Paris, sinfully scrumptious

Paris, sinfully scrumptious

A Youth Backpacker in Europe
Chapter V Part II

Paris, sinfully scrumptious

City: Paris
Country: France
Currency: Euro (€)
Travel dates: 29 Apr 2008 – 2 May 2008
Accommodation: Perfect Hotel
Travel buddies: Rahma, Saravanan

Caption: Baguette with fillings.

Jiann Chyuan discovered how French cuisine could be literally sinfully delicious and why someone really needs to spare some cash to fulfil the desire of his taste bud.

There are certain subjects which one could easily relates to when it comes to France, La Tour Eiffel is of course one of them. The other very important thing, which is also a cliché, is the French food. But, to pinpoint some instantly recognisable French food, it gets very interesting.

Most people opine unless you spend a fortune in a fine French restaurant ordering some beautifully decorated plates, serving cuisine in a portion which requires you to wander around the plate for a minute or two, before you finally spot the main dish, you are not having French food.

Caption: Some pastries from Paul. I only remember the middle one, flan nature (custard tart).

The concept is nothing else but wrong. High life French dining is indeed demanding a gold stock in the garage. However, blindly unaware that French food doesn’t necessary mean painting food with gold, it actually has crept in many lives and played an important role in their daily diet.

If baguette or French stick, or “hard bread” according to my friend, is not something familiar to you, I am sure croissant and its wonderfully mesmerising layering texture has already won your heart. And most importantly, these very typical French food are cheap and are easily available in every patisserie.

Caption: Queuing to buy crêpe (left) and queuing to buy pastries.

Did I tell you also that they make very popular appearance in hotel breakfast menu? Unfortunately, I wasn’t given a choice but was stuck to baguette for my every breakfast in Paris. It was nice but I wish I had more varieties. Maybe this is just not they way Parisians think since counting number of the people carrying a baguette in their hand is almost the most interesting game to play in the morning.

Being a student, it is imaginable that hunting for superfine French cuisine in classy restaurants is impossible. And I am grateful that my rationality was not taken away by the uncontrollable desire every time when I passed by patisseries with their tantalising display of cakes, pastries and desserts, which infallibly demand a lengthy stop-and-stare.

However, I did spend a considerable amount of cash in food during my stay in Paris, justified by the fact that this is the only city so far in my travel list which I was eating out throughout. It was fun to just indulge in every single food which deserves thumbs up. But it was not always non-regrettable.

Take a look back, I wouldn’t really call my decision of paying some seven euros on three pieces of plain crêpe with a lame amount of (maybe) supreme quality chocolate sauce, which still left me in hunger afterwards, in a restaurant closed to Eiffel Tower a wise expenditure, since I was only required five euros for a jumbo size ham cheese mushroom crêpe in another restaurant near Notre Dame.

Caption: Crème Brûlée (left) and Rue de St. Michel at night.

Exactly! Though both locations never failed in gluing the feet of swamps of tourists, the difference in price could be significant. The tip is, choose the location of dining carefully and you could end up with much more enjoyment.

One of the reasons why cheap eat area is around Notre Dame, especially in Rue de St. Michel is a smart choice, is because of the competition. There are hundreds of restaurants waving hungrily to your wallet with their dazzling array of menus offering popular French cuisines at affordable prices. It is in this place where you can effortlessly dine in stress-less at as little as 20 euros. However, the catch is it could be a huge headache deciding which restaurant to go and to hunt for a table.

And don’t forget to check out set meals including starter, main course and dessert, which restaurants have to offer because they are normally the best deals. I went to this restaurant which it offered set meal for 25 euros, and what I’ve got were the must-have-famous-but-makes-me-pledge-guilty-afterwards foie gras with toasted bread, not-entirely-cooked-with-blood-streaming-out duck breast meat in black pepper sauce, which was heavenly delicious, and the never-get-bored-and-all-time-classic crème brûlée.

Caption: Duck breast meat in black pepper sauce (left) and salmon with rice.

I am certain there are a lot of question marks in your mind now. Crème brûlée was the only dessert which I tasted twice in Paris, simply because it was absolutely tasty. Compared to my first crème brûlée in Malaysia, it is simply no competition. However, it wasn’t the highlight of my adventure with French food. The limelight simply has to be on escargot and foie gras.

Ask me how it tastes like to eat escargots, or snails, I would say amazing. I never have thought I would say this. But I suffered zero hesitation to put it into my mouth when I was in the restaurant, because it smelled so pleasant and of course, looked so attractive. It was actually quite chewy as well.

What about foie gras? It is unforgettable! It was simply the best food I had in Paris. I am always not the fan of internal organs. But foie gras would be the only exception. It just didn’t taste like typical liver. It was actually sweet. And the way it melted on your tongue before streaming down your throat was simply mesmerising.

Caption: Foie Gras (left) and escargots.

However, foie gras is unfortunately also one of the best food to torture someone mentally if cruel treatment to animal is something not tolerable. If you haven’t known, ducks are forced fed for twelve days in the production of foie gras. I prefer not to talk so much about it here as you can find it easily in Wikipedia. I am feeling lucky because I’ve got to taste it before getting to know the process, which might ultimately bar me from eating foie gras again in the future.

Paris, not solely dominated by Eiffel Tower, but also of its largely manipulative French food. It is indeed the greatest pleasure to be in Paris, to start falling in love with the environment, to drench yourself in the world of food, and to dream everything possible. Where is a better place than Paris to dream?

P.S.: For documentary of the production of foie gras, please watch: