The most delicious of all confections and the most intense of gastronomic pleasures at Christmas time, which, alas, have ceased to exist. I had hoped to find something comparable amongst the glacé fruits at Fortnum and Mason, but these fall a long way short of the exquisite crystallised figs I knew as a child. Sic transit gloria mundi.
Waking in London on the second day, I am now a member of the oldest private French restaurant club in the city, having been introduced by Charlie. I was smitten by the cadre, a real coup de foudre, by the charm of the patron and by his willingness to converse in French. What clinched it, however, was the music. What could constitute a warmer welcome than “Je me suis fait tout petit”, by Georges Brassens! When the owner of the club declared how much he was missed, I knew I was in the right place and that there was no resisting the temptation of membership. The cheese board takes some beating, too; indeed it was one of the finest I had seen.
On waking, this time in London, I have two of the greats on my mind, Erasmus and Proust, the former for a titbit characteristic of his inventive wit and of which I have only recently become aware, which merely reveals that I should have made a point of reading footnotes more assiduously:
“He was born Gerrit Gerritszoon. Believing that this name derived from the German word begehren (to desire), he manufactured the name by which he is known by translating “desired” into Latin (desiderius) and Greek (erasmus).”
the latter for his eyes and for the painstakingly inventive character of his relationship with them:
“Je n’oublierai jamais, dans une curieuse ville de Normandie voisine de Balbec, deux charmants hôtels du XVIIIe siècle, qui me sont à beaucoup d’égards chers et vénérables et entre lesquels, quand on la regarde du beau jardin qui descend des perrons vers la rivière, la flèche gothique d’une église qu’ils cachent s’élance, ayant l’air de terminer, de surmonter leurs façades, mais d’une matière si différente, si précieuse, si annelée, si rose, si vernie, qu’on voit bien qu’elle n’en fait pas plus partie que de deux beaux galets unis, entre lesquels elle est prise sur la plage, la flèche purpurine et crénelée de quelque coquillage fuselé en tourelle et glacé d’émail.”