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Friday, December 27, 2019

Paris Eats - Travel Through Food

When Amanda and I were planning our trip to Iceland (the land of insane scenery and expensive food) we had very different priorities when it came to where to dine, what to eat, and how much to spend on food.  I'll never forget when Amanda told me that all my money goes to my stomach.  I laughed because of just how true it was.  While food was more of refueling between destinations for her, it was so much more to me.

Food? It's the biggest reason I travel.  It's how I experience a culture, a new place, a new way of life. For me, to travel is to eat their food, to walk into their grocery stores and restaurants, sit in cafes and drink in bars. I don't want my american foods in a new setting, I want to eat what the locals eat - I want to experience a different part of the world through their cuisine with a fork, chopsticks, my hands... whatever.

If I'm being honest, the food in Denmark left a lot to be desired. Sure I enjoyed their open-faced sandwiches and drinking Aperol Spritz along the canal but for the most part? The food was just okay and their local cuisine left a lot to be desired (Danish minced meat, don't bother).  

I sort of knew this going in and I was hopeful that Paris was going to meet all of my feasting needs.  I had visions of french wine at streetside cafes, walking down the street with a fresh baguette or chocolate croissant, a lazy afternoon splitting a meat and cheese board or enjoying an order of escargot in a loud but cozy restaurant with views of a sunset and the Seine.  I had it all planned out in my brain and my expectations were high.  

As high as they were, I am happy to report that all of my culinary dreams came true and when it came to eating my way through the city of Paris, the food and the atmosphere did not disappoint.  

If you want to enjoy beautiful architecture, a romantic city and a lifetime full of history all while eating some of the best food in Europe, Paris is it. 

It's hard to sit here and tell you what my favorite meal of the trip was.  They were all sort of my favorites in their own way, so I guess this post is just a love letter of sorts, a rambling on about the things I ate, the tables I sat at, the wines I drank and how good it felt to watch the world go by at a table for two at a sidewalk cafe in Paris. 

I loved that almost every meal in France has the option of french fries (to be eaten with your fork, not with your fingers).  Steak and frites, Moules frites, all the frites - fries are my favorite food and in Paris they are celebrated.  

I loved that on your way to anywhere, you can stop into a boulangerie (a french bakery) and grab a LOAF of bread for the road.  You walk around seeing people just gnawing on a loaf of bread still in its crinkly paper and you can't help but smile.  We passed a boulangerie every day on our way to the subway from our hotel and Adam fell in love with the eclairs and flan/custards while I explored my way through various croissants, breads, and pastries.   

I loved that any hour and every hour was acceptable to stop and order a glass of wine or clink a pair of glasses bubbling with champagne.  I stopped at the grocery store for a bottle to enjoy at the hotel, stopped in street side cafes or quaint little bars for a glass of bubbly or a chilled Rosé.

I loved that cheeseboards were entire meals loaded with every variation of cheese and pate, not caring what it was just knowing it was all so good.  Cured meats and crunchy breads, soft cheeses, hard cheeses, all the cheese.  

I loved that tables were often piled with escargot tongs and the smell of garlic was always wafting through the air.  Garlicky herby delicacies and creative tools to consume them.  

I love that carbohydrates are celebrated, that bread is an appetizer, a meal, and a dessert. That you can find it anywhere anytime, fresh out of the oven, in a basket at a restaurant, or a vehicle for something delicious (dips, meats, cheeses).  

I loved that I could order duck confit and haricots verts just about anywhere I went. Crispy duck rendered in its own fat, salty and tender and simply divine enjoyed with wine. 

 I could not believe just how rich and amazing the burgundy beef stew was or just how delicately creamy and light their mashed potato pairing truly was.  I savored every bite and if I had to pick, this just may be my favorite meal while visiting the City of Lights.  

I loved that dessert was not an option to be considered, that in a world of tiramisu and flans, custards and pastries, dessert was a necessity to be enjoyed as often as possible.  Middle of the day, late at night on our way home, we enjoyed so many different forms of dessert here in Paris and oh how I wish I had a profiterole right about now. 

I love that the pizza was so amazing, hot oil and bubbling cheese and thinly sliced meat on top of a pie.   I wasn't expecting the pizza pie here to surprise me but this was our last meal in Paris and oh did it hit the spot.  Personal pizzas with an insane menu of toppings, eggplant and pepperoni (and lots of hot oil) for me.  

I loved seeing the variety of colors and flavors that France's little macarons came in and how beautifully and delicately they are packaged.  Airy little cookies with a delicate filling in an amazing variety of colors and flavors. 

I love how easy it was to stop and grab a sandwich at a street vendor, and that they came in interesting combinations like chicken and egg.  An easy lunch, a snack on the street, a stop for a sandwich to enjoy picnic style in a park. 

I loved that I could eat at open-air restaurants, sitting at a table with my legs dangling over the edge of the floor and into the sidewalk, watching the sunset and the city dwellers make their way to there next destination, or watch them stop for a smooch along the Seine. People-watching in Parisian cafes... it's simply the best. 

I loved that breakfast could be anything you wanted.  Sweet or savory, something on the go or something to be savored. I had my fill of chocolate croissants, pausing long enough to enjoy a quiche or a tart along the way.  

Paris, you held your end of the bargain.  You delivered with amazing food to be enjoyed in the loveliest setting.  I don't have a restaurant guide or a must-eat list for you, just some advice to have an open mind, have no concept of calories, and find the time to enjoy as much as you can.  

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