Paris Diaries: What the French Got Right
After 5 and a half hours in the Louvre, I need to sit and have something cool to drink. The French have the right idea about to serve lemonade (citron presse). If you order one in a restaurant or cafe, they will bring you a glass of lemon juice, a carafe of water, and sugar allowing you to mix your own. No water stirred in with powder pretending to be juice, this is the real thing. What I particularly like is that this situation allows you to make the lemonade as sweet or tart as one likes. This is the only way that lemonade should ever be served. As I sat there drinking my citron presse I thought about other things the French have right.

Leisurely Dining- In NY, I often have dinner and bring food home only to eat it about two hours later. In Paris they have no concept for "doggie bags", but this is unnecessary as you can sit as long as you want until you are done dining. The dinner parties there are quite an experience-they start at around 6 and go until 3 in the morning. There are often take long breaks in between courses to play music and talk. This is, I'm fairly sure, what Roman dinner parties were like. In NYC, people want to eat quickly and get up, even if they enjoy the person with whom they are dining. I often feel here people just want to "get it over with" when they have dinner or lunch. I don't like to eat quickly, and I certainly like the long breaks between courses in order to really enjoy the meal, the company, and the overall experience.

Polite Exchanges-The French are all about please and thank you for everything. There is no such thing as a completely impersonal transaction. You walk into a pharmacy, and as you put products up it's thank you very much and good bye. It's very civilized and something that I think for the most part has vanished from American society with the exception of some pockets of politeness like Minnesota ( hence Minnesota nice).

Charging More to Sit Outside-Depending on where you sit, you pay different prices for food. The cheapest is to sit at the counter, next at a table, and th
en the most expensive as outside. I'm not sure why this hasn't caught on in places like NYC where restaurants could make a killing on really nice beautiful days. I walk by restaruants with packed patios and think "There's a freakin' fortune to be made here." I think it's win win. If Pris is any indication, people are certainly willing to pay more to sit outside, and if not well I wouldn't have to wait as long for a table and the restaurants would still make more money.

I know, you're aren't with me on this one, but seriously. I think we need to adopt this practice.

a bowl of coffee for breakfast-As I learned on my first trip to Paris, that whole brimming bowl of tasty highly caffeinated coffee from a bowl with milk isn't just something they do in foreign films (I thought, much like the "breakfast spread" on Friends-no one in Paris actually had bowls of coffee in the same way no one in NY bothers to pour OJ and milk into pitchers before setting them on the table for breakfast.) It was in Paris I started drinking coffee because it is awesome. A lovely full taste. And just the jolt needed in order to walk up Monmartre to wander around Sacre Cour. First thing in the morning a bowl of good french coffee with milk and sugar-nothing like it.

Croissants-Much like bagels and NYC, you can only get really awesome criossants in France. Sorry, but it's true.

Fresh bread, veggies, and fruits-The French really value fresh food and so the little markets have strawberries so fresh you can smell them yards away. And these little markets are all over the city open every day so you can easily enjoy fruits and vegetables. You can buy baguettes baked so recently that not only are they fresh, but they are still warm. And those baguettes are toted home, slathered with butter, and served with dinner to help you literally clean your plate when you are done eating. And clean it you will, as the French make great sauces-bearnaise, au poivre, au vin. Shame to let it go to waste when it tastes lovely with a fresh piece of bread. My personal favorite pairing is a bearnaise with a whole wheat sourdough. Those two tastes complement each other surprisingly well.

And then it was time to walk down Rue de L'Opera to buy my mother perfume and see if the best chocolate store in all of France was still where I remembered it.

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