I read a book once in which the main character had a French mother who would cook up a storm whenever she and her husband visited. The girl would always say about all the meats and cremes and everything “mother, you’ll be the death of us,” to which the mother retorted “can you imagine a better way to die?” Indeed.
It’s hard not to love France because good food is everywhere, even in a tiny convenience store. See this sheep cheese? I bought it in a tiny convenience store that had a better selection than a gourmet shop in the USA would for cheaper than it would be here! It’s just so much easier to eat well in Europe honestly… and yep before anyone asks, the cheese was delicious.
But of course the food only gets better from there. For starters, who can resist a crepe in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower? Banana and chocolate in my case, cooked while I waited so there was the additional benefit of a piping hot snack on a cold day.
Another great street food on a cold day- this is one of many, many roasted chestnut vendors in Paris. It is a great sadness that the concept of roasted chestnuts is nonexistent in the USA because they are absolutely delicious so whenever I see a seller abroad I can’t resist buying some, served straight from the fire in a sheaf of old rolled newspaper.
Ok, off the street and into the cafes! Things get interesting because as a traveler you should always go into places that only have menus written in the local language, and even if my name implies I should I don’t speak French. The thing is by this point I can read it and all the other romance languages pretty well due to a combination of a year of French in 6th grade, several more later of Latin, and the simple fact that we know most international foods by their names anyway. So when a waiter slaps down the daily specials board next to you clearly expecting you to know what the hell is going on you pick one that sounds like you have a chance of knowing what you’ll get because whoever heard of bad food in a French cafe anyway?
The above result is what happened when I saw the word “pesto” and figured I should go for it- the pasta was tossed with pine nuts, prosciutto ham, and cheese that melted as you ate it. Tres bien!
A side note by the way- see the Kindle on the left? I got one for Christmas this year and brought it to Europe with me to see how it would fare while traveling, and in short I recommend it because in addition to the weight factor you get free wifi everywhere! So it was great for quick email checks during the day and looking up details plus had the additional factor that every French waiter got really excited and struck up a conversation as I guess they’re not sold there yet. It probably won’t last long, but even the most huffy waiter seemed to melt at the prospect of inspecting new technology.
Lots more delicious meals along the way but I’ll just stick ahead towards the last night where I treated myself to a beefsteak, aka steak tartare. It’s definitely one of those foods that you either love or are horrified by- raw beef?!– but I honestly don’t see how people can embrace sushi and not this stuff. Plus trust me, it’s delicious!
So what we have here is a “before” and “after” picture of the tartare I got in a swanky Parisian cafe-bar because there’s definitely a do it yourself quality to the meal. (Yep, they just crack an egg on top of the raw meat and give you various things like onions and spices to mix in.) The strangest thing to me was how this giant plate arrived without the traditional toast or in fact any other starch product to spread the meat on, as whoever heard of just eating this stuff by itself? That might make you sick actually… Anyway I made my complaints to the waiter known, and after being a little confused he brought out a few slices for me. Sooooo good…Last but not least, the chocolate mousse. I’m not sure why but I’m not much of a dessert person- I guess my sweet tooth just isn’t terribly developed- but one huge exception to this rule is chocolate mousse. How can you resist? Particularly when you still have some French red wine left and happen to know that chocolate and red wine are superb together?
Now with that you’ll have to excuse me, as reliving all these delicious meals has made me extremely hungry. Time for dinner!