Three restaurants in Paris

Parisian restaurants aren’t as boring as they used to be. The French are even mastering the art of the museum restaurant that seems to keep evading us Italians. Here are my pictures from Les Ombres, at the Musée du Quai Branly; L’Atelier de Joel Rebuchon, on the Rive Gauche; and Georges at the Beaubourg.

Les Ombreslatelier-de-joel-rebuchon.jpggeorges.jpg

Autism, language and personhood

It looks like everybody knows at least somebody who has an autistic child these days. In fact, I sometimes get the feeling that is it becoming fashionable to claim to have been at least a borderline Asperger child (and I am not immune to the fad myself). Today, this video by an autistic woman made me think again about what the majority of us calls a cognitive deficit, all the while being told by autistic people who cross over and try to explain it to us in our language that from their point of view it is our cognitive patterns that appear to be severely restricted, not theirs. Eight and a half minutes, quite worth watching. If you’re the kind who prefers reading to videos (I do!), I also recommend Send in the Idiots by Kamran Nazeer.

Barbara Ehrenreich on hope

From the February 2007 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

I hate hope. It was hammered into me constantly a few years ago when I was being treated for breast cancer: Think positively! Don’t lose hope! Wear your pink ribbon with pride! A couple of years later, I discovered that the facility where I received my follow-up care was called The Hope Center. Hope? What about a cure? […] I got through my bout of cancer in a state of constant rage, directed chiefly at the constant positivity of American breast-cancer culture. I remain, although not absolutely, certifiably, cancer-free down to the last cell, at least hope-free. Do not mistake this condition for hopelessness, in the beaten or passive sense, or confuse it with unhappiness. The trick, as my teen hero Camus wrote, is to draw strength from the “refusal to hope, and the unyielding evidence of a life without consolation.” To be hope-free is to acknowledge the lion in the tall grass, the tumour in the CAT scan, and to plan one’s moves accordingly.

What is your path to feeling alive?

An interesting post on the Avanoo blog a few days ago. I’m somewhere in the plain-vanilla mainstream when it comes to actual sex, I don’t drink alcohol, and I practice yoga (just not three hours a day, like the guy in the post – a yoga practice that, by the way, would seem to me incompatible with an investment banking job). What’s your combination?

Why doesn’t the Web work today?

I don’t mean the whole Web… I don’t mean my broadband connection, which looks fine… I mean the sites I’m trying to do business with.

I’ve just about given up on MySpace: blogging there is a constant aggravation. I want to order some photo prints, but Pixmania seems to only upload photos for about half of my attempts. Technorati is, as they say, “borked”. And the Poste Italiane site refuses to process the payment for the parking ticket I need to pay, which worries me, because when they say they’re “temporarily” down, it might take them (unlike Technorati) until Monday or so to get back up.

I was thinking about ordering some groceries, but today I think I’ll probably just go out and buy food the old-fashioned way.

Where to find the best three breakfasts in the world

I had a few amazing breakfasts while on holiday last month (see 2. below), and I figured I’d share my memory of this dream breakfast while it’s still fresh in my mind. In the context, however, of a ranking – of the top three places in the world for breakfast, carefully selected over many years of traveling worldwide.

  1. Grand Park Hyatt, Tokyo, Japan. This is the classy hotel of “Lost in Translation” fame, and my experience there was outstanding. Here’s a place where, in the best hospitality tradition, each and every member of the staff will go the extra mile to satisfy your wishes or solve your problems. The breakfast is the best part of the day: a most civilized, truly cosmopolitan meal, from the crunchiness of the muesli to the genuineness of the prosciutto.
  2. Soneva Gili, Lankanfushi Island, North Male Atoll, Maldives. You can’t have a bad day if it includes tai chi, yoga, diving and massages, but it’s even better if it starts with an unexpectedly stellar breakfast. Catalan chef Jaume (who worked with Santi Santamaria near Barcelona) runs a Michelin-star quality operation on this tiny island, where you dine with your feet in the sand and hear the waves gently lapping the shore. The breakfast? Imagine the Grand Park Hyatt buffet, sushi to smoothies, and add the lovely touch of a selection of ayurvedic infusions.
  3. Maison de Marc Veyrat, Veyrier du Lac (near Annecy), France. Breakfast at this most charming country inn comes delivered in a wicker basket to your lakeside terrace. The basket is about the size of a trunk, and the contents never cease to amaze, from homemade marmalades and jams to an assortment of French and Swiss cheeses. Dinner was good, but the breakfast experience eclipsed it in my memory.

May your breakfast be healthy and nutritious, and give you the right fuel for each and every day of your life!

Literary quote of the day: Ian McEwan, “Atonement”

Occasionally a writer puts together a descriptive passage just so, I don’t want to say “perfect”, but just so sensorially accurate that it makes me cringe in my inability to replicate it. This one is by Ian McEwan:

Yes. Unable to push her tongue against the word, Briony could only nod, and felt as she did so a sulky thrill of self-annihilating compliance spreading across her skin and ballooning outward from it, darkening the room in throbs. She wanted to leave, she wanted to lie alone, facedown on her bed and savor the vile piquancy of the moment, and go back down the lines of branching consequences to the point before the destruction began. She needed to contemplate with eyes closed the full richness of what she had lost, what she had given away, and to anticipate the new regime.