In this chapter, Albus and Minerva spend the afternoon in Paris and board the overnight train to Venice. For details about the train, I cribbed from a short documentary that followed actor David Suchet (of Poirot fame) on a trip from London to Venice on the new Venice-Simplon Orient Express.
Foodies may recognize the famous Parisian restaurant, Au Pied de Cochon, where diners have been enjoying the house specialty, grilled pig’s trotters, since the 1940s. And yes, the chocolate mousse there is the best I’ve ever had!
The very long walk to the dining car whetted Minerva’s appetite, and she was delighted to find moules marinière on the menu. She loved mussels but rarely got them at home, and the light wine broth would be perfect after the heavy lunch they had consumed. Albus ordered a fillet of pickled beef, so they compromised on the wine, selecting a light Bourgueil that would clash with neither dish. As they waited for their meal, they chatted with a middle-aged couple seated at the next table.
When the man, who introduced himself as “Drummond, Drum for short,” mentioned that they were American, Minerva said, “I spent a few months in America several years ago. I found it quite enchanting.”
“Really? Where?” asked Drum.
“For business or pleasure?”
“Both, I suppose. I was teaching and doing a bit of research,” said Minerva.
“Let me guess,” said Drum. “Radcliffe?”
“Er . . .”
“Drum was a Harvard man,” said Drum’s wife, who was called Mary.
Drum chuckled. “Long before your time, of course,” he said to Minerva. “So, was I correct? Are you a Radcliffe girl?”
“No,” said Minerva, getting a bit nervous. She couldn’t very well tell them she’d been at the Salem Witches’ Institute, but she knew very little about Radcliffe, and certainly not enough to lie convincingly to someone who knew his way around Cambridge and its colleges.