January 6, 2009

The Fondue Incident

Sorry for the lengthy absence, everybody; I have been working like an absolute fiend lately.

While I was gone, I did a few things. I ate some good sandwiches, opened a Christmas present or three, and, most noteworthy, I went on my honeymoon. We went to Paris, as had been our plan for the past several months. There's a lot to say here between the sights, the people, and the wine. However, there's one anecdote that's both horribly unfair to the French and very amusing, so you know I'm starting here.

On the night of New Year's Day, we were out in the Latin Quarter, checking out the Sorbonne and trying to find this restaurant we'd read about. Sadly, the restaurant was closed, but there's so much life and activity there on the Left Bank that we just knew we could find a great place anyway. We looked around for a while and after a bit, we saw a nice looking place that was filled with people who don't speak English. I think that in most cases when you're traveling internationally, you want to avoid the restaurants where everyone is really familiar with English, because it means you're probably in a Burger King. Find the weird places crammed with locals instead, altough this little story may scare you away from that.

Anyway, we sit down to eat and we're ooohing and aaaahing over the restaurant, which was full of great French dudes with interesting mustaches and floppy berets. As we're sitting there, this smaller, older lady gets seated next to us. I can tell just by looking at her that she had some mileage on her. She looked a little like she'd had 10 disastrous marriages and, as a result, only wanted to smoke cigarettes and scowl at people from now on. As soon as she sits down, she takes out a clove of garlic from her purse, cuts it up, and eat it. What does this signify? I have no idea, but it strikes me as weird.

Cutting up garlic is a stinky enterprise, so she has to get up and wash her hands. While she's gone, Laura is goofing around with the camera, trying to capture the restaurant and the honeymoon and all of that. When the lady comes back, she sees the camera and says dramatically, "Please no pictures of me, I want to eat in peace!" Okay, she's now established herself as someone who both cuts her own garlic and is a bit of a prima donna. Anyway, we both find the self involvement kind of funny and proceed to our meal.

A few minutes later, we get this goat cheese fondue served to us. Laura, for some reason, is big into pictures of me with cheese, and so she wants me to do some wacky pose next to the fondue for a photograph. We talk about this, we make it clear that she's photographing me, and then I proceed to strike the pose and eat the fondue before it's ready, thus scalding my tongue a little bit. The older lady looks over right as we're finishing this and I kind of nod at her and say, "Wow, that's hot!"

Here is where things get crazy. She looks at both of us with this slightly deranged look in her eye. "That was hot, huh?" she asks. Her English is good. I nod in response. She then leans in a little bit and says, "You do that again and I'll throw that [the fondue] in your effing face!" Only she didn't say effing. As weird as that was, imagine trying to convey that in my 1st-grader French to the waiter, so he knows how serious we then were about moving tables.

I kind of felt like the world at large would want to know exactly what might happen if we took another picture, but out of deference to, you know, my skin and eyes and whatnot, we moved tables quickly. Everyone else was nice, but she was the most memorable.

Posted by Cody at 10:12 PM