I fell in love with Julia Child this past summer. If you haven’t read My Life in France, please, please, please read it. I swear you’ll enjoy it, and I guarantee she’ll charm ya 3 pages in. She teaches you what she learned – that in France (elsewhere in Europe as well) food is respected. It is worth exerting effort over, worth a presentation, and worth the time it takes to get a seat at the table by the window to enjoy the plate and the drink that you order.
She’s also hilarious, a fun writer, and obviously a talented cuisinier. I couldn’t help but think Julia was in the Parisian air this past weekend. Even when the first night’s dinner turned out to be sushi. Yes, Japanese sushi in Paris, France. But we were recommended (and then walked to) the restaurant by a lovely Frenchman, if that counts? Stopped in the middle of a rolling street, I asked him in very broken french if he knew the way to a certain cafe we were hunting for. This effectively began the end of any negative French-person-Paris-people-snooty stereotype we’d ever heard. Because not only did he stop and smile, he put down his briefcase, pulled out his iPhone, told us how to get there – then suggested a closer spot (the sushi place) with a “good atmosphere” and a great place across the street for drinks. He then told us how to walk to the Notre Dame afterwards, to see the cathedral at night, with lights, and “good atmosphere.” And then he walked us to the bar because he was going the same way as well.
A day later, we found ourselves discussing different metro line options in the late afternoon. After leaving the Catacombs, our metro ride made an unplanned stop due to a construction project on the railway. Everyone had to get off, walk to the next station, and reroute their busy day. We decided to have lunch. A walk up the stairs placed us on Boulevard St Germain, just kiddy corner from Le Danton.
The waiters were tall and in fancy suits, they swiftly danced around the room delivering plates and glasses, and the hostess – an older woman who is best described as simply ‘European’ – was most welcoming. She had the warmest smile. It was bustling inside just like the busy corner the restaurant sits on, but the service was personal. A cheese plate, a bowl of soupe à l’oignon française, salads, and sandwiches were ordered… the atmosphere was kind and real.
There were a couple hours spent sitting outside over scenes like these: looking out at scenes like this: And the whole time you can’t help but feel lucky and grateful. It’s a treat to see and smell and taste and hear this city, this little part of the world. It’s also like a gust of hopeful wind to know, for rock-solid sure, that in the midst of the world’s not-good, there are bits that twinkle: the helpful man at the metro gate, the hat at the vintage shop, the kind eyes of a passerby, the reflection of Autumn colors on the canal.