A Movable, Embarrassing Feast

I found a few euros today while cleaning my room, and I found myself missing Paris. Every country has their own rhythm, and every city keeps time. If France perpetuates the idea that life can be controlled and created with beautiful precision, Paris proves that living perfection exists. I visited Paris with a school group when I was 16, and again at age 22, with my family.

I am saving money to travel through Paris again in May, and I always hope that I will learn the same calm, beautiful approach to life that every Parisian seems to naturally possess.

During my second trip to Paris, I was determined to act the chic 22-year-old woman I was convinced I was. This meant wearing ballet flats at all times, drinking wine at any time of day, and not embarrassing myself.

Two out of three isn’t bad. I ate dinner at La Alsace with my family, where an incredibly handsome waiter served us escargot. The waiter joked with us about John Wayne, and asked if we rode horses everywhere in Texas. I informed him we only rode horses on special “fancy” occasions, usually when while attending the weekly John Wayne movie festivals.

The first round was perfect. I had tried escargot before in Texas, so clearly I felt fearless and unstoppable.

The Burgandy snails rest in fat, shiny shells filled with hot butter, garlic and herbs. They didn’t look like garden snails, but more like lovely, perfectly formed mushrooms served on a silver platter; the tiny escargot forks gleamed. I picked up the small fork and found the snail eating process both delicious and intuitive. We enjoyed the first order so much, we ordered another.

Halfway through the second plate, I found a stubborn snail, refusing to leave its shell. I forced it out, just a little too hard.The shell flew into the air and landed behind me, coating the booth window and seat with hot butter, garlic and herbs. The slug catapulted across the room, narrowly missing a small Asian tourist who ducked at the right moment. As he hid under the table, the snail whizzed past his head, where finally it finally landed in the middle of the restaurant floor.

I look up and saw handsome waiter shake his head at me, looking bewildered before rolling his eyes and walking away. I began to apologize profusely to the tourist and his wife, who had been enjoying a romantic dinner, but they didn’t speak much English. Once they saw the shame on my face and my hand gestures, they burst into laughter for a good ten minutes. They smiled and said “It’s O-kay! Thank you!” Embarrassment, I discovered, was a globally recognized language.

My family sat, staring at me in amazement, “And you were worried we would embarrass you,” my mom chided me.

I’ve begun planning my next trip through Paris, and I’ve set more realistic goals which include: eating as many macarons from different patisseries as I possibly can in a twenty-four hour time frame, to finally view the stained glass windows at the Saint Chapelle (it has always closed for renovation during my visits), and to visit the Musee d’Orsay again. I can only hope the secret to Paris’ precise beauty will be revealed to me someday, but I am grateful for the people who recognize the movable, embarrassing, but sincere feast that is my love for this city.

Culture Spoon

Freelance Writer and Photographer based in San Antonio, Texas

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