Pleasure and Pain in Paris

By Salma Abdelnour Posted March 15, 2007

When I travel, especially on short trips, I tend to eat multiple lunches and dinners every day so I can fit in all the restaurants and food shops I’m eager to check out. It’s a strange kind of self-abuse—or obnoxious self-indulgence, more likely—that food-obsessed travelers are prone to. Sometimes it’s bliss, and sometimes it feels more like masochism. In Paris last weekend, I spent an afternoon with a friend wandering around the small, neighborhoody Marché des Enfants Rouges food market, at 39 rue de Bretagne in the Marais—and eating what amounted to three lunches in a row. We started at the Italian stand, with a few rolls of olive-oil-dipped speck wrapped around lusciously tart, creamy goat-cheese—a heavenly combination. Minutes later, already stuffed, we rallied and walked over to the Japanese stand, where we ordered the day’s special—crunchy, deep-fried croquettes of fresh cod—along with a seaweed salad, then found a spot at a beat-up picnic table in the courtyard and made quick work of those. Destination number three: The Moroccan traiteur, which always has long lines snaking around the stall. We queued up for chicken-stuffed pastilla (they were out of the pigeon pastilla, to our chagrin, but the chicken was fabulous too). Then, for good measure, we tried a tagine urged on us by one of the Moroccan cooks who work the stand: He piled the couscous high with rosy lamb, juicy prunes and preserved lemons. In this case, three lunches added up to total bliss. I’d like to say we stopped the insanity right there—but soon we were off again, headed for a double-dinner night.

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