Thursday, 10 May 2012

Eating in Paris

Yay! I'm back from Paris, with my sister. The whole idea was to meet her there and come back together because last time she had to stay a day and a night in Paris before catching the train and had to do everything alone, including eating, not the nicest thing in the world. Some of our plans were revised. We decided that we had already seen the sites and been to all the museums on several previous occasions, so we focused on being silly together and having a gastronomic experience. We went to the Polidor on the first night and it was very enjoyable.

On the second day we went to Quartier Latin to explore the second-hand bookshops and had a look at the menus around the place. After reading at least a hundred different menus, we were confused and slightly disappointed because the vast majority of the restaurants were tourist traps, serving mediocre food as "cuisine française traditionnelle." But in the process of vetting the restaurants, our taste buds were tickled by the prospect of eating moules.

Our hotel was in Montparnasse, where there are many seafood restaurants, so we headed back to that neck of the woods, refreshed ourselves at the hotel and went out in search of our beloved mussels. I don't know if we were word blind after reading so many menus, but none of the restaurants appeared to have moules as a main course. The poshest of the lot had huge flatscreens instead of printed menus and we never managed to read everything before the page changed. We stood there waiting for the screen that interested us to return and again didn't managed to read everything and so on and so forth. Of course we were laughing like idiots all the while, but when we spotted moules on the main course menu, we decided to go in.

Best avoided!

A combination of factors conspired to put us through a very bizarre experience. My sister had forgotten to change her shoes and was wearing sneakers. We read their menu too many times. We laughed too much. Etc, etc, etc. The minute we set foot inside the restaurant, a swarm of waiters descended on us and we were informed that they had no tables and we had to sit at what they called the oyster bar. It was a high circular counter, with extremely high stools around it. We're both very short, with corresponding short legs and had great difficulty scaling such heights, especially while having fits of laughter. But we made it and the rudeness champion of the world handed us an i-pad showing the menu in German. After a while we managed to change the language to French and located our mussels, which, as part of the conspiracy to make us look bad, was the cheapest item on the entire menu. The waiter's contempt for us was palpable. We were alone in the dog house, where we could see several empty tables in the three adjoining rooms through the tanks full of handsome lobsters. We should have left at this point, but the promise of some nice, fresh mussels with lovely sauce stopped us. They arrived, plentiful, in very hot cauldron type receptacles, without any sauce whatsoever. We started eating and they weren't too bad, but quite salty. The waiter gave as glance and asked if they were ok. My sister said they were a bit salty and he dismissed her comment: "You just have to drink more."

We finished eating, he cleared the counter and handed us the i-pad again. The desserts were pretentious, very expensive and somewhat obscure, so we handed the i-pad back and asked for the bill. We paid and resisted the temptation to blow our noses in their immaculate napkins before we left to have delicious desserts in a very nice, friendly restaurant across the road.

I described this experience in detail because it was the most memorable and funny. In all the other restaurants we were treated with respect and had delicious food, as expected...