Fool for France

I have been helping a friend find an apartment. It means a lot of visits to rather dismal places. I define that as no shower, no storage, bad light and tiny, useless kitchens. 

Many people have commented on these tiny kitchens, marveling at the great meals that emerge from them. Well, yeah, the writers are typically guests at a dinner party. Of course the food will be good. The question is, what are those people eating every day?

That depends on the person. All those skinny French women you see? They love the tiny kitchen because they don’t eat. They don’t cook and they don’t eat. It’s espresso for breakfast, hold the croissant. Lunch is a green salad, hold the dressing, and still water; sparkling water causes bloat. Dinner? Grissini, or grissino, as they will put on weight if they eat more than one, and carrot sticks with green tea. Size 2 is not a job. It’s a calling.

I wasn’t in France for the era of family lunches and dinners, every single day. My housing search tells me that older family-size apartments have decent kitchens, so the kitchen quandary is a nonissue anyway. 

From what I used to see on the tiny kitchen front, ordinary humans would make a one-dish meal on Sunday and maybe Wednesday, then try to make it last. Then microwaves came in and everyone went to Picard, the store that sells nothing that is not frozen. The quality is better than you might expect but still not exactly quality. I couldn’t deal with Picard, with its rows of coffin shaped freezer cases. I kept thinking I would wheel my cart past the mythical cryogenically preserved head of Walt Disney or the fictional body of Laura Palmer, maybe both. Then I’d just freak out and run away screaming. As an ex used to say, I have a rich inner life. I guess that’s nicer than saying I’m weird.

And now? That bag in the photo? It housed a to-go container. My kitchen is okay, thanks, but there I was at Le Petit Retro, staring at a half-finished dish. I couldn’t let the last few bites of amazing Iberian pork go down the drain, not with Jacques waiting at home. Notice that the bag advertises a delivery service. There are a few now; I am just snobbish enough to prefer the literary reference/pun of Toqueville. So really, these days, if your kitchen holds a wine rack and a telephone, you’re good to go.

Restaurant food, eaten with your feet up while binge-watching Better Call Saul. Who could ask for more? Maybe I don’t need a kitchen after all.

9 Replies to “What’s for dinner?”

  1. I think that a neighbour kept Picard in business….apparently it was quite say that you shopped there whereas admitting to Lidl probably had you drummed out of the Brownies.

    I went with her once and had the pleasure of seeing the owner of a very smart chateau restaurant loading up his van- though I doubt that he owned up to where he shopped.


    1. Hohoho. That whole “faites à Maison” thing is pretty full of loopholes. Actually, I wish the food were better but even the basics, frozen veg and all, leave something to be desired.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. They are and they do. You want to read the fine print, though. That’s where they tell you whether they made it from scratch or heated up some prepared thing, then “elaborated” it on site. What is elaborated? They arranged it on a plate and added some parsley? Honestly, I don’t know. Here is a link to an article in Slate that goes into detail:

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’m a Cook from Scratch type. It’s rare, though. People have been mysteriously finding excuses to come to my place right at meal time for about 40 years, now, so clearly the whole home cooking thing has been on the way out for some time. It’s a shame. You can cook a lot of terrific stuff in about half an hour, load up a crock pot, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I only have a crock-pot/slow cooker in France (no oven or hob yet) , so I am now an expert.
        I like to ply people I like with good food and wine anyway, and I offer no excuse for that- followed by either a slow scenic stroll or some good live music– a perfect evening

        Liked by 1 person

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