The Aroma of Paradise / Gaspe Quebec

The ride from the ferry landing on the south shore of the St Lawrence to Gaspe took longer than my father and I had anticipated, even counting for a Quebec trooper stopping my father for speeding. 160 KPH in a 100 KPH zone. My father received a warning and we were back on our way, wheeling along the rugged coast line. The peninsula ended at our destination. A small fishing town famousized by the monolithic islands trailing into the Atlantic. Both of us were happy to arrive at sunset. We booked a hotel and asked the clerk for the address of the best restaurant.

“Bonne Vue.”

“Tres bien.” My father had learned his French in college. 1940. Mine came from working at the Bains-Douches in the 80s. The clerk didn’t understand either of us. Quebec’s dialect dated back to the 1600s.

We walked to the restaurant. The evening air was free of mosquitoes. A delightful fragrance traipsed with the breeze. My father’s keen nose smelled the same aroma. The source was a restaurant without a name. We entered like drug-sniffing dogs hunting a motherlode of cocaine. I knocked on the wall of the kitchen. The chef turned from his frying pan filled with seafood.

“Deux plats comme ca.” I lifted two fingers. He smiled back at us. Every cook likes a comment. The hostess sat us by the window. Our meal was a bouillabaisse of local fish, clams, and shrimp. Delicious was an understatement. We were transported to paradise. The wine came from France. This was a foreign land. Tomorrow we would be heading back south.

Away from the distant Quebec and its food.

Nothing like it south of the border.

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