I was a ‘pescatarian’ for about a year of my life. I say that here but generally I just said, “I try to avoid eating most meat” if provoked (I didn’t care to discuss it; I hate hearing about everyone’s dietary particularities and plus, as an adventurous eater, I have little tolerance for dietary particularities in general) but still ate fish, because it’s good for you and I love fish. I became thoroughly depressed about it when I took a geology class about the oceans my last semester of college and learned exactly what overfishing does to the world, but it’s…well…I’m still torn up about it, to tell the truth. But this isn’t a moral post. Perhaps another day.
All of that said, my arrival in France was the end of my pescatarian stage. I started last year by eating just a bit occasionally, and worked my way up to being a fairly regular meat eater. During my few months at home last summer, I ate meat probably between five and ten times. I made it count, let me tell you (example: delicious pork belly from my town’s most authentic Chinese restaurant. Both the resto and the dish were introduced to me by my Taiwanese neighbor).
Because I really like traveling and I really like eating, any kind of dietary restriction is a pain in my butt. To pass up meat in France seems crazy. One of the reasons I “avoid eating it” at home is because it’s so difficult (and pricey) to find good quality, non-factory-farmed meat in the US. In France, everything you put into your mouth is traced from its origin. You know where all of your food comes from!!! French people tell me factory farming is growing in France, and I’m sure it’s true, but in the meantime it is still possibly to find fresh, quality meat. And I’m taking advantage while I can.
My mom and I had some of the very best of it for lunch today at Chez Robert et Louise, which makes an appearance on most lists of Paris’s best restaurants. We had the côte de boeuf, which came from Austria and is one of their renowned dishes. When we were seated my mom asked if I had a problem being right next to the open kitchen, what with all the smoke and the heat, but it was no problem at all! It turned out we had the very best seats for watching the young chef stab into giant slabs of beef and throw them onto the open fire. It was serious cooking. Such a show, and such a meal!
Along with the rest of the world who visits and eats in Paris, highly recommend Chez Robert et Louise for the ambiance and the food. Real rustic French cooking! God, I love this country.
And so here is what Robert et Louise have to offer:
post feast: ze fat from my meat
28 avril 2012
Lunch with Maria on the corner of Boulevard de Sebastopol and Boulevard Saint-Denis.
9 avril 2012
This was the first restaurant I ever frequented in Paris, thanks to its handy location right around the corner from the first place I ever stayed and thanks to its free wifi. It’s cute and cozy and reasonably priced, and the servers are warm and friendly, and I love it.
The greatest pizza I have ever eaten came from here, some teensy hole-in-the-wall pizza-to-go joint that was packed with locals, all standing up with a rectangle of pizza in hand.
near the entrance to the Vatican, 25 février 2011
My Italian roommate went home to Rome for our school holiday and got back a few days ago. This is what he returned with:
I think Italians have got it right.
Another salon de cuisine! Raul had spare tickets and invited Melisa and me.
These salons are amazing; not only do you get to eat loads of delicious specialty foods from artisans from all around France, but these people are so much fun to talk to and such a breath of fresh air from outside of Paris. And by the way, whoever says that French people don’t like Americans (and lots of Americans on the homefront say this) couldn’t be more wrong. Everyone asked me so many friendly questions about where I’m from and what I think of France, etc etc. Speaking French certainly changes the relationship, but that’s no surprise…if they don’t speak English and Americans come not knowing any French, of course communication is difficult. But in all my time in France I’ve never had anyone dismiss me because I’m American, and yesterday was a particularly American-friendly day.
Et voilà, la gastronomie:
10 mars 2011 à l’Espace Champerret dans le 17ème
welcome to Porto.
29 février 2012
February vacation included a fair amount of babysitting, a touch of illness (pas grave), some much-needed spring cleaning, and a 3-day séjour in Porto. When I think about it, it really had everything we needed…friendly people, beach (même s’il fallait trop froid pour nager), and Port wine, vinho do Porto (même s’il est surtout un apéritif).
Despite our detailed (ha) tourist map, which essentially told us nothing other than that the winery we were looking for was on the other side of the river, it took us ages to reach our destination. We were starving by the time we got there, having climbed and descended many hills that are probably steep anyway but seem much steeper when you’re that hungry, and having climbed and descended them a couple of times since we got lost(ish), and were welcomed by some hearty free samples of Port wine. We ordered the wine/cheese package afterward in a desperate attempt to get some food out of it (by the way, Portugal has delicious cheese), but nevertheless were just slightly giggly as we dutifully followed the English language tour group through many barrels of very old wine.
After the tour, which included very detailed explanations regarding the age of all the barrels and how the wine is stored and kept cool and mixed to make specialty blends, Christa asked a fellow tourist to take our photo. “Ahhh….!!!!” The woman looked startled for a moment, then looked delighted and took the camera and pointed to the button to indicate, ‘I press here, yeah?’ Christa murmured to me, “what were they doing on the English tour?”
lemon trees outside of the winery, Taylor’s (very Portuguese-sounding, I know).
Vila Nova de Gaia, 29 février 2012
I don’t know if it’s widely known that smoking is permitted in bars and restaurants in Portugal, but it is. When we first noticed it at dinner, it was just one woman, and we just found it a bit surprising at 8:30 pm in a near-empty restaurant, as we had been under the impression that it was an EU thing, banning smoking in restos. As the night wore on, around 10 pm we suddenly realized the place had become packed, and every table around us had crowds of diners, all smoking. There was a very large table of women next to us, most of whom were blond, and all were smoking, their cigarettes raised high, heads thrown back in fits of laughter. We stared down at our food and then up at all the smoke in the air, and I peered behind me at the woman with a cigarette who was poking at her chocolate cake, and Christa said, “where are we?!?” No idea. Weird, wild stuff.
11 hours of sleep followed by a bowl of oatmeal loaded with cinnamon and sprinkled with unsweetened cocoa and sugar, and washed down with a big cup of Gunpowder thé vert menthe and some Brazilian coffee. Should keep me running through a day of class, commuting, babysitting, and whatever else the night brings.