Monday, August 04, 2008

Paris: It's all about la bouffe*

Café at the Place Cambronne
In recapping our recent trip to Paris, where better to start than with the stomach? Because let's face it, this traveler is all about her next meal. And one of the great things I discovered on this trip was that the my traveling companion, i.e. the person who makes pasta by breaking up spaghetti and putting it into a small sauce pan of not-yet-boiling water and turns it on medium and stirs it a little bit and then refuses to admit the fundamental error of his ways when chided by telling me that I "...don't understand the physics of cooking", the person who had to be restrained from picking a hunk of tunafish off the sidewalk from a sandwich he'd been eating while walking at the Baltimore Inner Harbor, that person is now all about la bonne chère, or the joy of mealtime in France.
Pain au raisin et café
Although I am truly a croissant hag and will go to the ends of the earth for a good one, my first love in the French breakfast pastry department is the pain au raisin. Something about the fact that you can pull it apart in order to reveal its inner raisin and sugar goo really sends me. My traveling companion, being a virtuous Protestant that would not be out of place in Calvin's Geneva, "doesn't like sweets" and prefers protein for breakfast. Whatevah Mr. Principles, more for me, please!
Fruitstand in the Marais
Is there anything more pleasing than buying fruit at a fruitstand? Short of picking it yourself, there is no greater delight for this traveler. Let's just say that one day I maxed out so seriously on strawberries, as in a eating whole kilo of them by myself maxed out, that I woke up with a rash on my leg, thereby sending me to my truly favorite place to shop, la French pharmacie!

An afternoon pick-me-up...
As a true slacker in every sense of the word, I must say that I was made for the café lifestyle. We spent a lot of time in cafés and I do believe that the DRMC now finally gets it as well. One of the first things he noticed was how rare it is to see people walking around with to-go cups of coffee. I explained to him that although evil corporate burnt coffee that we've been hoodwinked into believing is good Starbucks do seem to be popping up everywhere in sight, there's nothing like spending a few moments in a café. We did this often.
Retro signs
I am a complete and total sucker for any retro-esque, hand-painted sign. If you hang one outside your establishment, no matter how sucky it might be, the likelihood of me entering it is very, very high.

Cheese Plate, i.e. Gary's new reason for living...
No discussion of French food would be complete without a mention of the crowning glory of every good meal, the cheese plate. Mr. "I don't eat sweets" was blown away by the cheese course and did himself in with superlatives each time we were served a plateau de fromages. If you ever saw "What About Bob?", just think of the scene where Bob is eating Faye's fried chicken ("mmmmmm......aaahhhhh....ooooooohhh") and you get the picture. Sure I love the cheese too, but if it's a choice between crème brûlée and cheese, well...
Dessert: Cheese Plate or Crème Brûlée?
Someone in this household has been bit by the traveling bug. I do believe that this person has fallen hard--he already had a love for Sartre (old skool, y'all), Foucault's panopticon, Rodin and Messiaen, but when I explained to him that the separation of church and state is one of the founding principles of the French Republic, well that just sealed the deal. We have a bona fide francophile on our hands now. And it will likely play in to my hands for a return visit. Air France is also helping out with this, as due to an airline error, my husband got bumped from his non-direct flight to JFK, and was not only put on a direct flight but was given a 300 euro voucher to fly on Air France again. Isn't that worth like $11,000 at this point? He claims that next time (next time!) he'd like to visit different regions of France and see the rest of the country. *le sigh*

Next post: a finished object!


*food, chow, grub, vittles, tender morsels

28 comments:

K. said...

I almost can't believe it! You have accomplished what so many American women only dream of. Conversion of the American male. You rock! Glad you had a fun trip.

nicole said...

Putain que ça l'air bon!!!

Vive la France!

Jodi said...

Sounds fabulous! Have you read Sarah Turnbull's "Almost French"? It's a charming quick read.

