At Unexpected Wanderlust, each blogger comments on 25 blogs every day in an effort to get our blog out there in the blogging community. I’ve noticed that the articles I click on the most are the ones with lots of pictures of tasty food. So in keeping with my own somewhat lazy and gluttonous habits (which I assume you have too) and in repentance of the long and pithy article on ethical travel I wrote last week, I present to you: a tour of Paris through the medium of what else, yummy food.
I went to Paris over a long weekend while I was studying abroad in The Netherlands, and had a magical time I hope to never forget. Of course all college-aged budget travelers should be very familiar with the classic hostel breakfast: two types of starches, butter, jam, and sugared coffee. I was well used to this rocket fuel by now, but let me tell you, I still was able to surprised, even at the somewhat dingy Montmartre hostel my Swedish friend and I stayed in. Although the presentation was crude, the bread and coffee was some of the best I’ve ever had. The croissants and baguettes were flaky and soft, tasting as if it was dripping in butter before I even put butter on it. And then when I put butter on it it was even better. I had heard many horror stories about the expensive Parisian prices, and was ready to rough it a bit on our long weekend, but luckily we didn’t have to. A college friend of mine who was currently living in Chartres and formerly studying abroad in Paris showed us the best cheap eats. We went out for Thai in Paris’ Chinatown and even sat next to Scarlett Johannson who tried her best to zone out our excited whispers. Unfortunately my hand was a bit too shaky and my spirit a bit to proud to take pictures of this fine meal crammed full of yummy Japanese mushrooms and other vegetables I had been dearly missing in the Netherlands.
The next day we went to another of our honorary Parisian friend’s recommendations. It was truly a meal I will never ever forget, perhaps one of the best of my life. For me, price always factors into taste; a bad deal will sour even the finest ingredients. Au Pie du Sacré Coeur, was nondescript, located in one of Montmarte’s charming catty corners lined with steep steps and autumnal trees. We waited outside for about 30 minutes, excited for the place to open, as more and more simplistically elegant Parisians lined up with us. All good signs. My mouth was watering. We ordered from the TEN EURO prix fix menu. Yes, you heard right. Ten euro. In Paris. Three courses. But wait there’s more. We sat down to a basket of buttery flaky baguettes as our garden salads, mine with chicken gizzards braised in tomatoes, onions, and wine, were brought out. My Jewish upbringing has trained me to truly appreciate the nutty and full bodied flavor of good chicken gizzards, but I had never thought to eat it in this way. I would let out a little audible groan as each bite was by turns savory, sweet, and fresh. I loosened my pants. Next course: steak au poivre with the most delicious fried potatoes which had a true earthy and rich flavor. I couldn’t believe this! I thanked God for my incredible luck to be eating such delectable food in one of the greatest food cities in the world. Food which I could actually afford as well, which was a nice change of pace for me! I unbuttoned my pants, and dived in. My Swedish friend opted for the fish instead, while I, the American choose steak because, hey who doesn’t like to embody the occasional stereotype? Last but not least, the creme brulée. This was my first time trying the famous desert because I always thought it was out of my price range. I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, but ended up scraping the bowl, and eating half of Martina’s too. The creme brulée tasted of vanilla, and a bit of lavender, the top was burnt to a delicious crackly crisp. Pure heaven. After that incredible meal, I didn’t think it was possible to find something nearly as good for the rest of the trip, and consigned myself to getting a bit ripped off for my next major meal. I gallivanted through macaron shops and creperies, pretending that I was immortal and would never die. Climbing the Eiffel Tower, walking arm and arm through incredibly charming parks, stately streets, and modern art museums I was beginning to get more and more excited as I noticed the slight twinge of hunger in my stomach grow as the sun went down. It was time for dinner! It took a bit of searching, but we found the perfect place, all on our own! A quaint restaurant (a bit touristy, a bit not) offering a prix fix menu that included wine too! 15 euros for bread, white whine, fish, and pate. I was the king of the world!! Could you tell how happy I was? Spot the almost empty basket of bread on my left side. The pate was creamy and yet light, the fish was delicate and even included freshly crisped skin, my favorite. I had an incredible time in Paris, and was sad to go the next day. The city of lights, love, wistful memories, and perfect food was a place where I truly felt I belonged. I didn’t even mind the homeless person who spit at me on the metro, it was all worth it, all part of the adventure. I left Paris with a baguette sandwich in hand, shoved full of peppery salami and sharp cheese, checking to see if the sandwich was slathered in butter. It was. Oh, it was. The moral of the story? Never be afraid to follow your stomach, even if you think your pocketbook will hate you for it. You might be pleasantly surprised in finding that you you can in fact have it all.