meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8b08da541f8a920e6 Marie Z Johnston: Paris XIeme - Where It All Began

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Paris XIeme - Where It All Began

My grandfather, Leon Briet, lived in the 11th Arrondissement of Paris in a large, rambling apartment.  This was the same apartment in which my mother and her two brothers grew up. He and my grandmother, Marie, had lived there since shortly after they were married at the end of WWI.  It was a large flat with an unusually large kitchen; lots of cooking took place in that kitchen not to mention the eating and laughing in the dining room across the hall.

Pépe, as he was known to me, took great joy in doing the shopping for lunch on Sunday and I took great joy in going with him. Walking out onto the street through the massive entry doors we would make a bee line to the Rue Oberkamf; an elegant, well dressed man hand in hand with his 'petite fille d'Amerique' (grand daughter from America) visiting certain shops on our way to the Marché Popincourt.  The merchants loved and respected him because Pépe knew a thing or two about cheese, melons, peaches and tomatoes. Never would he buy until he knew the delicacy in question was at it's perfect moment.  Then we ate a lot of it until the moment passed. Pépe left us when I was young yet his influence remains.

Once, when I was around 6 or 7, I was watching Pépe on a beautiful Sunday morning tying his tie. The memory is vivid. His shirt was sky blue, the double windows were open over looking the roof tops of Cabourg (a Normandy beach town we called home every summer) the church bells were ringing. It was a glorious day.

I asked  "Pépe, why are the bells ringing?" 
"Ah."  he answered,
"It is the church calling believers to Mass"
"Shouldn't we go then" I replied
Pépe was silent for a moment, then, with a twinkle in his blue eyes he said
"Nous prions a table ma petite "

  "We worship at the table little one"    
And thus it has been for me ever since.

A Bientot,


wendy lyn said...

Love this!!!!

Zabie aka "Marie" said...

Thank you Wendy Lyn...

Jennifer said...

what a lovely tribute!

Randy said...

The Market Maven is a true gem in Paris. Since she is both American and French, she knows the best of 2-worlds. Her fluency with the French language coupled with her knowledge of the Paris markets and the amazing produce and products is not only entertaining, but enlightening. And, if that wasn't enough, having worked as a Chef and restaurateur for many years, you will have a gastronomic feast with your "market-finds". I highly recommend this jewel in Paris.

Anonymous said...