food diplomacy through the story of a meal

Archive for L’Aus Du Fallafel

First days, first meals

I arrived in Paris on Saturday to a grey and rainy city.  I am going to enjoy all it offers and make sure my food offerings and choices meet the usual expectations. 

I have visited both the Marche de Vanves and Marche de Clingnancourt this past week-end to see remarkably similar stuff to the fleas in Los Angeles.  We are all connected.  However, there is much more furniture and less of interesting jewelery.  Is it the economic times that is forcing sellers to keep back the good stuff to got a better price when needed?  The grey skies are looming large and they break away to rain on a daily basis.  Metro to Marais, for a Sunday of retail therapy as they are the only stores open in Paris and the people-watching will be good! 

The best falafel is found on Rue des Rossiers. However not eating the pita is a bit anti-climatic.  I have had less carbs in the last six months and nothing is as challenging as Paris.  I eat the falafel with a plastic fork and the lack of joy permeates the experience.   Perhaps dinner will give a sense of the foodie joy that is missing.   Walking around the Marais is like being in the most stylish shetel. I stopped into a fun Parisian store Zadig et Voltaire and found out that I can try on Parisian clothing now that I am about 64 lbs lighter. I am surprised that things fit.  Old images die-hard and the purses, which I was only able to buy until recently, still call my name. 

Dinner ended up being a warm bowl of mussels and frites as the rain was coming down cats and dogs.  The delicate mussels and warm wine broth were a perfect vehicle for the frites that have been sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Dunking them into the soup did make the frites soft, but sharing the spoon with the tender mussel was a traditional taste of Paris.

Tonight I am at Au Passage in the 11th.  It is s brand new restaurant off the Passage Saint Sebastien which serves tapas and regional fare.  I have started with a glass of rose from Corsica and roasted pumpkin with basil leaves and shaved ricotta salatta.  I spread the softened pumpkin and a mint leaf on the crust of multigrain bread.  It called my name!  The saltiness of the cheese and the floral note of the mint leaf is lovely with the warm roasted and carmelized pumpkin.

For the 2nd plate, I am having pan seared scallops on a bed of brussels sprouts purée.  These three scallops are topped with a bit of tapenade and mint leaves again.   The brussels sprouts purée is lovely, the scallops are crunchy on the top and soft on the underside.  I imagine that the entire scallops are cooked on the just one side and that residual heat cooked it through.

The place is packed and it would be wise to book in advance, however you can sit at the bar and enjoy the meal.  I finished my dinner with a mild blue and one last bite of the multigrain bread crust.

Not bad when you can only have 6oz per each meal.

Tomorrow is my cooking salon with Miss Lunch and I cannot wait until we plan, shop, and eat.  I plan to photo and post throughout the day.


A good appetite, but everything tastes terrible

For a foodie, an off palate is a terrible thing to have.  While I am hungry, my palate has not been cooperative.  I have returned to eating regular food (except for raw, nuts, sugar, and bread).  I have put my toe in the water for all kinds of food, however nothing hits the spot.

Let’s Be Frank hot dogs with grilled onions (without the bun) – no go
• Crustless quiche with mozzarella, butternut squash and pancetta – no go
•  Turkey burger, avocado and fat-free 1000 Island dressing (without the bun) – no go
•  Chicken makhani, yellow lentils, and raita – no go

What do I need to do to feel sated?  Just when I thought I was over sugar-free popsicles, I find that it is the only thing I want to eat.

It is strange that what you want and what your body wants are sometimes at odds with each other.  Taste is not singularly located in the mouth.  There are two cranial nerves that innervate the tongue and are used for taste: the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) and the glossopharyngeal nerve (cranial nerve IX).

The facial nerve innervates the anterior (front) two-thirds of the tongue and the glossopharyngeal nerve innervates that posterior (back) one-third part of the tongue.

Another cranial nerve (the vagus nerve, X) carries taste information from the back part of the mouth. The cranial nerves carry taste information into the brain to a part of the brain stem called nucleus of the solitary tract. From the nucleus of the solitary tract, taste information goes to the thalamus and then to the cerebral cortex. Like information for smell, taste information also goes to the limbic system (hypothalamus and amygdala).

Given the complex relationship between our mouth and brain, I think it is important to know what is going on post-surgery.  Many other folks post about this problem, and there isn’t a sufficient answer as to why it happens, however it does end.

I have been walking farmers’ markets, viewing cooking shows, and reading cookbooks to find inspiration, creativity, and sustenance–but it is not coming.

In light of this, I will turn my attention to people whose food and culture is foreign to me and see what blooms.  I will be spending 10 days with individuals from Norway, Netherlands, Nigeria, UAE, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, India Canada, the UK, Russia, and Eastern Europe, etc. and hope that as we get to know one another, that their food stories will give me some much-needed inspiration.

I deeply believe that the sharing of a meal connects us.  Food, cooked with love, nourishes the body, the soul, and creates relationships.  I raise my fork to gastro-diplomacy. (For more information about gastro-diplomacy, please read the following posts on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s website or read Paul Rockower’s blog on the Huffington Post.)

L’Aus Du Fallafel, 34 rue Des Rosiers, 4ème arr.

The BEST falafel in Paris can be found in the Jewish Quarter.  It was a religious experience.