible Champagne label. To be accurate, it won't be Champagne - it will be sparkling wine, made in the style of 'champagne.'
I don't think it can be called 'Château Metropole.' Allan says he is going to build a shed to make it in, but we don't want to call it 'Lean-To Metropole' either. How does 'Café Metropole Club Sparkling Wine Plonk' sound?Last Thursday's Meeting
The other day, while eating breakfast and not listening to radio France-Info's report about the 'life of plants' - which is reported like the crucial stage of a horse race - I got a brilliant idea for a new feature to add to Metropole.
That was the other day. Today I remember I've forgotten it when is too late to do it. Darn! I am preoccupied with Paris' current beautiful cow and good food show.
Your club has a relationship to this because some 'virtual' members are farmers, and they are likely to turn up at the club meeting today. Paris is full of farmers and good food fans and their groupies.Chantal Leygonie demonstrates how to become a 'real' member of the club.
A 'real' charter club member has suggested I think up an agenda - of about 10 Paris topics - before each meeting. But just getting to the weekly meeting and being the club's half-baked secretary has already boosted me beyond my level of competence.
All the same, I have three topics for the farmers - because 'good food' is on everybody's minds these days. This is how I forget the other idea.
Allan has arrived before me. He tells me about how to be a club member - of other clubs - without actually attending any meetings. He makes it sound positive.
At 59 minutes into today's meeting the situation changes radically with the arrival of Kathleen and Chantal Leygonie. This is also when Patrick the club's waiter remembers he's forgotten to bring Allan a Bière de Mars - which is another grand feature of Paris that pops up around the time of the Salon de l'Agriculture.
Chantal is a Parisian. She was mentioned in Metropole before the club started - on the night when the statue of Liberty was re-illuminated after returning to Paris following a long holiday in Tokyo Bay. Chantal's husband did the laser light work on that job, and Kathleen is a laser-lady too.
We are getting cozy with all the drinks in place when there is a bit of an uproar in the café, caused by the arrival of the 'rampaging' farmers.
They have been by the café before today, so the patron is pretty excited that these guys - these farmers from Canada! - have come back - to the Café Metropole Club, which is having its meeting in the rear of his café. They must have made a big impression the first time they came through.
Actually, Edgar Ladouceur, is a long-time Metropole reader and frequent correspondent, who lives in Spencerville, Ontario - and he's been warning me about becoming a 'real' charter member for some time.Left to right: Edgar, Robert and Bill - taking a rampage break at the club.
With him are Robert Passmore, a real 'bio' farmer from St. Marys, also in Ontario; and Edgar's brother-in-law, Guillaume 'Bill' Richardson, who is also a farmer, from someplace in Miami, Florida, instead of Canada.
They had pâté for lunch, which went into overtime, and before that, they had cassoulet. For the uninitiated, cassoulet is a dish from the south of France, of which Heinz' 57 varieties of wieners and beans is a wisp of a replica.
Cassoulet is often distributed in large cans or sealed glass pots, but since it contains mutton, pork, goose and other heavy-duty ingredients, it makes the Heinz' version seem like tasteless diet wafers.
Why, I want to know, do farmers fly across the Atlantic to Paris for the Salon de l'Agriculture?
"For good food" they say in unison, adding, "Extremely top-quality products."
Oddly, none of the trio have heard of José 'Good Food' Bové and the Peasant's Confederation. But they are surfing on the same wave-length. They mention the oyster competition. They mention the five-year-old Calvados they discovered in Normandy. 'Arrgggh!' they say about this Calvados.
They also mention some five-minute-old distilled prune soup straight out of a travelling still that rattled their socks. 'Phweehough!' they say. "Armangnac is better because its grapes grow closer to the ground!"
They mention thin pizza, they mention wine bars; they want more restaurant information from Metropole - they want me to test-drive every eating hole in Paris.
Gradually it begins to occur to me that the Salon de l'Agriculture is only held once a year, because thousands of 747s are flying farmers into France and they are pouncing on its foodstuffs like locusts and eating everything in sight.
The way we are set up, without an agenda or seating plan, we are spread out too much for a group photo - and too much so for Allan to say anything about his adventures in the Champagne line of things, or for Chantal and Kathleen to tell any tales of the Paris markets.
And I, of course, can not say anything about Dr. Leslie's Glasgow specialty, deep-fried Mars bars. But so what?
The club has picked up four new members today, three of whom are going to have to declare theselves as overweight luggage when they fly back to start crossing off calendar-days until next year's salon.
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