We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Fennel grows like a weed - and literally as a roadside weed - all over Europe. A celery-like thing, with a cool licorice flavor. You can munch on it raw, sautee it, or pickle it either as refrigerator pickles or real pickles. Fenuil in French, finocchio in Sicily and Italy.
It's perfect with simple seafood. Here's my first course (lousy photo): Warm salad of sliced octopus on a bed of sauteed fennel.
Main course (which was not really needed) - a rare filet of French beef with a jus with olives, not mushrooms. And usual Euroland runny mashed taters.
I have traveled all over Europe. I have often enjoyed the food and I have also been disappointed (as in "what is this?") by the food. But I have always enjoyed the restaurants and the ambiance. Paris and France in general tops that list but Italy, Switzerland and Bavaria is a close second. I would rather eat a ham sandwich at the top of the Zugspitze or Lauterbrunnen than enjoy the finest restaurant in NY City. That is what I miss the most, the food and wine, not so much.