Paris may stir up images of the perfect romance for some, strolling hand in hand, arm slipped lightly through arm, with an elegant Parisien or Parisienne dressed head to toe in Dior under the Eiffel Tower or in the brilliant moonlight under the sparkling lights lining the Champs Elysées. Or shopping on the très chic Avenue Montaigne, snapping up Chanel suits or that perfect little black dress paired with those gorgeous Louboutins. Or Paris, where art meets the intellectual, spending an afternoon admiring the Renoirs and Monets, studying La Joconde or Le Penseur, or sipping absinthe in a sidewalk café with your literary circle debating Sartre or Camus. Old men playing boules in the Jardin du Luxembourg, couples entwined on fountain edges in Les Tuileries, well-dressed children scampering through the zoo at le Jardin des Plantes or under la Roseraie.
Paris, for those such as I, evokes the odor of freshly baked croissants wafting out of open doorways of a corner boulangerie; the aroma of baguettes and chocolate intermingling with the lunchtime scents of steak frites and heavenly stews floating from bistros. Crêpes sold from stands on the boulevard or oysters tumbling down banks of ice under awnings in front of brasseries where towering seafood platters are placed before chattering businessmen or ladies who lunch; market stalls up and down roadways piled high with peaches, nectarines, cherries for the tasting or cheesemongers offering paper-thin slices of nutty comté, tangy chevre, pungent maroilles. Paris is synonymous with food and good eating, pastries and fine dining, from the Michelin-starred to traditional home cooking, la cuisine bonne femme, just like grand-mère made. Who doesn’t remember their very first pain au chocolat, their first jambon beurre baguette eaten from a crisp paper sleeve while sitting above the flowing Seine? Who can forget sipping their first café crème at a sidewalk café while watching the world dash by? Paris is indistinguishable from her cuisine, whether sole meunière and steak tartare et pommes gaufrettes, or couscous or nems, now well integrated into the culinary world of this most food centric city. And pastries, mousse and tartes of raspberries and lemon, chocolate éclairs or a bar of the finest chocolat tucked into a simple chunk of baguette?
Which is why I selected April in Paris for my Monthly Mingle. France and Food just seemed natural companions, dining companions, if you will, and so I requested all to cook or bake something French to bring to the table. So join us à table, pull up and chair with Meeta and I as we offer you entrée + plat + dessert for this month’s Monthly Mingle roundup.