Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Food for thought

This is the deal. If you have to eat a French meal for lunch every day, from the affordable menus they offer you at every restaurant, which includes appetizer, entrée and dessert, you also need to take a massive nap to recover or run three laps around the Seine to offset its effects. Also, one gets tired of onion soup and boeuf bourguignon, etc. The French idea of a salad, still is, despite important inroads from America, something that includes boiled egg, boiled potatoes, some charcuterie, tons of mayo and cooked string beans. A simple green salad does exist but somehow never makes it into the salad offerings from the menus. It comes as a wilted side with the meat and potatoes.
Me, I could just eat Gratin Dauphinois for life. A gift of the French to the world, on a par with the Illustration in my opinion, it simply is this incredible baked gratin of potatoes and cream. I had one the other day near the Pantheon. I ordered the steak just so I could have the gratin. The steak was tasty but tough. The gratin? OMG.
Luckily, there are lots of ethnic restaurants in Paris.
So far we ate great Senegalese food. The best couscous on Earth. There is a Lebanese restaurant around the corner that offers very good take out (tabouleh, pitas, sauteed eggplant, kibbeh). Yesterday we had quite excellent Vietnamese food in a little place around the corner. So far, we've steered clear of Italian because we did have one pasta at Cafe de L'Industrie that, had an Italian eaten it, he would have declared war between the two countries. at the very least. The pasta was overcooked and accompanied by a pesto sauce that had more cream than basil. It was a frenchified version of a simple, easy dish and it was very wrong. Having said that, the flavor wasn't bad, but the consistency was creamy mush. The bolognese next to it wasn't any great shakes either. There are many Italian restaurants, and I guess they must be decent, but coming from NY, where I can eat at Lupa or Bar Pitti, why risk it? Unless someone tells me of something I shouldn't miss.
We've had other pastas in French places (the thing to do if you don't want duck or meat again). Apparently the French love their pasta smothered in strong cheese and tons of butter and cream. That, they do pretty well.
We are now officially in search of the best Chocolat Liegeois in Paris. The logic being that if at a non-descript cafe one can have such a marvel, there must be a place where they make the best one which induces incontrollable swooning. So far, we had a disappointing one at the place of the Gratin Dauphinois. A small sacrifice for the cause. I will keep you posted.

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