When we get out of the airport it’s so cold I can see my stale plane breath in the air. Economy class is nobody’s friend. Restavit ( that you can get over the chemist counter…!) is now one of mine. Three hours out of Bangkok I nibble at a quarter of a tablet, put on long socks, an eye mask, kiss my husband goodbye and drift off to a pastel place that’s not quite sleep and not quite wake for a good seven hours. But it leaves me in a strange dream land.
It’s 1 pm Paris time. There’s only one thing to do after the Hungry One has hauled two suitcases up 8 flights of stairs to the apartment. Petit Dejeuner we missed. It’s time for the real thing.
We wander aimlessly until we come across the Moufftard, the open air strip of markets, shops and restaurants that connects the 5th with the Latin quarter. There aren’t any market stalls, but there are restaurants a plenty. I’ve done no research, I have no reference points, so the Hungry One points to somewhere cosy and we enter. I’m slightly disturbed and disappointed that the menu has an English translation. Then I realize how paltry our French is and don’t mind quite so much.
Our first meal in France is everything clichés and dreams are made of. There’s a carafe of Cote de Rhone that’s pretty rough. The 3 course price fixe lunch comes to 11 euro each. To start there’s escargot with parsley butter for me. Half a dozen petite specimens that present their own little game of hide and seek to extract the slippery little suckers. For the Hungry One it’s a slab of terrine the size of a video case, chunky with kernels of roughly chopped meat and a little bouquet of cornichons propped beside it for company and cut-through.
We then loll about in beef bourgingnon that flakes apart when the Hungry One forks it over, and skate (ray wings) with caper butter. The skate is almost gelatinous and can be prodded away from its connecting cartilage into strings, revealing a texture not dissimilar to British Airway’s penne. The flavor is another story- capers add a lightness and the potatoes that come with redeem the vegetable in my eyes. Who knew, potatoes had a taste all of their own?
We roll on into three rustic chunks of cheese, with more bread. There’s a Bresse blue, a chalky camembert and a brie that threatens to ooze, but never quite defeats the surface tension of the chipped plate to make it past its designated corner.
Then we come face to face with chocolate mousse- it’s dark in flavor and colour, it’s light and fluffy. It’s a small tragedy when the Hungry One and I bump spoons against each other, clamoring for the last scratching of it.
Oh if only being a cliché could always be this much fun. By the end of lunch, the sleeping pill has worn off, but I still feel like I’m walking around in some kind of a dream.
Rue de Moufftard, 5th. Paris.