My Breakfast in Paris

Eugène Atget – Pont Marie. Wikimedia Commons.

This morning, I made myself French Toast. I followed a recipe for it that I found in Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. Even though I had to divide all of the ingredients by four, and math is not my best subject, my Toast turned out beautifully. I topped it with maple syrup from Vermont. I also made coffee and added heavy cream. Then, as I sat at our kitchen table, eating my breakfast, I took a trip—to France.


I was sitting at a table, one just large enough for two people, outdoors at a café in Paris overlooking the Seine. It had rained in the early morning but had stopped now. The air was fresh and moved lightly through the branches of the trees along the river. When my waiter came to my table, I ordered “pain perdu” and café crème. I spoke perfect French, with just the faintest hint of an English accent.

As I was waiting for my order, an elegantly dressed French gentleman asked if he might join me. I said, “Of course.” As he sat down, he placed a book on the table containing the poetry of Ali Ahmad Said Esber. “Oh,” I said, “Adonis is an exceptional poet.” He passed me the book. I perused it as he gave his order to the waiter. I handed him back his book saying:

“Even the wind wants
to become a cart
pulled by butterflies.”

Adonis, from Celebrating Childhood, translated by Khaled Mattawa

“That is,” he said, “one my favorites.”

Our orders arrived, and we ate in silence. When we finished, our conversation turned to philosophy. What deep things we spoke of, life, death, God, and Plato, that greatest of all the philosophers. We paid our bill and said goodbye to each other.

“I enjoyed our breakfast,” I said.

“Next time,” he replied, perhaps, we can dine in…well,” he said, “let’s not make plans.”

The rain returned. I opened my umbrella. Not wanting to go back to my room quite yet, I sauntered along the banks of the river and recalled the lines:

“I was born in a village,
small and secretive like a womb.
I never left it.
I love the ocean not the shores.”

Adonis, from Celebrating Childhood, translated by Khaled Mattawa

I finished my French Toast, rinsed the dishes, and placed them in the sink. I wonder what I should fix for breakfast tomorrow. There are so many choices, so many places I long to visit.

All the best!

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