My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

Beth Kaplan logo

stuffing her face

The newspapers are back. According to “Le Monde,” it had to do with the distributors and the printers; the newspaper apologized, saying, “Le Monde deplores these actions which can only further weaken the written press sector and put its future in danger.”

So I was wrong – there was nothing cavalier about this strike. When I went out this morning, there was chanting and screeching down the street – about a hundred of the “badly housed” had gathered in front of a government housing office, to protest very loudly. The police were standing around with transparent shields, but they looked bored.
Il y’a toujours quelquechose. There’s always something.
This morning, a long metro ride to the other side of the city for a free cooking lesson; I’d read about it on a website listing things to do in Paris. Turned out the free lesson cost 20 euros and lasted only half an hour; classes were free on the opening weekend only. However, I found out we’d get to eat what we made. A group of young people have opened Kitchen Studio, a small restaurant that also sells prepared food, gives these half hour courses through the week in a large snazzy teaching kitchen, and will arrange for private parties to have a cooking lesson and then dine together on what they’ve cooked. They’re even set up to film events for TV, if need be.
Seven of us were handed white plastic aprons, told to wash our hands, and then pointed to our individual stations. It was all ridiculously easy, as of course a recipe completed in half an hour could only be. We made a sauce vierge: learned how to use just the outer part of the tomato and dice it, cut up green onion, garlic, olives and basil and mixed them in olive oil, then we scored the skin side of a filet of dorade (chad) and grilled it on the huge central stove, and then reduced spinach in a great deal of butter. It wasn’t exactly Julia Child. We ate grilled dorade covered with the raw sauce accompanied by the spinach. It was interesting to see the place, the group experience was fun – the others all live or work nearby and pop in regularly on their lunch hour to learn to cook and then to eat – and lunch was delicious.
This evening, more dining: I was invited chez my friend Annie and her husband Paolo. For those of you not with me last year, one day I was standing at a bus stop and found out that all the transportation in Paris had just been shut down by a midwives’ march. Annie saw me looking lost, offered to help me find my way, and after we’d walked for half an hour, talking all the way, she asked me in for a cup of tea. She’s an editor for and assistant to Jean-Paul Sartre’s daughter, helping her compile his unpublished work, and her Italian husband Paolo is a film studies teacher. At dinner, I told them about my fantasy of someone giving me an apartment, where would I chose to live, and they looked at me as if I were mad: is there a decision here? Where else but Paris?
One of their good friends, I learned, is Jean-Francois Menard, who translates Harry Potter into French. What a difficult job that must be, I must find one and take a look. How to translate muggles? Quiddich? Horcrux??
We sat in their dining-room, lined floor to ceiling with books, and ate Italian-Jewish food cooked by Paolo, his mother’s recipes, he said – pasta in a kind of fish sauce and an artichoke omelette, made with fresh artichokes peeled and grilled. Delicious. And gariguette strawberries with cream. Even the bread was especially good. They used to live near here and told me where the best bakery is on the rue Mouffetard; in case I couldn’t find it, Paolo took me for a tour of the street on Google maps. While we were at the computer, he couldn’t resist showing me a few short films of his granddaughter, who is, it’s true, amazingly cute. He showed her at barely 3 singing the Beatles’ “Michelle.” There were about a hundred more on his computer, so I made a graceful exit.
No galleries, no major excursions … pas grand chose today. Some days, a girl just has to veg. The only thing that continues, no matter what, is eating. It’s midnight now, and I’m still full.
PS. I’ve discovered on a website that Harry Potter has been translated into 65 languages, including Welsh (Harri Potter a Maen yr Athronydd), Macedonian, Khmer, Greenlandic, ancient Greek, Occitan (Harry Potter e la peira filosofau), low German, West Frisian, Basque and Afrikaans. What a phenomenon! “Muggles” in 65 languages, with # 66, Scots Gaelic, to come this summer.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.


Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.


I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.


Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


Juliet in Paris, Spain and Beyond
Juliet is a Canadian who’s lived for decades in Paris and writes about her travels and the many things that interest her.