Friday, May 13, 2011

19 for 19 = No Bad Meal in Paris

I may have lost all four of my readers due to my neglecting this blog.  Aside from sheer procrastination and a million other distractions, it seems my trip to Paris is what really disrupted my flow.  Of course I did write the previous entry about our trip, but I wanted to write more about Paris and somehow couldn't get my thoughts organized.  Paris is just too overwhelming.  To complicate matters, I've been reading "French or Foe?"  It's a fascinating book about the French and their culture and my "processor" couldn't handle all the new data. My memory was already full of  Paris-bytes so my blog-writing abilities froze up. Strangely, both my laptop and desktop computers seemed to mimic my own "onboard computer": the former got a trojan and went kooky, while the latter lost its voice (soundcard driver is messed---help!) I said, a million distractions.
Who is this Parisienne eating a Lebanese dinner?
There's so much I want to share about what I've learned over the past two months, but at the same time, I don't want to bore readers with "vacation talk".  You know, like when the Smiths invite the Jones over to see vacation slides.  [Personally, I don't mind looking at photos of people's long as it's a place I'm interested in and it includes food photos.]  Not that I didn't make organizing my photos  my #1 priority after returning to my trip, and I am guilty of forcing a few friends/relatives to either look at Jordan's thick 200-photo album or viewing the Smilebox slideshow I made, but I will leave blogging about the Paris city tour to those who are good at both recalling and writing about the details. I came across one such blogger, Noelle Clark from Australia, and if you'd like to read about her week in Paris, it's a wonderful read. (Link will appear below).  My own Paris blog will be less disciplined, for sure. 

Food blogs seem to be the most popular genre for both writing and reading, so who am I to buck the system?  The way to a blog audience's heart may be through his/her stomach, so read on... Reminder: photos can be clicked on to see a larger version.

Endive and salmon salad at Le Boui Boui on
Rue Marie Stuart off Rue Montorguiel
Anthony Bourdain claims there's no bad meal in Paris (click for video), and although I'm sure there must be a few somewhere, my 19 meals were all good to excellent, from the simple baguette sandwiches of sidewalk carts to the decadent confections of Stohrer's;  from the most French of fares--crepes,escargot, and Confit du Canard---to the least French fare--kebabs, shawarma, and stuffed grape leaves. All good!

Why is the food so good there? First and foremost, the French take their food seriously. I believe they consider food more important than money, and consequently their food tastes better than money does. But seriously, my understanding is that the EU is quick to ban additives they consider unhealthy, unlike in the U.S.  In fact, new food additives must be first proved to be safe before they are allowed to be used commercially, whereas it's the opposite in the U.S. where anything "reasonably safe" may be added then only banned if it's proven harmful.  Isn't that special?  Money talks, American health walks. Look below for links to some interesting articles.

Seafood vendor in the Latin Quarter
Paris is full of small, specialized markets with fewer supermarkets and big box stores, which may indicate that people there shop more often and use fresher ingredients.  I was surprised to see a huge selection of yogurt in all of the grocery stores we visited, even in small convenience markets.  It was a pleasant surprise to find that most of the yogurt was free of corn syrup, which Jordan is allergic to.  For instance, they had a plain yogurt that was lightly sweetened with sugar that we enjoyed daily.  No such flavor here in the U.S., at least not in Hawaii anyway.  C'est dommage.
Confit de Canard at Au Compas D'Or on Rue Montorguiel
Like that yogurt, all of the food that I ate in Paris was not too salty nor too sweet.  Even when you'd expect something to be salty, such as their baguette sandwiches with cheese and ham or sausage, it surprised me that it was not.  Looking at the array of fancy pastries in the windows of countless patisseries all over Paris, you could almost feel a toothache coming on, and yet I was surprised that the majority were delicious without being overly sweet.  Even the canned "pate" that I brought home (duck and rabbit meat) did not contain any additives except salt and pepper, and again, not salty. 

I never doubted Jamie Oliver and now I've seen for myself: despite the thousands of cafes, patisseries (pastry shops), fromageries (cheese shops), charcuteries (sausage shops), and boulangeries (bread shops) in Paris, I rarely saw an obese person, and probably they were American tourists.  I ate anything I wanted to and assumed I'd gain a few pounds like I usually do when visiting Honolulu or Las Vegas, but shockingly I didn't gain even a pound.  Of course we weren't sitting around much either, but considering all the french fries, profiteroles, and pastries I ate, it was quite a shock when I got on the scale at home.  I've gotta go back there!! I was in heaven without even knowing it.
Although modest looking, these stuffed peppers were
absolutely scrumptious.

