Too much of a good thing
There are many, many wonderful things about being with Raschinna. Beauty, brains, class, drive and an accent (St. Vincent in the Grenadines by way of Brooklyn) that I heard an admirer claim he could listen to forever! Hmmm —— . Raschinna is as a Certified Destination Specialist. That translates to travel. Her specialty is upscale travel – and that’s a wonderful thing.
A FAM trip is a professional educational excursion that is extended to travel agents by properties (hotels, resorts, restaurants) worldwide that are anxious to show their wares off. The purpose is to familiarize the agent with the site and the guest services available so that it can be recommended on a first hand basis. In other words they are trumpeting ‘these are the same accommodations, service and food that your high rolling, upscale clients can expect if they stay with us’. On one memorable trip to France in the fall of 2000 the FAM trip was all about wonderful first class accommodations, lovely views, beautiful weather, pleasant chunks of history and more than anything else – it is France, after all – food.
After a day in London Raschinna and I boarded a train for France. I remember a security guard allowing me travel through the Chunnel (the tunnel that stretches under the English Channel) with a pocket knife in my back pocket. (Pre 9/11 bliss, I assume.) On our first night in Paris we met the other ten couples that we would be hanging with for the duration of the trip. Even though half of us were travel agents and there was a lot of shop talk everybody was pretty cool. The competitiveness they work with didn’t seep down to spouses and significant others. We even managed to steer clear of politics - most of the time. The Gore vs. Bush spectacle (the general election version) was entering into its final stages so steering clear of that really wasn’t all that easy. Especially where the Parisians were concerned. If they noticed that you were American they would seek you out and chastise you for even considering voting Bush in. I guess we showed them. Ouch ——
Our first real meal in Paris was at Bernard Loiseau’s chez Tante Marguerite. Mr. Loiseau was at the time one of the top three chefs in France which makes him among the top ten in the world. I guess that means the man knows how to cook. In 2000 he had a three star restaurant in Paris, another three star chateau/restaurant in Burgundy and he was fast becoming a brand name in the international stage of fine cuisine. I remember well his broad smile and effusive manner. You could really feel that he loved what he was doing in his life. Lucky guy.
Our group was in a private dining room and what I remember most was how unfamiliar the food looked on the plate and how utterly delicious it was to consume. Luckily Raschinna kept me from licking the plate —- I was close, though. Our hostess, Madame Loiseau told us we were eating a “simple” French meal. If she says so.