This is an old essay, that I stumbled upon this weekend, and figured I should post it. It was meant for the Anthony Bourdain contest.
It’s Paris. It April 22 and I have just flown from Chicago. The weather back home (last time I checked it) was snowing. The weather here-full blown Spring. I was meant to roam the streets like my life depended on it. The cabin fever from the overextended Chicago winter had made it’s mark. What I did not expect it to be, though, is do-or-die-battle with food.
It started innocently with a sandwich I ate on the court yard at the Louvre. It was on a rustic, earthy bread, roasted pepper, thin slices of dry salami unknown to me, mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, and walnuts wrapped in a parchment paper. Very simple, yet exquisite, the way that only the French can make it ….
I never got inside the Louvre, nor on top of the Eiffel Tower. From that point on, I knew one thing-priorities had rearranged. This was a food adventure. It was picnics on the grass of the Eiffel Tower with meats, wholesome bread and tomatoes bought from the local market; and wine and cheese on a bridge over the Seine river. Croque madame, croque monsieur, and quiches to-die-for sold by street vendors. My sightseeing route included places called Patisserie and Brasserie, and street cafes. After all, let be honest, food is the true achievement of the grand French culture, not Arc de Triumph or museums with the arts of European masters. No, it is a bloody veal stake, of the bloodiest kind, with a whole grain mustard, crème freche and wine sauce.
What entertained my traveling companion, who was remarkably tolerant to my obsession, was that everything measured in food. The top of the Eiffel tower was passed for a three course dinner at a small cafe, right by our hotel. The price tag was about the same and boy the cider marinated pork chop with tender asparagus on the side, was well worth it. I exchanged taking a tour boat over the Seine river for a picnic on a bridge over it and escargot dinner at Montmartre (a two-for-one special).
I am proud to announce, that by the end of my trip in Paris, I ate, picnicked and napped, by almost all it’s tourist attractions. (Yes, I also napped on the grass of plenty of public parks. You do need to nap after having a culinary orgasm. )
What does it have to do with the meaning of food made well? To me it is everything. My gluttonous Paris trip to this date is one of my greatest adventures, as well as, the biggest inspiration .