I can't decide which was my favorite meal so I'll say I had two. The first was Confit de Canard (pictured above: duck leg cooked in duck fat then sauteed until crispy) with sliced garlic potatoes (the yummiest potatoes I've ever had) at Compas d'Or on Rue Montorgueil. Rue (Street) Montorguiel is a foodie's paradise of over a solid quarter mile of food shops and cafes.  Our second apartment was located just a short block from there and for me, it was like being in Disneyland and staying at the Disneyland Hotel. 

Adana Kebab at Cafe Istanbul in the Latin Quarter
 The other favorite meal was our Turkish lunch in the Latin Quarter at Cafe Istanbul.  Jordan and I shared the adana kebab, which the menu calls "ground beef" but it was nothing like hamburger--more like slivers of beef pressed together, deliciously seasoned and grilled; and rice-stuffed bell peppers which were so tasty I had to refrain from hogging it all. 

One of the restaurants we dined at is famous for its longevity and being open 24/7. Its name, "Au Pied de Cochon" means "at the foot of the pig" and guess what its specialty is.  I can't vouch for the taste of the very impressive-looking pigsfoot because I opted for the trout instead (Again, the French know what they're doing, it was very good.)
Creepy, but crispy looking Pied de Cochon

Speaking of the knowing what they're doing, I found the French waithelp to be very professional, efficient, and polite. Most were extremely patient and every cafe and restaurant we went to had English-speaking help.  The only problem we encountered was when Susan wanted a doggy bag for her dessert and was told that they had no takeout containers.  Susan was quite persistent until finally we got to witness the classic Gallic shrug from the waiter--it was quite funny.  He was clearly disgusted with us, but when he saw her wrapping it up in a paper napkin, he came back with more napkins.

I couldn't HANDLE the trout!  At least not the whole trout,
although it was quite good and Jordan ate all of hers!

Tips at restaurants are included in the bill, so there's really no incentive for the waithelp to impress, but nevertheless, we got good service.  Be advised, however, that food is not cheap in Paris.  Even a modest baguette sandwich at a sidewalk cart will cost about 4 Euros (close to $6) and it's not even close to a footlong.

Speaking of sidewalk carts, we had some very filling and tasty crepes on the street near our St. Honore apartment and also next to the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Here are more photos of some of our meals:

We chose our first cafe because they had Jordan's favorite French Onion Soup on their menu.  I chose quiche (below), keeping with the "stereotypical French food" theme.

The escargot we ate in Paris seemed to be less butter-drenched than what's usually served in the U.S.  Yet another example of how we tend to overdo things, perhaps. 

Osso Buco with teeny, cheesy macaroni--Jordan had this at Compas d'Or on Rue Montorguiel

I don't remember what this was, but I ate it at an Italian restaurant on Rue des Pyramides and it was delicioso!  Oh, and dogs are allowed in restaurants there... 

Our last meal in Paris was Lebanese on Rue Montorguiel.  Shwarma in pita bread, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, moussaka, and rice.  We don't have Middle Eastern food on Kauai so I had to get my fill!

Check out Jordan's video taken at Le Croissanterie at the Forum des Halles, which is an underground shopping mall. I laughed in surprise when I first viewed this because I never noticed her boywatching before!  ("Sandwiches, sandwiches....ohhhhh cute boy...ok, sandwiches, sandwiches....")  *LOL*

The menu at Au Pied de Cochon.  One Euro is roughly $1.40

Lastly, if you're wondering where the desserts are, stay tuned for the next post!

Noelle Clark's Paris blog---this is just one entry of 6 (one for each day of her trip).

Fooducate---Interesting article on European food safety vs. U.S. unsafety


  1. Hey, a woman after my own heart! I nearly drove my son crazy when travelling in Paris (and elsewhere) because before I would eat a meal, I would take a photo! He said I was embarrassing him. But who has had the last laugh? You should see how my kitchen at home is decorated with large framed photos of FOOD FOOD FOOD. All taken in different restaurants. He now realises how food is, for many, part of the fun of travelling. Great blog Kauai Sis! Cheers, Noelle.

  2. Absolutely, food is my focus on any trip *LOL* I often forget to take photos, being so eager to EAT.

    In one cafe, we forgot to take a photo of our dessert and my friend wanted to stop a waitress if she saw profiteroles about to be served! Another time we again forgot and I tried to surreptitiously take a photo of the same dish on a neighboring table. *LOL*

    One of my next blog posts will address this issue of forgetting to take a photo.


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