Friday, February 11, 2011
On shellfish and the selfish
Paris in early February. Cold, clear and sunshine arriving by late morning. The whole city has a half-awake feel to it. Somnambulistic shopkeepers powered down, the lights in their eyes barely glinting. But the restaurateurs know that people have got to eat, especially the tourists who have come on cheap breaks and the business people who have to be here for the expositions. So they are zappy and chatty, unless you donâ€™t speak French when, I am told, they turn an epaule froid and offer the service of a tundra-ready robot. Since I can converse at a level which manages the every day but falls short of the philosophical we can exchange mild jokes and gain the security of acceptable tables. All of which is a lead-in to a half dozen oysters in the Mascotte in lower Montmartre. They were as good as any I have had. Large and succulent, bedded in icy salty water, their taste so indefinably faint, their texture so softly enticing that it is an almost not-there flavour. Compared to the full range of gastronomic tastes available they are off the scale at one end where, say, three day marinated boar is off the other. Thatâ€™s my spectrum anyway.
On another note I see that Manchester has closed all but one of its nineteen public toilets, some of which have been monuments to Victorian architecture. It is happening everywhere and now everyone runs the gauntlet of getting into pubs in the evening, using their amenities and exiting without buying anything. At the same time libraries are being closed. We will all have to have in-built brain chips, catheters and colostomy bags if this continues. Privacy in downloading everything from the word to the turd is the future. Personal rather than public conveniences.