feast or famine (& other food stories)

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Before climbing La Tour Eiffel on our final day in Paris, we stopped in at Cotume Café for some caffeine.  It had been a long morning of museums- from Musée d’Orsay to l’Orangerie- and we were hungry.  What we were truly hankering for was a good, sticky, banana-nutella crêpe, but with no venders en route and a failed attempt at visiting Blé Sucré (beware of the Parisian holiday!), we were unable to resist the exquisite bowl of yogurt behind the glass at Cotume.

As we noshed on the tangy greek yogurt, scooping bits of passion fruit and popping red currants up like we hadn’t seen food in weeks, we realized something.  Our trip had been a consistent rotation of feast or famine.  This small snack at Cotume notwithstanding (it was, after all, rather spontaneous), every meal had been one of abundance following hours of drought.  Feast or famine.  Starved or stuffed.

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The young midwestern American couple next to us (who struck up a conversation regarding the truly artistic yogurt bowl we’d since turned into a bit of a Jackson Pollack) had coined their own term for the feeling of unbalance.  They’d been experiencing a similar rhythm, and likened the state of being to that of a child after a long day at the zoo; They’ve walked their tired bones all around the grounds, waving at elephants, dancing for monkeys, and singing that one song from the Jungle Book too many times.  The sun is hot, their feet are tired.  They are zoo-zonked.  Yes.  It couldn’t have been a more accurate description.  That slap-happy exhausted feeling which stems from too much of an enviable activity.  There is only one cure for zoo-zonked individuals, and that involves a seat and a meal.

There were so many interesting food encounters during our stay…an inordinate amount of moules frites, the perfect picnic at Canal St. Martin, a Norman café owner inhaling fist-sized hunks of baguette steeped in brie, multiple iterations of our new favorite salad (the chevre chaud), the most delicious pesto-smothered escargot in Monmartre, a truly memorable omelette in Oberkampf, rows of vendors offering slices of abricot et tomate at the Bastille Marchée, flaky pastries at Du Pain et Des Idées, giant macarons and calvados-filled candies in Bayeux, rhubarb tartelettes in Pont L’Évêque, a fun cheese plate at the bar I was too shy to visit during my last trip to Paris, and striking vegetarian gold at Bob’s Kitchen.

One thing remained a constant, though; Nothing- not broken jaw bridge nor angry English coffee snob- could keep us from our daily baguette.  It was a ritual we took to with stunning fervor.  We learned early to order la tradición (the baguette’s more rustic counterpart) and found a certain pride in comparing the chewiness of this morning’s to the crunchiness of last night’s.  Of course, this amount of carb consumption does appear to negate any possibility of “famine” from our days.  Enter the subcondition of zoo-zonked: a state of possibly artificial hunger pangs induced by an insane amount of walking and/or photographing architecture.

Call us cliché, but we’d prefer culturally cloudy and zoo-zonked, if you don’t mind.

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