a peek inside the fishbowl

10 Jul, 2019

One moment en route to Paris, from Toronto

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

I knew the airplane breakfast was going to be an issue for the older gentleman sitting next to me in the aisle seat. He was French (“like FRENCH FRENCH” which is how we sometimes describe someone from France but not from Quebec). He and I didn’t exchange a single word during the entire flight but I felt like I knew him a tiny bit. His choice of in-flight entertainment consisted entirely of old Charlie Chaplin films and jazz. He listened to music with his eyes closed and I never knew if he was asleep or just listening very deeply.

When I saw the cheery flight attendant handing out breakfast I watched to see what my neighbour would do. He arrived at our row, tray in hand and a friendly and eager-to-please expression on his face. The tray in question contained what I can only describe as a gas-station muffin, a rectangle of cheese, fruity imitation yogurt (I refer to it as imitation yogurt because it’s a thin shadow of what real yogurt is really like), orange juice, and water. There may have been another item in there, but that’s what I recall.

In essence, it was the antithesis of a French breakfast.

I watched with bated breath. Would my neighbour accept this awful interpretation of the first meal of the day? If he did, which of these items would he eat?

The flight attended looked at him expectantly. “Monsieur?”

My neighbour raised his right hand in one swift and decisive motion. I heard only one word: “Non.”

The flight attendant leaned in. Hushed words were exchanged, in French, so I don’t know what was said. He reached back to his cart, grasped a silver urn, and poured my neighbour a coffee. Black s’il vous plait. And that was that.

3 Responses to "One moment en route to Paris, from Toronto"

1 | Mike

July 10th, 2019 at 10:19 pm


Beautiful description of your seat mate :) , and with much respect. I use that line “FRENCH FRENCH” all the time. Now that i live back in NL, “FRENCH FRENCH” is used for the folks that live in Saint Pierre and Miquelon , and with much respect, A beautiful Island off our southern coast. Have been there 3X. Cheers!

2 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Two hours in Paris, part one - a peek inside the fishbowl

July 11th, 2019 at 9:39 am


[…] my previous post, I wrote a little about our airline breakfast but I was getting a little bit ahead of […]

3 | Jenn Jilks

July 10th, 2022 at 11:16 am


That was an interesting observation. Our kids are in Istanbul right now. They have had adventures.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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