Thursday, 21 May 2009

Fresh morels and normandy cider

Last Thursday, whilst in Paris I woke up at one point in the early hours of the morning to someone singing on the street ‘I’m singing in the rain’ but in French. Yes I am really in France; this made me smile as I slept on further.

This was the view from my hotel window on the fifth floor. A small market below, you can hear the market traders setting up stall.
We stopped at a patisserie outside our hotel and purchased our picnic breakfast, D got to try his French. There was no ‘pardon monsier, so he was well understood. We also had our first petite cup of café noir costing 2 Euros each at La Brazza, a bar tabac brassiere. Then walked to Parc Moreau to sit in the sun and enjoy the views and eat our pastries when it started to rain on us.

We took the Metro to Ségur with the plan to visit Saxe-Breteuil Market: where we were greeted by cheese, olive, bread and fruit and veg stall holders. I was excited to come across this stall featuring fresh morels and blue mushrooms and perhaps some of the world’s minuscule mushrooms. I have never seen any of these in the fresh form before.
I was also surprised to see these thin asparagus stems on sale, I don't know what you call them, but they were much thinner than the normal asparagus we see at home. It must be a french delicacy.
After visually taking in the mass delightful offerings of this stall, we decided to make some purchases for our movable lunch. We got some rocket, beet and salad leaves and tomatoes. From another stall I purchased some traditional bread and D got some olives, we ended up with more than we wanted, but again that is what happens when you are a tourist and unable to converse well in another language.
We finally arrived at Eiffel Tower and decided to sit down on a damp bench and make ourselves our sandwiches. How fresh can you get?
During our wanders, we also stopped at an indoor market, occupied mainly by butchers. I took a gander at a counter that had some Lebanese food, even though we did not buy anything from the stall, this nice Lebanese man freely gave us some of his apple mint cordial. On our way out of the market, a bottle of Normandy cider caught Ds eye, which he decided to purchase. Then it was a long walk to Marche des Batinolles. When we got back to our hotel room we snacked on some of our culinary purchases and watched some French TV to my amusement there was an episode of Plat un parfait (I think that’s what it was called) a French version of 'Come Dine with me'. This episode focused on Moroccan food with orange being the theme.
Because it was so wet outside and my little feet were hurting from all the walking, we decided to go to a Moroccan restaurant round the corner from where we stayed. I remembered seeing on their menu an option for Vegetarian cous cous costing 12 Euros per head. I did not really want to eat cous cous as I knew I could make this dish well at home, and the point of travelling to other places for me is to eat something you would not normally eat at home. But I justified our decision as this meal was going to be authentic and made by a Moroccan family restaurant. When the dish came to the table it was a generous portion, enough for four people I would say. I looked at the gravy sauce in which the 7 vegetables sat and said to D ‘wow, I can never get my sauce to get like this. The last time I had a dish with oiliness on the surface like this was when I lived with my parents and my mother made a chicken dish. It must be the generous olive oil?!’
We ate, feeling rather pleased with ourselves that we had made a good choice. As I ploughed the serving spoon to scoop up some chickpeas from the bowl, I also managed to scoop up what appeared to me to be a piece of gristle. Surely not, on the menu at the entrance it clearly states Vegetarian cous cous. To confirm my doubts, I asked D ‘is this what I think it is?’ He affirmed it was chicken fat. I stopped eating immediately. I should have trusted my instinct (the oiliness in the sauce was actually animal fat), but I also put my trust in the establishment. I was quite mift and wished I could vocalise both my disappointment and complaint in French, but was unable to. D told me not to think about it and further as I would only wound myself up. This experience certainly put a further damper on eating out in restaurants that were not vegetarian.


  1. I am so sorry about your bad experience in the restaurant. It can be hard being a vegetarian and traveling.

  2. It's one of those things, I kinda of expected something like this to have happened on our travels (no matter where we were), so it did not come as a complete surprise. I won't let it bother me too much, but I did want to share the experience with others.


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