Taking a break from the pattern of long French meals yesterday, Cathy and I enjoyed a day of eating little “snacks” of things like macaroons, falafel and banh mi.Cathy dropped by Pierre Herme yesterday to pick up a 100g box of assorted macaroons – a box which included salt caramel, chocolate-and-passionfruit, olive-oil-and-vanilla, and my usual favorite, pistachio. Sadly, there was none of the usual fabulousness (aka Pierre Herme’s rose-and-lychee flavored macaroon, the ispahan), but I guess we all have our crosses to bear.
Of course we had macaroons in the morning: meringue and butter-based filling – the breakfast of champions.We spent yesterday afternoon at the Louvre – I lurve the Louvre. The main pyramid entrance is so spectacular – just to stare at the perfect symmetry of the I.M. Pei pyramids and of the grand Renaissance buildings is to see a work of art.I did have to laugh out loud when I was waiting on line to pay 5 euros for what you must now specify is the “regular” audiotour, because what’s heavily advertised at the Louvre now is the 10-euro “DaVinci Code in the Louvre” audiotour. The French failed to resist American commercial opps yet again.
Despite our goal of trying to see galleries we’d never visited before, we still ended up passing all the “big” attractions like the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Venus de Milo. So I can only conclude that the Louvre has placed these items at such key traffic points that even if you’re not trying to find them, it’s impossible to “skip” them and their attendant crowds.The Winged Victory, to be fair, is a pretty majestic statue. How interesting that something missing a body part as expressively important as the head can still convey so much power. I guess good posture is key. Personally, I love the folds of her clothing – they’re so sexy and dramatic, and I am amazed at how sculptors conveyed wet sheerness in stone.
I enjoyed the Napoleon III apartments because I get to think about how someone could believe he should live in a place so covered in gold and big “N” symbols. The decor is blinding and blatant. Where does a person get an ego like that? (Clearly I love making these comments because then I can convince myself that I’m such a down-to-earth person). Did Napoleon III do much besides be born a relation to the “original” Napoleon?
At around 4 p.m., we were starving, so we hopped on an east-bound bus to the Marais, where of course we had the delicious falafels served at the famous L’As du Falafel, 34, rue des Rosiers. Large, crunchy-on-the-outside, mealy-on-the-inside falafels served on a hot pita with all the trimmings (fried eggplant, cucumbers, red and white cabbage and tahini galore) – what’s not to enjoy?
Because it was too early for dinner and too late for lunch, we were thrilled to find the restaurant uncrowded. It gave us time and sightline enough to take in the full camp decor of the place and view the celebrity photos on the walls. There’s one photo of Netanyahu in a leather jacket and jeans, taken at the restaurant. I mean, if the guy visited Paris from Israel and decided to have a falafel (which are everywhere in Israel) instead of at a million other restaurants in Paris, there’s got to be something legit about the place.
We did some window shopping, and then, despite still feeling full from our L’As du Falafel run, we couldn’t resist the gelato at Amorino on rue Vieille du Temple, so I tried un petit stracciatelle for 3 euros that was so-so. The gelato was kind of watery (i.e., the texture wasn’t thick and fluffy enough), but Cathy loved her banana gelato, so who knows.
Just a few hours after the Amorino snack, Cathy and I ate the banh mi that she’d picked up yesterday at Khai Tri on rue de Tolbiac. I’m sorry I missed her run for the sandwiches because apparently, Khai Tri is a Vietnamese bookstore that happens also to sell banh mi. You can see the obvious connection between books and sub sandwiches.The banh mi were delicious – sweet, spicy meats, refreshing and crunchy slightly-pickled carrots, cucumbers and red hot chili peppers served on a cripsy baguette.