I first arrived to Paris one June morning in 2009. After spending close to 3 hours stuck in legendary Parisian peak hour traffic (I’d elected to take the bus rather than navigate the RER and two metros with my giant suitcase), I finally found myself inside the Saint-Germain apartment that was mine for the month.
Unable to face the idea of unpacking, showering and dressing after nearly 24 hours in the air, and starving, I turned to my emergency weetbix and soy milk stash buried deep in my suitcase. So perhaps my first meal in Paris wasn’t that remarkable, but I made sure my next one certainly was.
I set out in the sunshine along the rue de Sevres, feeling a million miles away from the cold, grey Sydney winter I’d left behind.
My mission – to find some food, and quickly. I passed several possible cafés, but something made me hesitate. I guess I was nervous, knowing my French was virtually non-existent and my lack of confidence did nothing to help me be understood. After a few minutes, and several failed attempts to reason with myself, I came across my saviour, in the form of the food hall at Le Bon Marché.
Compared with the minefield of misunderstandings that could potentially occur in a café, a supermarket was easy. I figured the basic principles were the same, collect your items, go to a register, read the number on the screen and pay – et voila – lunch!
That first day, overwhelmed by sheer choice and the beauty and care that was taken to lay out the ingredients, it took me some time to settle upon my purchases. But finally, I found myself with a full basket.
I returned home to my apartment to greedily examine my treasures. Six perfectly ripe, fragrant petites tomates; a deliciously shiny green cucumber; a generous slice of beaufort cheese; a delicate scoop of lightly marinated green and black olives, et bien sur, a half-baguette to tie it all together.
To accompany this, I had also picked up the cutest little half-bottle of rosé, and for dessert, some divinely creamy goat’s milk yoghurt with a teaspoon of confiture des fraises mixed in to cut through the sourness.
For barely ten euros I enjoyed a truly exquisite meal. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was in Paris, with the whole summer before me, but sitting there, I felt like I had just tasted possibility.
Rue des sevres metro sign image courtesy of chatirygirl on Flickr.
La Grande Epicerie sign image courtesy of mikeandanna on Flickr.
Interior of La Grande Epicerie image courtesy of A La Cuisine! on Flickr.