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Paris: A Gastronomical, Olfactory, and Optical Feast

I feel like a glutton.  But Jasmine has been tracking our steps each day.  They’ve ranged between a low of 15,787 steps to a high of 20,376 steps.  That said, we’ve decided to make a lifestyle change.  We’ve come to the conclusion that we’re not eating enough cheese.  Large quantities of cheese make everything better.  Take our grilled ham and cheese sandwich, for example.  The French take on it is the croque monsieur, a ham and cheese sandwich broiled with gooey cheese on TOP of the sandwich.  It makes the sandwich infinitely better.  And get this–there are foot long hotdogs on the street that must have a half pound of cheese obscuring the dog!  We haven’t tried it. I’m not tempted.

We managed to find a cooking store recommended by David Lebovitz, an American chef living in Paris.  What treasures I found.  Some caramel salt! (Wouldn’t that be yummy in buttery shortbread?!) And ground pistachios.  I want to recreate the amazing chocolate pistachio combination I had in a pastry.  (Maybe chocolate pistachio brownies?!) And chestnut cream in a tube!  I plan to use it in the whipped cream for Thanksgiving pies.

I’ve made another discovery. My olfactory organs can be as “full” as my stomach.  We had a tour at the Fragonard Perfumerie.  Even Kyle admitted he enjoyed it.  One thing always disturbs me when I learn about how they make perfume, however.  It’s the “low notes” or fixatives that are added to make the scent last.  The perfume makers are careful to say there is no inhumane treatment of animals in the manufacture of their perfume but it’s possible the fixative could come from an organ of an animal (close to its anus, for example)  if it’s already dead.  YIKES.  It makes me feel better about buying the cheaper colognes that have a smaller percentage of the scent!

These lavish perfumeries are all along the streets of Paris and it’s a pleasure to pop in and try different fragrances.  But since we’ve been doing it all week my nose is beginning to rebel.

My eyes, however, never tire of being bombarded with beauty.  Our visit to the Palais Garnier, built for the Paris Opera from the 1860s-1870s, was a visual feast.  Jasmine doesn’t know why it’s not at the top of everyone’s list!  It’s over-the-top opulence is mesmerizing.  There was such a fuss about the Grand Salon when it was built that the Queen of Spain defied convention by entering the salon (women were supposed to receive guests in their boxes,  not mingle with the gentlemen in the Salon)!

We met a friend yesterday who is living in France.  Rochelle lives near the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Paris and the largest green space in the city.  So we had a lovely walk–after eating pastries, of course–that was absolutely enchanting.  Entering the cemetery was like entering a fairy tale village because the family mausoleums look like miniature houses! The filtered light through the abundance of trees was magical.  The remains of celebrated residents range from Jim Morrison and Chopin, to Edith Piaf and  Oscar Wilde.  I’m so glad Rochelle shared this charming walk with us.

And if you’re coming to the conclusion that the French have an indulgent lifestyle, I say “vive la France!”  I have noticed  distinctive chairs lining their beautiful green spaces–at the Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens–filled with Parisian residents who are living and loving the moment.  I hope to be the same.  AND keep my waistline intact!

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