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Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Montpellier, 2nd Day

Isn't it amazing, something which always strikes me when I visit France, is how a person who has studied the language for 8 years in school with teachers rigorous to the point of cultural fascism, is entirely unable and clueless when faced with the dreaded Restaurant Menu. All one's hours of trying to comprehend the sheer lunacy of the subjonctif, or the subjunctive tense, come to naught, and one is reduced to utter imbecility when one has to admit one has no idea what one has ordered — not even whether what one has ordered is fish or meat, let alone the subsect of said fish or meat item.  I used to despair, when not even my trusty pocket dictionary would reveal the secrets locked within le menu but in my old age (ha!) I have adopted a more philosophical tack, and accepted that eating in France will always be a culinary adventure and a mystery on par with the holiest of holies.

So tonight, at a lovely restaurant called Les Bains de Montpellier built not only on the site, but literally within the confines of a Roman baths, right behind L'Opéra on Rue Richelieu, I bravely ordered things of the set 30E menu without having any idea what the first or second courses were.  Turns out, the first course, Brochettes de caille were not either bruschette (guess #1) nor seafood on toast (guess #2), but little lumps of steak on a stick, drenched in an apricot sauce — quite divine.  The main course turned out to be veal medallions, and the dessert (about the only thing on the menu which I felt confident over) was 3 different créme brulées: vanilla, red-currant and liqeur, and a chocolate mousse one that almost took my tongue with it on its way down.  Who knew there were such wonders in the world of créme brulées!  I would love to take some classes that were only on restaurant vocab, perhaps combined with a cooking course at the same time. Mmmmm.

Gosh, do forgive me for thinking with my palate and tummy alone, but I do do do LOVE a good meal.  I figured I might as well enjoy myself while I could, because tomorrow is London for 4 days... and as much as I do adore London, a culinary hotspot it is not.  My apologies to the Britons — heck of a language, rocking literature, cool history, and hey, you folks can lay claim both to Shakespeare and Mark Rylance (idols to yours truly), but cooking... cooking y'all could improve on.

That said, it is beddy-bye time once again. More reportage once I reach the other side of the Channel :)

Guys, thanks for all your awesome comments and messages — you delight me and warm me, and I'm thinking of you all.

Avec amour

Tags:  Travel



Blogger Dr. Virago said...

While I agree that good food is probably still more widespread in France than England, on the high end of trendy food, London has become quite the hotspot of foodie culture in the last 5-10 years or so. No, really! And on the low end, there's always good East and South Asian food.

OK, just had to stick up for current English foodie culture. :)

June 13, 2006 6:27 PM  
Blogger Anniina said...

I know you're right, Dr. V - it is much different and better from say 15 yrs ago, and yes, London is absolute tops for Indian food and Moroccan food. Just got here, so scouting out something to eat, and will report later :)

June 14, 2006 2:14 PM  

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