J'aime le fromage!

sophanne said...

les mots escape moi. Simply delicious and so well said (revealing its inner raisin- what a great line!) Are those figs in the center? mmm figs.

What about Bob chicken- I felt the cheese at that part.

What a great travel post capable of producing some serious travel envy.

Ashley said...

"if it's a choice between crème brûlée and cheese, well..."

But...but....why would you ever have to make that choice? Why would anybody ever make you make it? Why would we even conceive of a world in which it's one or the other? WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

amandacathleen said...

mmmmm..... I need a snack now!

Cynthia said...

I just learned from TV that Pizza Hut "chocolate dunkers" will make you feel as if you're in France.

Sonya said...

Oh, my... those food pictures are just about more than I can handle. I just had pretzels dipped in ranch dressing for supper and now you show me this?! I'm feeling faint.

Pikku- Kettu said...

How delicious! I remember loving the French croissaints the best when I was in Paris a long time ago. :)

tiennie said...

I so want to travel with you! Food is high on my list of things to enjoy on a trip. :)

Sophie said...

Félicitations Heather, tu ramènes un "bon vivant" à la maison. Well done, well done! May I suggest more trip destinations ? Le val de Loire (et ses poissons d'eau douce), en passant par Bruxelles. L'Alsace (et son Gewürztraminer) avec un petit détour par l'Atomium. La Bourgogne (poires au cassis) avec moules-frites en entrée...
Tiens tiens, midi et demie ici. L'heure de la bouffe!

SJ said...

Oh, the cheese plate! Why oh why cannot we have a cheese course in this country?

Kirsten said...

Okay, I'm right there with Ashley. Why would you ever have to choose? The horror!

kim said...

Oh, that sounds perfect - most especially the cheese!

Cassy said...

Superb pics! I'm dying for cheese and creme brulee now.

maritza said...

Wow, sounds like an awesome trip! Oh my, that creme brûlée looks divine! :)

Kim said...

Food pRon! Especially the photo of creme brulee and cheese. JESUS CHRIST!!! YUM! My fondest memories of Paris are of eating, in particular: salade verte avec chevre. I'm a sucker for vbintage-y signs too and would get that one of the coffee with the croissants tattooed on my body. Glad Mr. ADD came aroudn to the French way of chowing down.

weezalana said...

Ah, the cafes... the fromage.. the bonne chere... *sigh* I miss Paris.

And suddenly, my generic brand english muffin with processed swiss cheese looks quite pathetic.

Yarnhog said...

I'm drooling on my computer.

I LOVED our trip to Paris two years ago. I didn't want to leave and can't wait to go back. I think the only thing I didn't like was that we could never find anywhere we could get both pastry AND coffee for breakfast. We always had to go to the bakery for pastry and a bar for coffee. And I'm just not that energetic before my first cup of coffee in the morning.

And, yeah, I think you've got the exchange rate about right. Hence the trip to Vegas this year instead of Paris. Sigh.

Knittymuggins said...

Mmmm..... *so* love sweets for breakfast!!

The photos were gorgeous and I'm glad you had such a great time :)

knittymuggins

Amy said...

Oh, I SO wish I were there. :) Glad you had both a great time and some promise for future trips!

Esoteric Knitter said...

What a fun post!! Thanks for sharing your super fun experiences!! Love all your gorgeous photos.

wazz said...

Mmmmmm. cheeeeeeese . . .

tara said...

Mmmm, Paris! I love France!

My personal favourite is the pain au chocolat! The perfect combination of butter and chocolate for breakfast.

Michael said...

Another lovely post that makes me wanna move to France... again....

a friend to knit with said...

your photos are fantastic. the food looks fantastic.
i am off to bed so that i can dream.............

Sourire11 said...

mmmmmm.. france... mmmmmmm

I, too, am a complete sucker for hand painted signs.

kmkat said...

I have never felt a great desire to visit France (except for possibly the Louvre) until I read about the cheese plate. Now, I yearn to visit Gay Paree.