_In memory, to Sam
A walk to remember
I had a friend, he passed away few years ago.
I used to visit him in Paris, the time I was a traveler of the world.
He was a tenant of an underground resto ( a restaurant, in French), one of the Caves-basements, in the environs of St Germain Des Prés, that had the name of La Commanderie, at la Rue Du Four. It was a drop-by heaven, after-hours show, for artists, playwrights, poets and celebrities, friends to the owner, a lady that had some highness blue blood in her veins. Hence the name of the restaurant.
He was the cook, the chief, maitre d’ho, and the entertainer, all in one at the same time, he was also poet and artist, (à-ses-heures, at times) or when inspiration strikes. It was no surprise that you might encounter a celebrity or just have a glimpse of him or her, hanging out at a table in a corner with friends. The same as you see a celebrity dropping her laundry at Soho, New York, but much more closer. In that, the tables was just a few, and the place was exiguous; that what gave it an air of intimacy, a convivial atmosphere, a continuous feast, where big laughers burst, now and then and cheers, of glasses of vine tinkling, and you are part of it; you have to squeeze yourself a bit to Elbow between chair and table, without protocol.
The tables and chairs-benches were rustic, well-worn by the time patina, the stuff you find usual at Pottery Barns, and Gracious Homes. There was a fresco on one of the walls of the Cave-basement that represented an a charge of cavalry, or knights, that he drew with a twig of charcoal he picked up from the standingstone oven of the tiny kitchen, at a corner of the resto.
The menu, was handwritten on a parchment paper, aged artistically. You can read : http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/memory-menu/
Memory on the menu
À la carte
œufs Du Berry.
Soupe à l’onignion.
Plat du jour: very simple, just ask sam
dessert: pick yours
So, in that time, when I swung by, before I went to the airport, I used to pass by La Pécherie, the fish market wholesale, at the harbor of Algiers, at dawn, just when the fishermen returned with their barks full to the rims from a night sortie asea, to pickup a ( Boruche,) a wooden round crate of shrimps, on my way before I embarked for Paris. That is, without forgetting the indispensable bottles of wines; a red, Côteaux-De-Medea, a wine rosé, Cuvée Du President, a white wine blanc Sidi_ Brahim, and that would be the Plat – du – Jour menu for that night, after my arrival to Paris.
Then just as I stepped in, still at the doors threshold with my packet of chock-full of shrimps in my hands, while the word was already spread, and like by charm wand, du Beau-Monde was gathering at your table, at La Commanderie, without warning. The way I was familiar with those people of arts, and from divers horizons, it was moments of wonders, your never expect them happening in your life. In that honor, I was given the place of a the seat guru. I have sat at a table with Atahualpa Yupanki, and Idir with his guitar at hand, improvising songs just for us, and many others artists, poets and singers I had forgotten their names, but not their friendliness, and simplicity.
later in the night, we used go for a walk in the streets of Paris, after closing, to end up at Les-Deux-Magots Café, Le Village, or La Sorbonne, to finish the soirée. Paris was then, the gathering of all the diaspora of all the artists in exile.
One night, we walked up to the Seines River, which was not too far from the resto, to drop a bottle within it a message. He told me that it is a romantic way to sent a message since it was too far, for a pigeon-voyageur to cross the Mediterranean Sea, then as the River goes to the sea, it carries the bottle, and with the help of the currants of waters, and some favorable winds it would end up someday in good hands, of friends I have out there. The paper, It is said: (Ya R’ayeh, to Paris don’t forget to pass by…the address…) It means (you, traveler to Paris… and so on)
I was an angler then, a hobby for passing time stress-free, after fight. I went one day fishing on the rocky coast of Algiers…. Sometimes, I had a good catch at the end of lines, and most of the time, I return home without, but at my surprise, that day I had a good one; the mailman delivered me a letter with a parchment in it.
The bottle, I still have it on the mantel of my chimney, a gift from him: the one he didn’t drop in the waters that night we walked to the Seines River…The things we treasure, among others.