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Eating in a new country can be intimidating for any traveler and I believe that one of the most important things you can do is to study up on the food of where you’re going, otherwise you can be stuck with food that you don’t want or you can feel overwhelmed and embarrassed. Food is very important to a lot of cultures and can be taken very seriously, however most cultures are willing to teach you about their food. So as long as you are willing to try anything you won’t have a problem.
I can go on about how when you’re a traveler you have to be very open minded about food but what I want to talk about is a country, France, and a city, Paris, that takes its food more seriously than the average culture. Food is an art to them and even how you cook an egg is very important. The French, more specifically the Parisians, have taken cuisine to a whole new level and can intimidate even the biggest of foodies. For the longest time I was under the impression that I knew a lot about food and especially french food but the French always have a way to remind me that I still have lot to learn and that I’m merely a novice.
My last visit in Paris was meant to be a food adventure, all I wanted was to eat great french cuisine throughout my few days that I was there with Ashley. I forgot however, that if you do not plan ahead, Paris can be a very difficult place to eat if you want good traditional French food. One of the few problems with Paris is that it is a very touristy city and you can get lost in all the tourist mumble jumble. Do not worry though, Paris has plenty of good restaurants as well, you just have to weed through all the tourist traps. When you are looking for restaurants in Paris look for the tiny bistros along the many alleys. This is a great way to get an affordable and traditional French meal. One of the more famous bistros is Chez Georges on 1 Rue Du Mail. This bistro is famous because Julia Child ate lunch there at least once a week and the restaurant has not changed since it opened in the 1920’s and holds true to classic French cooking.
I was ecstatic when I got reservations at Chez Georges and was able to take Ashley out to a nice lunch in Paris. I have nothing negative to say about my lunch at Chez Georges, it was phenomenal but I did not come prepared. I definitely embarrassed myself at the beginning of this lunch. We were led to our tiny little table which was so close to the other tables that they had to pull the table out so Ashley could sit down. We were given our menus and a wine list and this is when my panic attack began. I took the wine list to see if I could find a nice bottle for a reasonable price and quickly realized that there was not a wine cheaper than a hundred euros but the bigger problem was that I know nothing about French wines. I started going through the list trying to find something that looked familiar to me but it might as well have been Chinese.
I remember it being very hot in the bistro and struggled to take my suit jacket off while it seemed like everyone in the restaurant was staring at me. I felt very rushed by the waitress to choose a wine and also to order our meal since we were the last reservation for lunch. I looked over the wine list for what seemed to be an hour not knowing what to get but in reality it had only been ten minutes. After asking the waitress for just a little more time again I was feeling very overwhelmed and then what seemed to only be two seconds later the waitress was back asking for our order. I panicked and grabbed my food menu for the first time and picked my lunch in a rush. After our waitress walked away I realized I had no idea if I actually even wanted salmon for lunch and I still hadn’t picked the bottle of wine. Ashley realized I was having this very embarrassing panic attack and took the wine menu away from me and just picked the first bottle on the list.
After my panic attack, I calmed down, realizing I had overreacted, and had a wonderful meal. We had an amazing meal of duck rilletes, ratatouille, cornichons, sole au mueniur and tarte tatin, all classic French dishes. This was the meal I was looking for all trip and I almost ruined it by feeling overwrought by the menu. Next time I find myself in Chez Georges I will have done my research on french cuisine and wine. Paris is a great place to eat but there is nothing simple about their food and that is why it is an art form. I highly recommend Chez Georges, they do everything right when it comes to French food. Remember when your in Paris it is all about the butter, cream, and sauces! Oh yea don’t forget about the wine! And as Julia Child would say Bon Appetit!