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Monday, May 11, 2009

Paris.............I'm longing to return!!

I could start every morning with a fresh French croissant, fresh fruit, and a large cup of coffee.  Of course, the perfect place would be at an outdoor cafe with a newspaper in hand, and camera by my side!  Oh how I long for the streets of Paris.  The aromas of fresh bread wafting from the bakery, the hustle and bustle of people heading to the metro, the parks, the architecture, the arts, and of course the food....glorious foods!  

When I think of Paris, it seems like it was just yesterday that I walked the cobblestone streets and dodged a few yellow flashing lights from cars speeding to work!  A vibrant city, full of life.  A place that never sleeps.  
The joy of going to an outdoor market and smelling the fruit ripe off the vine or trees. The flowers in the market that would overwhelm my senses with their beauty and their scents!  I do like to think that if I lived there again, I would take the time to go to the individual stores and bakeries. Do people still walk home carrying a baguette by their side?  

So many fine eating experiences in Paris.  The wonderful Jewish Deli near the school where I was able to teach conversational English for an hour or two a week.  The magnificent ice creams, fresh crepes baked right in front of my eyes.  Fauchon was the most exclusive place to purchase any food products at the time.  It was the most expensive place to my knowledge.  What a feast for the eyes.  

Le Notre bakery near where I lived in the 16th arrondisement.  Pastry too beautiful to eat, resting on the glass shelves, luring the customers into the shop.  It lured me in so many times, I had to purchase two of his cookbooks!  The art of wrapping pastries in a box, sealed with a sticker of the store name, and tied with a ribbon was still in fashion.  What pride the individual owners have of their stores.  It is truly a place where people enjoy their food!  

Some of my favorite items I ate over and over in Paris:

Pain au Raisin   (delicious pastry with raisins)

Croissant:  wonderful for breakfast with a cafe au lait

Petit Suisse:  a dairy product that is wonderful!!!

French Yogurt: a breakfast staple

Croque Madame near the Sorbonne University...a great sandwich of ham and Gruyere toasted with a fried egg on top!  (Only the French would think of that)

crepes: wonderful, hot from the crepe stand!

The delicious soups served at the bistros with the locals.

Steak frites:  thin steak pan fried with wonderful french fries on the side.

Every once in a while we would go to the American Legion (#1) and meet up with other Americans for a taste of American foods.  McDonalds? Sure I tried it......once!  I just didn't want American food.

Of course, the families that opened their homes to me: 

Mme Faisant was a terrific cook and appreciated my love for eating. She made sure that I had everything that was typically French.  After eating tripe, tongue,  rabbit, and I think even horse meat, I quit asking what things were.  I just ate with gusto....  She made a wonderful strawberry layer cream cake that took ALL day to make! I will never forget the fresh flavors.

The Micallef family who lived in Sceaux; M and Mme Micallef, Laurence, Anne, Marie-Severine, and Sophie.  Who shared with me terrific meals and conversations.  I will never forget them or the wonderful times at the dinner table.  I still have the cookbook that they gave me for Christmas: La Bonne Cuisine Francaise.  I remember the terrific vegetable cream soups that Mme would make for those cold winter evenings. The sun setting around 4 pm and the long metro ride, and walk home.  Quite brisk and refreshing... Oh, how the aroma of hot vegetable soup would warm me up immediately.

Yes, I'm feeling nostalgic for life in Paris. Would it be the same?  No, because I am no longer the free- spirited university student.  I think I would have a different appreciation for everything there.   My dream is to live right in the city in a town home with a rooftop view of Paris.  I remember walking home late one evening in Paris, someone was on their balcony, playing songs on the accordion that were "oh so French".  The pride and joy from the music lifted my spirits and I thought... "this is where I belong".  I felt "at home" from that moment.... 

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Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar