The Time I (Finally) Tried Snails

Before class, I got up early to go to 81 Rue de L’Universite “Rue de Loo” where Julia Child lived. I wanted to just take a little look, and I caught a morning glimpse of the metro commute as I rode there over the elevated tracks.
It’s a very simple building, not in a really bustling area, with just a few random cafes nearby. However, it is right down the street from the Assemblee Nationale bearing French flags and all. It’s cheesy, but I tried to imagine her walking down these streets and first falling in love with Paris.

Today we went as a class to Pere Lachaise Cemetery – the most expensive neighborhood in Paris. Teo said a plot of land for a grave is millions of euros. It was a huge labyrinth of cobblestones and little monuments of many famous people, including Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein.

As we went along each grave, we would put a pink rose on the tombs of the people we talked about. Teo had brought the bouquet and we took turns putting roses down – mine was on Sarah Bernhardt’s.

 

Even the cemetery itself was pretty, though they the idea of graves kind of creeps me out. It was similar to a park with fallen leaves, as we passed by a row with tombs from the Holocaust. Down the row there were many sad metal statues of drooping turquoise bodies like skin and bones. It’s sad to see remnants of that period in Europe, in the place it occurred.

 

After our three hour cemetery excursion, I was starving. We stopped in one of the first cafés we saw near Gambette with an orange awning. A common practice here seems to be having a price for a combo meal of a entree and plat OR plat and dessert. Here it was 14 euros for my lamb and tiramisu framboise (raspberry).

Though it was more expensive than a typical lunch for me, I was impressed that we could get a French meal of lamb and dessert for about $15. I really loved the sweet lamb sauce and almonds for texture. The tiramisu was less impressive – though the cream was good, it didn’t flow well with the coffee cake parts but was too separated for my liking. We also had some trouble with the waiter because he didn’t speak English and some members in my group were picky with orders.

In the afternoon I had some free time, so I went window shopping in the touristy areas near the Louvre. Sorry to my inner Parisian, but I wanted to see the souvenirs. I didn’t take too long, though, because I met one of my friends from UCLA for dinner. Alfie is doing another travel study program that goes to four cities and she just got to Paris. We met near Cluny at Le Bistro Du Perigord, which a girl from my program recommended.
We ordered that combo option with three courses. My entree was (finally) escargot, something that I knew I definitely wanted to try in Paris but have been procrastinating for no particular reason. I wasn’t sure where to go or when to get it to make it special. My fellow student had recommended it, so I knew this was the trusted place. Alfie and I actually ran into her there with her friends, which is how it goes – we find places and share them and go back and have favorites.

The escargot actually was really delicious as long as you don’t think about it! It tastes like seafood, like little chewy scallops or something. And they’re just covered in garlic and oil and maybe a pesto-like sauce? It’s salty and chewy, like a good delicacy. You use that little eyelash curler thing to hold the shell, while a two-pronged baby fork takes the little piece of meat out.

This was a rumpsteak with an amazing cream-like sauce and soft vegetables – dare I say ratatouille? It’s fun to order in France because even with translated menus, you never really know what you’re going to get because they’re Google translated and often a little wrong. You see “steak” and “vegetables” but have no idea how it’s prepared. Before cutting into that thick slab of meat, I was scared it would be rare like the French do things, but it was just right.

This was my dessert. A sort of caramelized apple kalua coffee ice cream pastry God knows what (thanks Google translated menu). The little pastry shells were so flaky and crumbly, and inside was a huge ball of ice cream and those wonderful apples. A little fruit/vegetable/thing garnish was placed on top, which tasted like a cross between an orange and cherry tomato. The sauce around and on top was a fabulous caramel coffee – a great combination when mixed all together.
I would completely recommend this place – the waiters here were so attentive and refilled our water like five times. Très bien.
Maybe on this blog it looks like I’m eating out a lot, and I certainly am more this week than prior weeks because time is winding down. However, when I don’t post pictures of my meals, I either had a two euro pastry for breakfast or I made something simple (pasta, likely) in my room. It’s not always extravagant, but there are those days like today where we spent 2.5 hours on a real three course French meal done right. And I’m not even scared to take the metro by myself anymore!

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