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I met my friend Susie who hails from Scotland, at her new apartment in the 6th district. She runs downstairs to meet me and I almost don’t recognize her as her hair has been newly re-dyed to dark brown, her natural colour. But she looks great as usual, and we embrace. We make our way to Jim’s Dinner while chatting about her recent vacation to Chile with her fiance, and my book, Stockdale.
Finally, we arrive in Alesia, a neighbourhood in the 14th district that I don’t know much about. It looks cool. Very down to earth (and what this really means is that not every other person is running around carrying an Hermes bag. Love the Hermes, don’t get me wrong, but see my ODE to 75008 article.) Anyway, we get to Jim’s apartment, which is gated by a fence which is at least ten feet high; green in color. Susie’s left the code at home so we run and just catch the door before it closes. Whew! We’re inside. We walk up a cobblestone path and turn right onto a terrace. There are smokers lining the place, sitting in chairs, some standing, all extremely cordial.
We enter the building and the first thing we see is Jim’s apartment on the left. He has set up a bar in the very entrance of the building and people are helping themselves to Coke, red and white wine; and beer. There is a line to enter the apartment but it moves quickly and we soon discover that the queue is actually the queue to eat, as well as enter.
There is a long rectangular table just upon entering the apartment covered with a bright orange table cloth. There are huge bowls of salsa on the table as well as a can of forks, and white paper napkins beside them. Behind is the kitchen and on the stove are gigantic pots. An Irishman wearing a white shirt is serving people red lentils, rice, spinach and lamb on real white plates.
There are books and albums everywhere, as well as people sitting in chairs as we make our way to the narrow staircase, which curves around and climbs to a second floor. Piles of books litter the staircase all the way up and I see a nude woman gracing the cover of one magazine that had to be at least thirty years old.
At the top of the staircase off to the left is a darkened bedroom. We forge ahead to another bedroom which has a huge window overlooking the scene below. We put our coats on the bed and hear laughter, and for the first time notice a young woman in the darkened corner talking on her cell phone. I talk to her later and find out she’s a Russian student who’s living with Jim for one semester.
We go back downstairs and head for the bar, taking Merlot. Susie has been before and sees a few friends, Englishmen whom she introduces me to. I make my way around the room shaking hands and chatting it up.
Jim, the 60ish year-old owner of the studio-flat with high ceilings and tall windows is sitting behind the table on a stool wearing a blue apron, which appropriately reads JIM. Luckily he doesn’t notice me starring because he’s busy marking off people’s names. He asks mine and repeats it several times, saying he likes the sound of it. He’s warm and repeats my name for the entire night that I am there, shouting it out and introducing me to different people, even when I am twenty feet away from him.
But he doesn’t do this just for me. He does it for everyone. He remembers every single person’s name and makes sure no one is left out.
I’d read up on Jim before going and Susie had told me a lot of cool things about him, but I didn’t expect that really…that amount of friendliness and charming personality. He’s a force, and a major one. Author, poet, writer, organizer, and publisher- the list goes on and on. AND he’s been throwing his Sunday Dinners since the 1970’s.
On this particular night there are approximately 90 people at Jim’s Dinner. The good thing? Every single person I spoke to was super friendly and interesting, from the Brits, the French professor, the college students visiting from Arizona, to the actor/painter from L.A.
Should you go? Yes, definitely. The food is alright, and the Cook, Seamus is as sweet as he can be as we say back home, and doesn’t mind filling your plate a second time. The conversations are about anything and everything, and nothing. There are people from every where you can imagine, and some you can’t. Young, old, somewhere in the middle—age doesn’t matter. And the host, Jim? Well, he’s exceedingly alright. He’ll make sure you have a good time and feel at home. I know I did.
If you go:
Make sure you contact Jim to get your name on the list!!!
Phone: 00 33 1 43 27 17 67
Address : 83 rue de la Tombe Issoire, in the 14th arrondissement
Time : 8 p.m. Sharp !