I think I can officially qualify as a Francophile, or at least a Parisophile. If I had to pick a city to land in, it would be there. I think I could happily make my family nest right in the heart of the city and never leave.
And because I’m focusing on food this week, France seems a logical place to spend Monday. This morning I am dreaming of:
- The market at the Place Monge. This was walking distance from my door when we stayed there this summer. I was timid shopping at first but as my French improved (marginally) I grew a bit more bold asking the butcheress in the cashmere sweater how she would cook the gorgeous pink rabbit sausage, its coils displayed in her case like a necklace. The Algerian man selling twenty varieties of olives told me which one to use in a tangine explaining very emphatically that I was only to use this one variety toujours – always. When the topic turned to food the Parisians would cheerfully slow down and take as much time as was needed to explain what I should do. And although we were staying in a somewhat sparsely furnished vacation rental apartment, the kitchen came fully stocked with every appliance I could possibly want and Le Crueset pans, so I turned out some phenomenal meals that the kids loved. French food does tend to be a bit heavy on the meat, but the produce in the market was so glorious that I know I could easily cook wonderful vegetarian meals if I lived there. As it was, we went through pounds of homemade green bean salad. And hummus from the Lebanese vendor. And tomme, one of my favorite cheeses. Shall I continue or are you as hungry as I am?
- Warm croissants and baguettes from the boulangerie on the corner. Oh to have a bakery like this inches from my house. I really think I was born in the wrong country.
- La Semaine du Gout. I just found out that last week was what can basically be translated as “Yummy Week” or “Try-it Week” in French schools (the literal translation is “The Week of Taste”). Started eighteen years ago by a French food authority, this is a week when chefs, farmers, restaurateurs, etc. go into French schools and teach children about how to eat and how to cook. There are field trips, cooking classes, blind tastings…and apparently some of the kids get the cutest tocques or chef’s hats. See a picture read more about this at Dorie Greenspan’s blog (she’s one of my favorite food writers). The fact that such a week exists is enough to make me want to move my family to France right now.
- Cooking lessons at the Ecole Ritz Escoffier. That’s right – at the Ritz Hotel in the Place Vendome, one of the fanciest and most beautiful places to stay anywhere in the world. But I’m not dreaming of cooking lessons for me (I would rather sign up with Patricia Wells) but for Tommy. This school offers courses for children ages 6-12. I can just see him making me his first pâté ….If you visit the website, make sure you take the panoramic tour of the kitchen.
- Mint ice cream from Berthillon, the best ice cream in Paris (or as Teddy will claim, “the world”). This ice cream is actually available throughout the city, including on the Rue Mouffetard, just a few blocks from where we were staying. But we always went directly to the source to get it because really, any excuse to stroll the enchanting Ile Saint-Louis is a good one. By the time we left I think my children viewed it as their own personal island.
Anyone got a winning lottery ticket they’d like to pass along?