Thursday, May 07, 2009
Before commencing my Strasbourg tour I always inform my guests that there are rules, the most important of which is to not ask me about trees. I had to institute this because, while I am confident in my ability to bluff my way through most historical questions, I know nothing about plants, especially trees. Yet, without fail, Canadian visitors will identify my weakness and pick at it like a scab, torturing me with my own incompetence, demanding to species and pruning methods of the arboreal environment. It kills me to admit ignorance, thus the ban.
However, every rule has its exception. There is exactly one tree in all of Strasbourg about which I know anything. It’s a big son-of-a-gun, located near the Pont Couverts in Petit France.
Apparently, in the 1700s, this tree (or another giant of its type on this spot) was a restaurant. Seriously. Officer’s in King Louis’ army stationed in Strasbourg would bring their sweethearts here, lift them up to a platform mounted on the boughs, and have a lovely outdoor meal shrouded in a curtain of greenery.
I’m not sure when the practice stopped (probably around the time that the lawsuit was invented), but in summer, the tree still shelters gourmands dining on the outdoor terrace beneath its canopy. The restaurant there is still called the “Bois Vert.”