Paris

When I booked my first ever ticket to Paris, almost 5 years ago, I was obviously as excited with the very charming bistros I would find there as I was with the unsurpassed Louvre, the majestic Champs-Élysées and the unique Eiffel Tower. Actually I had a very important quest: degust Foie Gras for the first time. For reasons that lie in economic and social-democratic issues, by that time this delicacy was very, very, very difficult to find and extremely pricy in Brazil, therefore our meeting had always been postponed.

In Paris, the first restaurant I visited was in Montmartre, just close to the Sacré-Coeur church. The bistro had maybe 20 seats all together, and luckily we managed to have a seat before it was completely full. There was no Foie Gras on the menu, but that was no problem. The place seemed to have emerged from an old movie: very old, small, woody, dusty, baguetty… Just like I always imagined! There was an old lady on the floor (she was very old, believe me), an oppressed servant in the kitchen and a dog at the till. Yes, a dog. And the till was positioned just at the corner, inside the kitchen. Yes, there was a dog at the till, which was in the kitchen. But who cares?! We are in Paris! Who cares that the table is dusty?! We are in Paris! The jug of water is dirty?! So what? We are in Paris, for heaven’s sake! There’s a dog in the restaurant? And? Any problem? Of course not! Even if they served that dog between two slices of baguette, we’d eat it, because we are in Paris, my friend! Woody Allen would agree with me.

The truth is that the meal was amazing. I had terrine as starter, and Beef Bourguinon as main. My lovely girlfriend had the best courgette Lasagne of her life, according to her.

At this point I have to mention that before we travelled I had bought a diamond ring to my girlfriend (the diamond was the size of an ant’s ear, but it was still a diamond), as I planned to ask her in marriage in Paris, which is a very original idea, I know.

So, at the big night, we set out to Champs-Élysées and at some point we decided that we were going to have our meal there. We chose our restaurant and we were sat on a very nice and comfort table, just next to a couple of lesbians who had a dog dining with them. Very cute indeed.

I had a look at the menu and soon I found what I had always looked for: there, at the bottom of the starter list, shining like a star, He, the Almighty, was waiting for me: Foie Gras with bla bla bla bla, and bla bla bla. That’s it! That’s why I am here! That’s why I was born! Bring it on!

So the order was placed, and there we rested for a while. I was so nervous that I almost forgot I had a diamond ring in my pocket. Anyway, after fifteen French minutes, I saw the waiter coming. He looked like an angel flying around with a golden tray full of holy food for the sinners. He placed the small plate on the table, and it took me a couple of seconds to see what was on it, because my eyes were full of tears. Finally I could see it, and it was so beautiful that I nearly fainted. A small slice of goose fat liver, flat, white and delicate, lying just in front of me defenceless, just waiting to be glorified. At first I didn’t know how to react, how to behave in front of it. Shall I use a knife, spread it over the toast? Shall I try it plain in order to feel its virtue without any external intervention? Actually my first will was to kiss it, but I sensibly realized that this could cause some bad judgements from the people around, so I just stared at it for a while, and in a brisk and passionate movement I placed it right on the centre of my mouth, where it comfortably rested on my tongue. Oh, boy, that was something. The flavour quickly spread all over my mouth, triggering frenetic spasms throughout my body. It was delicious, absolutely delicious. It was worth every single second of my errant life that I spent waiting for that moment. A great experience indeed.

I think I’ve already come too far in this story, and before you decide to leave this post, I must say that that night was one of the happiest nights of my life. Not because of the Foie Gras, but because the love of my life said “yes” to me.

English Tapioca

Following the poem mentioned by John Potter on his previous comment, which begins with a memory of eating chocolate Tapioca, here it goes the English version of Tapioca that I made a couple of months ago when I was carrying out some experiences in my kitchen.

For those who are not familiar with Tapioca, it has many different versions throughout the Americas, but in Brazil it’s a kind of wrap or pancake made of cassava flour and water. It can be savoury or sweet. For those who are not familiar with cassava, it’s the potato’s poor cousin.

The English version consists of Tapioca stuffed with golden and shiny scrambled eggs in a bed of beans in tomato sauce. Enjoy if you can!

 

English tapioca

A Religion

I have long dropped out of the church, as the only thing that attracted me there was that short moment when I could enjoy Jesus body in a form of a flat piece of bread – sometimes, especially during Easter, there was a bonus of that flatty being plunged into holy wine, which used to be an ecstasy for a 13yo boy – so I had to find something else to replace my religion, and gastronomy fitted in this gap astonishingly well. I don’t remember exactly when I started worshiping beans, potatoes and cutlets, but my proud Mom says that since I was a baby she would blend all sorts of things (I’ve never dared to ask about what these things were) and put in my baby bottle, so according to her that’s why I like to eat EVERYTHING, and I think that that was a the germ which developed my keenness on food and drink.

I think about food every day, every time, every moment of my life, from the time I am dragged off the bed until the time my brain turns off at night. Obviously I think about other things, but it seems to me that everything is in a certain manner attached to the context of food, one way or the other. For example, sometimes I am studying, reading an article, and my brain goes like this: “…an enouncement is not a unit of semiotic signs, but an abstract construct that allows the signs to assign and communicate specific, repeatable relations to, between, and among objects, subjects, and statements. Hence, a discourse is composed of a stew prepared with beef braised in red wine and beef broth, flavoured with garlic, onions and a bouquet garni, with pearl onions and mushrooms… Hey, wait a minute, what am I thinking about?! This is beef bourguignon!”

As a result, the act of eating has a huge importance in my daily life. Eating is never something simple, trivial, ordinary, normal, regular, typical, common or whatever other blasphemic word you might use to describe this sacred process. And it’s important to stress that I don’t mean that all my meals have to be very elaborated and expensive. What I mean is that the meaning inherent to the meal is also very important. And so it is the context. Regardless of what I am going to shove down my esophagus, without meaning and context no food would delight me. Maybe I should call out Gunther Kress at this point, but since I want to make this simple, I’d better say that over the next weeks I am going to try to present some simple ideas and situations in my life related to my passion for food, and I hope I get to express at least a little bit of this overwhelming feeling that fills my heart and overflows my soul.