With orientation over and classes starting tomorrow, last night and today were totally free of obligation. Last night, I went to Rue Mouffetard with some friends for some good old-fashioned French food. This is a fun little area of the Latin Quarter, complete with all the winding cobblestone streets that remind you that you are, in fact, living in an old European city.
Dinner was pretty good. I was able to try escargot again, which made me feel super fancy. The entrée of skewered beef made me realize a couple things about French cuisine. First, that the French know how to take a mediocre cut of meat and prepare it very well. Second, the thing about asking you how you want your meat done? Really just a courtesy. I asked for my beef “à point,” which means medium, and it came out rare-to-medium rare. This was fine with me; the only reason I didn’t ask for medium rare is because I didn’t know the word for it. Nevertheless, this was a clear illustration of an attitude in French cooking: the customer is never right, and chef knows best.
Today, I struck out on my own for the first time since arriving in Paris. I was looking for an English bookstore that I never found, but happily enjoyed my wandering anyway. One highlight of my walk was watching a group of kids have a snowball fight with the dusting from last night that amounted to maybe an inch altogether.
I also visited the Panthéon, a building that I’ve walked past several times but had not yet entered. It was originally erected as a church in honor of Sainte-Geneviève, the patron saint and protectress of Paris who was said to have warned the city of an impending attack by the Huns. Today, it is a secular building that houses the remains of some famous French fellas that you may have heard of- Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Jacques-Germain Soufflot, the architect of the building.
Heading out now in a bit to grab some groceries with Hannah and Annie. I bought some curry the other day, so I think Indian is on the menu tonight.