Down But Not (Quite) Out in Paris



getting repeatedly drenched and chilled is not the way to maintain good
health. I don’t know, but I imagine that
somewhere the food gods, whichever ones zapped me with a nasty head cold in the
midst of our Parisian idyll, are having a hearty laugh at my expense. Go ahead, laugh. I am still here, after all, and though
swallowing is painful, it is not impossible.

another windy day with occasional rain spitting down, but beautiful all the
same. I slept in, in an effort to ward
off the cold — skipped breakfast, but we ventured out for lunch. As we didn’t want to go far and most places
were full by 1:00, which is when I managed to drag my achy body outdoors, we
just went to a place called Seraphim, where we have had some cozy dinners in the
past. Unfortunately, what seems intimate
at dinner feels just plain crowded at lunch.

food there is always okay, not great, but we did score two really delicious
starters – a tomato for J, peeled and served in a pool of pesto with some soft
buffalo milk mozzarella. It was a
welcome, if unseasonal, mouthful of summer, and really gorgeous to boot. I had leeks again, baby ones this time,
poached and dressed in a perfect vinaigrette, coiled into a heap, surrounded by chopped tomatoes (that’s it, above.) A huge portion, and I should have just had that,
with the bread.

no, I had to go and order an assiette des legumes that was not on the
menu. It’s always interesting to see how
the French cater to a vegetarian in their midst. Sometimes it’s great. This time, it
wasn’t. J had a lamb casserole that was
dry. Should have stopped at the

we headed back to the room where I wrapped up and shivered for a while, before
taking a nap that lasted more or less all afternoon. I woke up in starts to continue reading Heat, by Bill Buford, the guy who hangs
out in Mario Batali’s kitchen to sharpen his cooking skills and ends up
obsessing about Renaissance cooking all the way to Italy and back.  I finished the book this morning and am still
not sure what I think about it, except that I think it would have made a better
blog than a book (kind of like Julie and Julia, which started off as a blog and was published as a book.) It reads like one – a journal of daily
activities with occasional ruminations on the meaning of it all, but no real
theme getting us from here to there.

didn’t love it, mostly because I really didn’t love Batali, and his personality
overwhelms most of the book. When Buford gets himself out of Batali’s orbit,
though, and hunkers down in an Italian village to think about the motivations
of artisans who obsessively, compulsively, eccentrically try to preserve the
old ways of food preparation in the face of the juggernaut of modern life, it
gets much more interesting to me.

we kept it simple for dinner last night since I insisted on staying in my
pajamas and they are not the fancy kind that can pass for clothing, but just
pink flannel with yellow duckies on them. (TMI?) What I really needed was
Lisa’s Get-Well-Quickly Tomato Soup, but failing that J went out to the shops
and came home laden with cheeses (two favorites – Langres and Picodons), salads
(carrots, haricot verts, and potato), bread, and macaroons. I am sorry to say I was unable to taste most
of it, but the Langres got through and so did the potato salad. I really love
the way the French potato make salad – letting the hot potatoes soak up some flavorful
wine or vinegar, and then dressing the whole thing with vinaigrette and chopped
shallots when it’s cool.

then I went back to reading and sleeping some more and today I feel a little
more human. Plus my mom’s surgery yesterday went well and while I wasn’t able
to speak to her yet, my sister-the-nurse is with her and says she’s doing
okay. Thanks to all for the nice thoughts
and prayers. Keep them coming.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Kalyn says:

    It sounds like you’re having a wonderful vacation. I’m glad to hear your mom is doing ok.


  2. Sorry you aren’t feeling well… but if you have to feel puny, you are doing it in the right place.


  3. Jolene Ketzenberger says:

    I’m a food columnist for the Indianapolis Star and am working on an article on the Tallents. I’d like to send you a few questions about your work with Slow Food Bloomington; got some time to respond even on vacation? I’m on deadline… Thanks. Jolene Ketzenberger Indianapolis Star food columnist or


  4. Hope you feel better! Eat a head of garlic, it’ll cure what ails you. (And I’m glad your mom’s surgery went well.)


  5. Thanks, Kalyn.
    Thanks to you too, Hank. It is definitely more fun to be sick in Paris than in Bloomington!
    Good emailing with you, Jolene — hope you’ve got all you need.
    Did you do that on purpose, Lisa? “Ail” is French for garlic. Pretty cute!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s