I first came to Quebec City to do a post-doctoral fellowship. That was to last two years and it did, and I left as I took a research position in Ontario. More significant, though, was that during that period I met my wife.
I knew nothing of Quebec and even less French than I know now. You can’t do much with a vocabulary that consists of bonjour, champagne and pamplemousse. Why I knew the word for grapefruit is still a mystery to me. If you’ve ever been in a city where you don’t speak the language, you know that sticking to tourist areas and shopping where prices are clearly marked is a survival skill. I ate at McDonalds a lot because I could order by number. And so life was for me. Many parts of the city were off limits to me.
When I started dating my wife, she took me places I’d never been. One of those places was Chez Temporel, a small cafe off the main streets. Its facade would not be out of place in Paris and, at the time, the inside could easily have been a place where writers and artists went to talk and philosophize. In fact, according to history, Chez Temporel hosted poetry readings and folk music on its second floor.
I discovered bol du cafe au lait (bowl of coffee with milk). I’d never heard of drinking coffee from a bowl and, typically, I put nothing in my coffee. But I LIKED this stuff, particularly the large volume of it that came in the bowl. My remembrance of that first bol might be sweetened by the memories of a budding love affair but that’s another story, for another time.
Today I’m reporting on a more recent trip to Chez Temporel, this time with sketching buddy Claudette. We arrived at 9:30 which, on a Monday, is a great time to go there to sketch there if you want to sketch the restaurant itself. Not so much if you want to sketch people as this is their lull period. We had a great time. Claudette did sketch the few people who were eating. I sketched this: