Owed to Mammary Glands

“(…) to be the wide blue merged with the mother’s breast, sublime emptiness.”  Rumi


I am once again thrown out of sleep a bit too early for it to be useful. My solution has always been to heat up some milk, nature’s tranquilizer, so here I am sipping my warm milk. That and a bit to eat is often enough to lull my body back to sleep. Do we ever really grow up? Comfort in the middle of the night – Mama’s warm body inside and out.

What other country has devoted themselves so passionately to the development of a product from the female mammary gland?

Some five hundred types of cheese, each a product of a region and a history of attention to taste. And so many other types of milk products, a lot of which I had never heard of Wine, bread and cheese -really the most amazing of French foods.

I heard an expression the other day. We were talking about travel and a man called it changer de cuisine – to try other kitchens or kinds of cooking. In English we cook in the kitchen: space, activity, two separate words. In French, they are one and the same. The attention to food is  remarkable.

Surprisingly, the kitchen in most apartments that I’ve seen here are tiny galley spaces. At home in Québec, life centres around the kitchen – the party always gathers around the kitchen table. So it is no surprise to find that one of the completely unique extras supplied to my studio is the luxury of a small, round, white table and four chairs. The kitchens in La Cité are so small, I can stand in the middle and touch all the walls and almost all four at once. I have a two-burner hot plate, a crum-filled, burn-stained toaster oven from the eighties maybe and a bar-sized fridge. There is an aluminum sink and countre and I have to keep the garbage pail placed high on one of my three shelves, otherwise the mice wake me up with their noisy feasts.

Here, like many other places in this work-crazed world, there is less and less time taken for cooking at home. I have seen a lot of prepared food in the grocery markets, but most of France still frequents the local markets, buying their food directly from the producers. The cafés are always full and now as the cold weather advances and with the indoor-smoking ban hitting even France, a new phenomenon compliments the customary row of tables and chairs lining the fronts of restaurants -tall gas heaters. The devotion to eating outdoors and to smoking is truly remarkable. All passers-by have the experience, desired or not!

I can crawl back into my warm bed – yes still warm because Paul is here! This is our last week in Paris. Friday we fly back to Montreal.