Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang sang a song when I was young: Happiness is finding a pencil. Pizza with sausage. Tying your shoes for the very first time.
Lately, I’ve thought a lot about happiness. If you are considering a move (or a bunch of moves), I encourage you to think about what brings you day-to-day happiness. Because it matters.
During July, Pat lived in Ireland and I stayed in Paris. One night while talking on the phone, I described my dinner in painstaking detail. Pat mentioned that he had fish and potatoes. “But you had that last night?”
“Julie, I eat it every night. There’s more to life than food.”
Me silent. Is he joking?
I can remember every meal of my life. For years, I’ve described a specific meal in Florence to Pat. “Remember? The restaurant was dark. Empty. We sat in the back corner. I had grilled trout and said it was the best fish I had ever eaten. It was the first time we ever ate fried zucchini blossoms.”
He stares back. Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Nothing.
But when I related this story to my daughter, Taylor, she said, “Oh yes. I remember that!” Which might explain why I loved our girls’ trips so much.
Dinner in Rome. Over the bridge in Trastevere. Lime-green, checkered tablecloths. A stew with spring artichokes.
First molten chocolate cake. Paris. Near the L’arc de Triomphe. 25-minute wait. Worth it.
Cannoli. Sicily. A touch of lemon. On a main road at the base of Modica.
Taylor and I. Girls’ trip. Rome. New Year’s Eve. 26 courses.
Once in New York, I asked a colleague where to eat the best Italian (when your first name is Salvatore, you know these things). He sent me to Longobardi’s in East Fishkill, one of those strip mall joints reminiscent of my New Jersey youth. Months (and several business trips) later, I walked in and the waitress said, “Hey hon. The usual?”
Shrimp parm with a side of garlicky broccoli. Yes.
I moan. Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Bliss.
But it’s not only about eating out. I also love to cook. In the morning, I plan lunch. In the afternoon, I plan dinner. My last thought before I fall asleep is my morning croissant. Pat will be home making oatmeal.
How does he live like that?
I’ve missed Paris. (Pat did too. But for different reasons. He’s a city guy)
Yesterday, I went to Café Mericourt for breakfast. The owner, Guy, is wonderful (he is also the owner of Café Oberkampf…and if you are in the 11th, try them). I had shakshuka with one egg, a slice of the most fantastic bread (I think they get it from Ten Belles), an espresso.
Lunch was at home: eggplant parmesan (the eggplant could have been the cover of Cooks Illustrated). I reduced the red tomatoes from the top photo with a bit of olive oil and garlic. The last 15 minutes I poked in a stalk of basil. Since our boulangerie is closed on Wednesday, I let Pat pick the bread. He chose Poilâne. Which meant I also grabbed an apple tart. (I think he knew that would happen.)
Right up the street from Poilâne in the North Marais is Jacques Genin, the purveyor of the best chocolate in Paris. I bought a box of the dark mixed. We limit ourselves to one piece per day. (At 36 euros for 36 pieces, that box must last a long time.)
The wine man picked the wine. (Actually, it was left over from the day before when we had fish. He knows I prefer reds and went with a red Sancerre.)
Dinner was cut up fruit–plums, a peach, a perfect melon. I mixed it with plain yogurt. One of those glass bottle varieties from Normandy. A handful of walnuts. A drizzle of honey.
I can’t explain why I bought so much fruit. Other than I might have left Ireland with a titch of scurvy (and some pent-up fruit cravings).
Today, I’m thinking a Bouba chicken with sliced heirloom tomatoes for lunch. For dinner, I might roast figs. Partner them with a round of goat’s cheese from the fromagerie. Mix with simple salad greens. A baguette.
And tomorrow is market day. It never ends.
Categories: A year in Paris