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Happy Thanksgiving!

It's hard to believe, but the computer tells me that I haven't told this story here.

Two years ago today, we were in Paris. Kathleen was convinced that the only way we could get out of sharing turkey with friends and relatives was by leaving the country. So we checked into the Park Hyatt in the Rue de la Paix. It's a great little hotel, but I hope that they have a new chef. Do you really want to eat a club sandwich that has fava beans in it? No, I didn't think so.

Park Hyatts, wherever they are, are super business hotels, very quietly luxe. The concierges are always très fiable. They'll get you where you want to go. Even so, I was truly surprised when we were told that we had a table for two at Taillevent, one of the most remarkable restaurants in the world, on Thanksgiving Day. As JR at L'homme qui marche has noted, this is just another Thursday in France; you go to work today and you don't faire le pont tomorrow. We thought that having Thanksgiving dinner at Taillevent would be our own private Idaho. But, no.

We were not seated in the inner sanctum. My mother-in-law would have complained about the table - not that it would have done her any good. One hears that there is a quota system at Taillevent: no more than forty percent of the diners can be foreign. Nevertheless, we were very happy to be where we were. I believe that I had lamb, because I remember a brief conversation with the genial patron afterward, in which he told me that the lamb came from the Pyrenees. But what I remember most clearly is what happened across the room at a table for two.

Two. Because of my stiff neck, I didn't get a good look at the couple, but as I recall it was composed of a prosperous gentleman and his niece. She at any rate couldn't have been a hearty eater.

A waiter rolled out a metal table on wheels, one of those fancy "hotel silver" affairs, on which there was a large silver cloche. This got everyone's attention. When the waiter got to the table across the room, he whisked off the cloche to reveal a full-sized roast turkey. After slicing a few pieces of meat from the breast of the bird and serving them, he wheeled the largely-intact carcass back into the kitchen in unmistakably embarrassed haste. It was only the sophistication that all Taillevent guests must possess that kept the room from bursting into applause (or laughter), for you may be sure that no one in the room did a thing but stare at this incredible production. Need I say that roast turkey was not on the menu?

We asked our waiter, and were discreetly assured that the gentleman was "not American." Even so, it was the best floor show that I'll ever see.


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Dear RJ,

Jim, Izzy and I tried to escape Xmas twice, once by going all the way to Paris.

We had a similar experience.

I enjoyed this blog column very much and see if I can match it this coming Xmas.

Cheers to you and Kathleen,


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