|The ardoise at Le Petit Vatel. May I recommend the boudin noir? Black pudding/blood sausage is not to everyone's taste, I know, but I suspect you'd all appreciate the Gâteau au cédrat confit (Cake with preserved citron). . . Or that clafoutis....|
But we got back there the next evening, even though we'd stopped for late tea and beautiful pastries at Ladurée on Rue Royale. . . . As far as I can tell, we must have really enjoyed our meal, because my dayplanner notes show that we tried to go back there for lunch on our last Sunday there. Doors closed again.
2007's notes remind me not only that we ate at Le Petit Vatel our first night in town, but also tell me that I started with marinated anchovies, had a chicken tagine as my main, and an île flottante for dessert. Paul's starter was the terrine de maison, followed by roast pork, with chocolate cake for dessert. I'm surprised to see that even before the blog had me making notes about meals, I was already jotting down details from the menus.
Here's another mention of Le Petit Vatel, from a page in my 2011 pocket-sized (3.5x5.5) Moleskine -- as you'll see, by this point I've become a bit more expansive, but still no sketching,
Another language moment -- we ate again at Le Petit Vatel. Have we probably eaten there 10 or 12 times over the years? Not often quite so early, but we planned an early bedtime after our travel day. We managed everything in French, as we can and do and there wasn't a moment when anyone offered English. A German couple came in shortly after us and where his French faltered -- What was Tarama? -- English became the go-between language -- fish eggs. . .
And then two American* women about our age, perhaps a bit younger, came in. Every caricature except the over Botox. Although to be fair, one woman was quiet, dressed in black and pearls (but large, costume I think, or just showy). The other, her hair stern but with a dramatic flap, dramatic highlights, brightly striped top, etc., asked loudly "Parlez-vous Englese?" Oh, so loud. So oblivious to everyone else in the tiny room. Then went through each menu item with the patient server, translating, then consulting with her friend, wanting to know if there were bones in the fish, etc.
A bit later two young women, early 20s, first trip to Paris, speaking English that sounded Canadian to me, but only speaking at a moderated, across-the-table voice, worked their way through the menu items with curiosity and pleasure, checking for translation on their phone. I wanted to applaud, honestly.
To be fair, the two older women settled in afterward, enjoyed their meal very much, complimented the server, etc.
The Mastercard machine didn't work, and in chatting over the frustration, I said something about "beaucoup de défis," and she got me to repeat, then "Ah oui, beaucoup de défis" [many challenges]. Same with Paul, saying it was "gelée," the machine, frozen, blocked. And then she told us how "mignon" (cute) our accents were.
Better head back to the hotel now for my second coffee and a croissant with Paul. . .
*In deciding to share this entry, I spent some time balancing my wish not to offend with my interest in articulating my observations, from my particular perspective. Please recognise that my identification of the women in the entry as "American" is not meant to generalise. However, there's no avoiding the fact that my journal reflects some obvious judgements on my part, judgements I might generally be more careful about sharing here on the blog.
I wrote and deleted and rewrote and deleted a few paragraphs trying to analyse and articulate and justify that judgement. In the end, I decided to let my May travel journal pages speak for themselves and see what you think. . . The only thing I'd like to be clear on is that, while my journal entry for that day was clearly focussed on the pleasure I took in my growing competence in French, my judgement of the two women my age was not based on their lack of language skills, per se. . .
As usual, any relevant -- and civil -- comments are welcome. We could have a conversation about eating in another language/country. We could chat about restaurants you've visited over the years as you've returned to a favourite destination; we could speak of good and bad restaurant behaviour, home and abroad; we could talk about your cute accent. . . Ah, the possibilities!