One Day in France, This Happened…
Paris Cuisine: A Full Affair
I gobbled up my second helping of the meal happily. I was feeling a bit gluttonous for having seconds since no one else was, especially after the cheese and crackers appetizer, but hey – they offered – and I was in Paris eating one of the best meals of my life. How could I turn down any bit of this delicious Paris cuisine?
“They” were my distant relatives; sisters Nathalie and Nadia, and Nadia’s boyfriend, Marc. I was 20 and spending the first few days of my winter break during my semester studying in England staying with Nathalie in her cozy two bedroom walk-up near Paris’ city center. I was reveling in the amazing home cooked food I was being fed at Nathalie’s. A welcome change to the cafeteria food and McDonald’s (all I could afford, thank you British Pound) cuisine I had been eating for the past couple months. Tonight we were at Nadia and Marc’s apartment in a distant suburb of Paris. I thought I had eaten well thus far with Nathalie, but the meal tonight was amazing – with flavors unlike anything I’d ever had before. I was becoming absolutely obsessed with Paris cuisine.
I was currently shoveling round two of a type of salad into my mouth. It had cold corn, tuna, eggs, and avocados. The dressing was light and accented the salad with a balsamic-lemony flavor.
I leaned back after finishing it, rubbing my stomach happily. I was stuffed and hoped dessert was light. (In my short time in Paris, I’d already learned that dessert was a given after any meal. Even breakfast with its daily dose of chocolate croissants that Nathalie would get from the nearby bakery, which seemed like dessert to me. Heaven.)
Nadia cleared our salad bowls and then put down large plates. Hmmm, this must be a big dessert. Or maybe they don’t have any smaller plates. Then she went back to the stove, leaned over, and pulled something out of the oven. It did not look – or smell – like dessert.
Nadia said something in French with a proud look on her face.
“And now for the main course,” Nathalie translated as Nadia did not speak English as well.
Wait…what? I started to feel slightly panicky. What I just ate two helping of wasn’t the main course? Nathalie had never served salad with the dinners she made so I just assumed we were having a gourmet salad for dinner. In hindsight I guess it was much less elaborate than what Nathalie usually served for dinner, but in America having a salad for dinner wasn’t that weird so I just assumed… Oh why did I assume and why did I have that second helping? Stupid overeating American, I chided myself. I was in France. I should have known they’d have multiple courses and they wouldn’t just put everything down on the table buffet style like we do in America. Oh, and this dish looked so amazing; breaded chicken alongside green beans and miniature mushrooms. I so wanted to enjoy it. But I didn’t know how I was going to eat another bite.
I took a deep breath and tugged on my jeans. Ok, I can do this. I watched as Nadia spooned a heaping amount of the dish onto my plate and tried not to cringe. I had to finish this. But did she have to give me so much? Did she not just notice I devoured her previous delicious concoction?
I took a bite and nearly swooned. Ok, if I have to overeat myself to death right now, at least it is eating this perfection of a dish. The chicken was juicy and the breading had an oregano and pepper type flavor and the vegetables had a rich, buttery taste.. My stomach gladly expanded to welcome the food making devotees of my tastebuds.
Somehow I was able to eat every last bite of the chicken…and the SECOND course of cheese (camembert and muenster this time around)…and dessert chocolates. Nathalie, Nadia, and Marc all laughed when I emphatically declined seconds.
I may have never eaten as well as I have that night. I also have never been as full as I was that night. (Except maybe for that time my friend Robbie bet me $5 I couldn’t eat another bowl of Spaghetti at the endless pasta bowl dinner at The Olive Garden. But that’s another story.)
A couple days later I said good-bye to Natalie and Nadia and went to meet friends at one of the Paris backpacker hostels in the city center. Most nights my friends and I bought baguettes and cheese from the market to share in order to save money on dinner. But thanks to my Parisian distant cousins I still felt like I got a whole range of authentic French cuisine during my week in Paris, so was totally ok eating that — and it helped that the bread and cheese were some of the best I’d ever had. So fresh! So creamy!
Yes, Paris cuisine is amazing and it’s totally worth eating too much of it.