life is a feast, you just have to be hungry
Partially due to all the wonderful things I did eat.
Saturday afternoon I met fellow Expats Charlie and Ari for lunch in Chinatown.
We started the adventure in Tang Frères, an Asian supermarket, and admired the sauces, ginseng and soy products, spices, adorable desserts and strange fruits. Soon just looking at food was too much for our hungry bellies, and we took off down avenue d’Ivry in search of a good dim sum restaurant.
We ended up in a large restaurant packed with Chinese families out for lunch. We read the menu with difficulty, as all our favorites had been translated into awkward French, and gave our orders to a flustered waiter.
I had ginger chicken, which I doused in chili sauce, and an iced lemon tea. I also made the mistake of biting into a bright green pepper from a large jar on our table, much to the amusement of the Parisians beside us, as tears rolled out of my eyes and I took on the heavy breathing of a woman in labor.
When the fire on my tongue went out I dipped into Charlie’s prawn dumplings and sweet pork cake. The flavors weren’t anything to brag about, but I liked the strange textures playing on my tongue.
For dessert I ordered a large piece of steamed vanilla cake, which arrived smoking in a beautiful bamboo box. It was light, fluffy, warm, and perfectly sweet.
After our Chinese lunch, another Asian supermarket, a French supermarket, tea and conversation at Charlie’s, I took the fast metro home with an invitation to a Mexican dinner party at Ari’s that evening. I happily accepted and told her I’d bring guacamole and vodka.
Later that evening, after a long, squishy metro ride, I arrived at Ari’s host family’s place, armed with two grocery bags.
I became quickly acquainted with all the other American exchange students as I threw together a guacamole in the tiny bohemian kitchen. Charlie mixed us all up cocktails as we all moved around the kitchen, whipping together the meal and getting to know each other. Other than Charlie, it was all girls, and all were curious about the au pair lifestyle and what I was doing in Paris.
It was a good atmosphere, with Ari throwing spices in a pan, everyone digging happily into the guacamole, and the drinks and conversation flowing over good music in the small artsy space.
After fajitas, a giant crumbling cookie and a fruit salad, everyone was laughing, singing, and drinking together. When it was coming near the time of the last metro, half the group set off home, while half of us set out to find some night life.
Walking to the metro, high on life, and drunk on vodka, I couldn’t help but yell obscenities at the young French men yelling at us from the other side of the street. As a foreigner I probably shouldn’t scream dirty pick up lines in English, in a fake French accent, while in Paris…but I never know what’s appropriate.
After dancing the twist in the metro, we were soon at Place de la Bastille with the rest of the nightlife crowd, pushing our way down La Rue de Lappe, a small street of bars and clubs.
We ended up in a small Indian bar, with great ambiance, a pumping mix of music and a round of drinks. Shaking my arms to an Indian dance beat, a cigarette and vodka in hand, I was happy to be out in Paris.
When the bar starting closing, we grabbed our jackets, took back off down the cobble stone street, and took the night bus to the Marais.
That’s where I left them. At three in the morning, there’s not much left of me, so I walked for a good 25 minutes, and unable to find the right night bus, I grabbed a taxi to take me home.
After a day of mixed cultures, I leaned my head against the window, and watched the Eiffel tower and the Seine go by as we made our way down Avenue de Versailles.
The taxi driver sprayed himself with Cologne, turned up the French radio, and dropped me so sweetly in front of my apartment that I said: “Keep the change,” before stumbling out onto the sidewalk.