1. Sunday afternoon I was walking back to my apartment. I had taken a long slow rambling walk home, and as I was cresting the hill near my building, a person on roller blades whizzed past me. This is not altogether unusual, as you see everyone from business men with briefcases, to police with night sticks on skates in Paris, but he was soon followed by another, than another, then I was suddenly overtaken by several hundred roller skaters. I exaggerate not, literally hundreds of people – of all ages, mind you — skated into my street. I stepped aside to let the pastime-ing Parisians past me by, when I noted that there where “staff” members on hand supervising the Roller Brigade. That is correct: in Paris there are people actually employed to organize the Sunday promenade à roller for adults, children, and elderly alike.
2. The other morning I was taking my jog around the Jardin du Luxembourg when I saw a peculiar sight. There was an adult peddling his scooter around. Once again, not unusual, but he had set up traffic cones and was actually running scooter drills. Scooter drills. And what is more, there were seven identical scooters leaned against the fence near him, which means, he would soon be giving scooter lessons. Yes, scooter lessons.
3. I was riding the train to work when I saw something truly tragic: a business man near me pulled out some sort of pop tart to eat breakfast on his way to work. This goes against everything I live about the French approach to dining, and everything the French like to think about themselves and their high standards for consumption. This man’s pop-tart marked a rupture in the sacrament that is French dining protocol. Just as American’s put medical warnings on cigarettes, the French plaster notices on ads for everything from chocolates, to pasta, to fast food, that say “For your health, avoid eating too much sugar, salt, or grease,” and “Avoid snacking between meals,” and” Exercise daily.” Maybe it is a dying battle they are fighting. No matter how many scooter drills they do in the gardens, no matter how many hills the roller blade, if the culture becomes one where breakfast means a pop-tart on the morning commute, it is a lost cause. I can say that as someone who comes from a country where we work out, then reward ourselves with a Starbucks double mocha with a shot of vanilla and a muffin – but skim milk in the mocha, of course.
But then again, if anything could cause the French to fight back, it would be an assault on the sanctity of cuisine.