Okay, one last Paris post in which I will relay two stories before we head to Berlin.
First story: Lunch at the Musee D’Orsay. When I was in Paris in 1987 with my mother, we ate lunch on the Isle de la Cite at a tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant. I don’t remember what Mom ate, but I ordered the only thing that I recognized on the tiny menu: steak. Steak Carpaccio, to be exact. No, I didn’t know what the “carpaccio” part meant, but Mom assured me that it would be tasty. I think she was trying to broaden my horizons.
Well, the plate came. This clear glass plate, with 4 thinly sliced pieces of raw steak, swimming in some sort of sauce. Marinade, as it turned out. I’m a brave eater. So I took a bite. It was vinegary. It was savory. It was strong. It was, actually, not that bad. I ate one piece, two, three…and I struggled through the 4th. Yes, it was good, but oy, it was EXTREME.
As a reward my mother allowed me to order dessert – a rare treat. I ordered chocolate mousse in an orange sauce. It was beyond belief good. The presentation left a little to be desired, however…it looked like, well, something that certain cities order you to pick up behind your doggy.
Flash forward to one year ago. I had told the carpaccio story several times over the years, and in so doing, I had forgotten one key element: the word, “Carpaccio”. Somehow, over time, it became Steak Tartare.
Now for those of you who know what Steak Tartare is, you may go ahead and laugh. But for the rest, read on.
We went to lunch at the Musee D’Orsay, in this beautiful room full of chandeliers and frescoes on the ceiling. We looked at the menu and there, in black print for the world to see, was “Steak Tartare”…and I said, “That’s what I want”. The waiter said, “Are you aware that Steak Tartare is raw meat?” I replied, with a smile, “Yes, I’m good with that.” Images of carpaccio danced in my head while we waited for our food.
And then came the meal. The waiter set my plate down in front of me and I blanched. My husband looked at my plate, looked at me, and grinned.
What lay before me was a perfectly shaped circle of raw ground beef, topped with a raw egg yolk.
I looked at my husband. I looked at the meat. I took a bite. I took a few more bites between wheedling bites away from my husband and his fully cooked meal. My husband, bless his heart, helped me out. When we walked away from the table, we left behind a small mountain of meat…and a good story to tell to anyone willing to listen.
Second story: If you can’t tell, I love the skylines of Paris. My husband asked me, while we were packing to leave Paris and head to Berlin, how Germany would differ from France. I wasn’t able to answer him – it had been too long.
After we got to Berlin, the answer was obvious – two answers, really. 1) The people weren’t all wearing black and smoking. And 2) The skylines can’t compare. Poor old Berlin has all new buildings – well, a LOT of new buildings – that’s what happens when your city is bombed to smithereens in a world war. Paris, on the other hand, has THE PARIS LOOK. It has these triangular buildings at the end of each block. It has round dormer windows and buildings smack up against each other and chimney pots that rise above the roof lines like Legos.
P.S. – In Berlin I ordered Steak Carpaccio. It was delicious.