I don’t know where I belong any more. What can I say? I am a citizen of the world. We landed yesterday morning from New York, and it was Bastille day. This means that nobody was working in France, but of course in London it was business as usual. Except that we all fell asleep on the sofa at some point.
I always feel a bit homesick on Bastille day. As in, a bit out of sync. There is no reason as to why I do, it’s just the way it is. In fact, it is not even clear what it is we French celebrate on 14th of July: is it the Storming of the Bastille on 14th of July of 1789 or the Fete de la Federation which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790? Nobody knows.
In order to get rid of the blues, I went to Brasserie Zedel to celebrate the 14th of July. They had invited me, and I had never been. To cut a long story short, Brasserie Zedel offers you a 3-course meal on Bastille day if you come wearing a beret and a stripy T-shirt. They do the same in January for the ‘galette des rois’ but you have to wear a crown. I felt a bit too old for this, and went with my LBD. They still invited me. Phew! Fashion faux pas averted.
I had fun. The food was typically French (the baguette was to die for), tasty, fresh and simple, and very reasonably priced without any compromise on quality. The desserts are great, and my ‘ile flottante’ reminded me of a sweet childhood memory (it’s just egg whites anyway, right?).
It was also incredibly funny to see a sea of berets and French flags. In fact, it felt a bit like traveling into the British psyche and understanding how they saw us French. It was all about mimes (we even saw Colombine), accordions, and a France I never knew existed. Was it really my home country?
I thought about this long and hard. Where was I exactly? Probably somewhere in Paris in the 1920s, as imagined by a British man. This meant that France was all about:
– men with a moustache and a beret
– women having lovers and smoking in an attractive manner
– good food with red wine
– bread, baguettes, berets, stripes and garlic
– accordions and mimes
– Eiffel tower, Montmartre and stripes
– Edith Piaf
In short, I was in a French dream. Don’t get me wrong, it felt nice, and I will go back because the food was amazing. But I realised that the way the British see us French bears little resemblance with what we are. On this note, I will get myself a croissant.