In true FamilyStyles fashion, these next few posts are dedicated to our mom, an amazing person and one of the reasons that Irene and I place such an importance on good food and family. We did some traveling around Paris and Southwest France last month to visit friends, a trip which happened to come soon after reading My Life in France by Julia Child. After consuming tales of Parisian markets and laborious and decadent French meals, my mother was inspired, bien sur, to do her own search for some serious French food. As the lucky daughter already on the same side of the Atlantic Ocean, I joined her for an epicurean tour of La Belle France and her wealth of gastronomic delights.
From simple picnics of bread and cheese on park benches to Michelin-lauded establishments of the culinary elite, my mother and I ate our way across both the city and the countryside. Through well-laid plans as well as happy coincidences, our meals were shared with old friends from all over the world either living in Paris or happening to travel through the region at the same time.
One of the amazing things about Paris is how easy it is to find incredible food on every corner, from boulangeries to patisseries to shops teeming with foie gras or artisan chocolates. We started one day at Sainte-Chappelle on Ile de la Cite, a popular tourist destination that was completely worth the wait…
and then proceeded to visit another the spectacular sight of Paris – the fromagerie.
This shop, on Ile-St-Louis, featured a front window display teeming with chevre of all shapes and sizes. Some looked like moldy grey logs, others like newly hatched dinosaur eggs, others like petrified stones or lumpy balls of grout scraped off your shower tiles. But the inside…smooth and creamy and bursting with earthy, grassy flavour.
That’s some French chevre, up close and personal. Best to be eaten in a small park behind Notre Dame with some paté from the bucherie, a fresh baguette from the boulangerie, and rhubarb nectar from the gourmet shop round the corner.
Our massive picnic on the Seine unfortunately left us too full to sample the wares of the street market behind the Hotel de Ville. But next time I’m definitely going back for these potatoes, which are probably fried in goose fat or sausage lard or something equally naughty and French.
To contrast with the steaming hot, oil-splattering grease bombs above were gorgeously speckled beans…
…thick stalks of white asparagus and tiny bitty shoots of what I think is wild baby asparagus on the right, like something you’d find in a field and mistake for a weed rather than a perfect little bite of springtime.
I was curious as to how it would taste, and was lucky enough to get a chance to eat some later that evening, at one of the best meals of my life…
More France to come!