I ate really well in Paris. I tried to focus on traditional food – even though I was in a neighborhood where I could get Thai, falafel, burgers, pizza, Chinese takeout, and Indian takeout, I steered clear of anything I could easily get in my own ‘hood; instead, I ate things like veal stew and quiche and a tuna salad on fresh greens and croissants and pastries and mackerel and vichyssoise and clafoutis; I made ratatouille from scratch, breakfasted on tartine au beurre et fruits et yaourt and once ate something in a salon du the called “tarte au choco crumble” which was like if chocolate mousse and Mississippi Mud Pie had sex directly on your tongue.
We’ve had a heat wave this weekend, and I spent the better part of the time stocking the fridge with cold soups and salads – partly to get on top of a backlog of produce, and partly so that I would have something to eat already in the fridge that would be healthy and fresh and cold. Many of the things I made had a bit of a French accent as well, inspired by a lunch I had on an especially steamy Paris day when I discovered a little place that sold nothing but cold soups; you got a bowl of your choice of soup, a roll, and your choice of a side of salad, cake, or a little cheese plate. I kind of did that idea for lunch today, grabbing a soup and a salad and huddling in front of the air conditioner to eat.
Then late in the afternoon, I got a craving – an overpowering, obsessive, get-out-and-get-this-NOW craving – for pizza. I got dressed and shuffled to the nearest pizza place – a spot by the Navy Yard with lovely pies and a brick pizza oven. I studied the menu outside, trying to make up my mind whether I was hungry enough for one of their small pies, and then realized I wasn’t craving “pizza” in general.
What I wanted was a slice. Greasy, cheap, from a hole in the wall where there’s boxes piled up in the corner and you eat off a plastic tray on a Formica table.
For the past four days I’ve been feeling a little unsettled; I’d been chalking it up to jet lag or missing Paris. After one plain and one Pepperoni slice and a can of Coke, though, I’m home.