How to Be Parisian: French Feast | EUROtoday

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Stephen finds a French feast as troublesome to digest as college dinners.

Οne of my earliest, and worst, college reminiscences was the results of misplaced generosity. I used to be 5, and it was my first ever contact with college canteen mashed potato, consisting of fifty% water, 20% over-boiled potato, and 30% salt and varied unidentified (and doubtless now unlawful) components. Exactly the type of faux meals that offers English delicacies such a nasty popularity among the many French.

I took one mouthful and rapidly scraped my plate into the serving tray that was mercifully in the midst of the desk. A dinner girl got here by, a type of matrons in nylon overalls, and congratulated me on my wholesome urge for food. Generously, she slopped a ladleful of mash on to my plate and, misinterpreting my horrified silence as expectation, adopted it up with a second. Still getting no response, she urged me to tuck in, picked up my fork and tried to stuff a wad of tepid cement into my mouth. The solely approach to cease her was to be sick everywhere in the desk.

Paris was my oyster

My first ever Christmas Eve in Paris impressed flashbacks to that humiliating day, though the meals was of infinitely greater high quality. I had a brand new French girlfriend whose mother and father generously invited me to spend Christmas with them, and it began out splendidly.

We started the night with champagne and blinis heaped with tiny orange pearls that had been, I used to be assured, edible fish eggs. Drizzled with contemporary lemon juice, these had been scrumptious and I tucked in as if I hadn't eaten for weeks.

Then my girlfriend's brother turned up with an enormous tray of contemporary oysters that he had purchased actually minutes earlier. He'd had them opened by the native fishmonger, so that they had traveled unhygienically although the polluted streets of Paris, however I used to be promised that this was not an issue. I'd by no means eaten oysters, and the brother warned me to examine that they had been alive. Squirt lemon juice on them, he stated, and in the event that they don't twitch, they're lifeless – don't eat them.

Everyone watched as I gingerly carried out the examine for important indicators – twitch- after which tipped my first oyster into my mouth. My first impression was that it felt like a nasty assault of bronchitis, however then the ozone kicked in and I received the tangy style of the ocean a citrusy sea – and swallowed… “No!!!”

The brother defined his cry of ache – you need to chew the oyster earlier than swallowing, he stated, to verify it's lifeless when it enters the abdomen. Otherwise it defends itself with antibodies that may make you allergic to oysters for all times. This hadn't occurred but so, quaffing sufficient champagne to make the primary oyster drunk, I started gorging myself, chewing steadfastly each time.

Next, although, issues received a bit delicate. My girlfriend's mom produced a big brick of what appeared like meat pâté surrounded in lemon icing. It was, after all, foie gras.

Fish eggs for appetizer! © barmalini / shutterstock

Not so good for the goose

Even again then, I used to be ideologically against the concept of ​​force-feeding a goose till it turned overweight after which consuming its bloated liver swathed in yellow fats. But this was at a time when, in France, nobody objected to any sorts of meals. If you stated you had been vegetarian they expressed pity for you and served you hen, or stated, “but you eat charcuterie?”.

What was I going to do? I didn't wish to create a diplomatic incident, so I simply stated, “no, thank you” and slurped one other oyster.

“But you must try it!” all of them urged me. I watched in horror as an over-generous slab of foie gras was squashed on to toast. My well-meaning girlfriend lifted it to my lips and… Well, let's simply say everybody in that Christmassy French room was transported again in time to an English college canteen. Shame, because the French say. The disgrace of it.

Stephen Clarke's new novel is Merde on the Paris Olympics.

From France Today Magazine

Lead picture credit score: © MARIE LISS

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How to Be Parisian: French Feast