Monday, June 6, 2011

Spring arrives like a gay bison!

At the risk of shocking some of my gastronomically more sophisticated readers, I have a confession to make. Sometimes, there's nothing I crave more than a nice juicy hamburger and french fries. Fortunately, I live right around the corner from the conveniently located "Buffalo Grill", one of an enormous chain of restaurants that spans the entire country of France, which reinterprets classic American dishes for the French restaurant patron. Though my local branch seems to be a favorite hangout for obese Australian tourists, for some reason. (Almost by definition, any obese person in Paris is a probably a foreign tourist; oddly enough, Paris is the only place I have ever encountered fat Australians.)

I love the Buffalo Grill. For a mere 12 Euros I can get a delicious Arizona Burger and fries, with 3 scoops of ice-cream for dessert. And they throw in a free salad. The bill is never more than about 16 Euros and I am always happy when I leave.

As if that weren't reason enough to frequent the place, there are the place-mats, which double as menus, hilarious advertising vehicles, and child-amusement devices. It is this latter aspect that I would like to explore in this post. This evening, I had come prepared with some serious reading material:

But just as I was settling in to educate myself about Germany's strategy to wean itself from its dependence on nuclear energy, this caught my eye:

Apparently, since my last visit, Spring had arrived at the Buffalo Grill. Moreover, this was not your run-of-the-mill, nondescript, kind of entrance. No indeed. Spring had made a flamboyant entry, "gay like a bison". I was intrigued. (Who wouldn't be?)
Suddenly my place mat was far more than a mere table decoration. Its entertainment potential needed further investigation. And when I turned it over, there, waiting for me was the exciting world of the "Buffalo Friends". There was Ours Gourmet, inviting me to navigate the maze so that he could rejoin his squirrel buddy, Ecureuil Panache. In the bottom corner, Aiglon Furtif was imploring me to find the matching pair of trees. Over on the left, Ponette Fougeuse was inviting me to join her in a little Sudoku puzzle.

I didn't have the heart to break it to poor Ponette that I detest Sudoku. Fortunately, right up above her was Castor Malin, proposing to me a fiendishly difficult rebus:

Would I be up to the challenge? After all, one of my frequent complaints since arriving in France has been that I am constrained to "speak like an 8-year old". What if even that modest claim proved to be untrue? The potential for humiliation was enormous.

So, dear reader, what do you think? Did I manage to crack the puzzle without cheating? Perhaps you would like to try it out yourself.

(to be continued)

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