cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Well Not Quite Lilloise Cuisine

In search of French, I end at Brésilien
Passing the holiday week in Lille; lazily relaxing on a comfortable mattress proffered by a great friend who has welcomed me without condition into her apartment for a near week of wandering, shopping, reading, writing, movies, and just---nothing. The most brilliant component of the recipe: we didn't know each other before for but 3 hours at the Visa Consulate General in San Fransisco last August. Yet, here I am, and what a wonderful holiday season it has become.

As much as you know how I would love to begin a long and drawing synopsis of my dealings in Lille, I will spare you and exercise restraint to keep to a particular and yes, gastronomic topic. At the Gare du Nord train station in Paris I purchased a French culinary magazine to pass the wait time, ever so coincidentally there happened in this edition of Saveurs Magazine to be an entire culinary article on discovering the authentic cuisine of Lille. Well, how lucky for me I must say. Fries, as everyone is well aware, is the classic cuisine of the Northern pas-de -Calais region of France, served in bulk and with an abundance of artery clogging mayon-aise. Ah huh. The article expounded on the frite-obsession, venturing into the vrai Lilloise cuisine found at the tucked away brasseries and cafes of old Lille city center. Center column were prized two particularly Lilloise dishes: Waterzoi and Potjevleesch. Waterzoi is a chicken and fish dish steamed in a casserole pot with potatoes, cream, and an assortment of vegetables. Potjevleesch, the dish that beckoned me for the hunt, the one I knew Tony (Bourdain) would eat, is much more enticing: feast your eyes on the culinary description of a potted terrine of pork, rabbit, veal, and chicken in a jelly of their own make congealed to a refrigerated serving temperature. Mmm your mouth is watering I can almost see you. Saveurs recommended recommended an authentic cafe where such treats could be found, Le Bistro Lilloise on 40 rue de Gand. I say unto M: We are going, get your coat.

Not exactly, we spent the day strolling and peering through what seemed hundreds of restaurant windows, scrutinizing menus, an immensely patient (and brave) girl is M to oblige to my neurotic quest for a strange potted meat (I have quite turned her on to the dried figs as well--though I have as of late discovered Spanish figs, which I sadly must say put the Turks to shame) On rue de Gand we discovered the bistro from the article, as well as another authentic that served our desire. We returned with a Canadian and a Chinese friend at dinner time (20:30) to find both closed--on a Friday night? My poor starving troop turned to me with puppy eyes: how was I to know? They're the ones who live in this town. Un-phased I tilt my head slightly left, we should go there I say, to a small glowing cafe in the corner which looked under visited but charming. The day spent looking for Lilloise cuisine, ends in one of the most charming restaurants I have yet been in, and as far from Lilloise as possible: Brasilian and Argentinian (the both?) cuisine, bienvenue au Ipanema El Gaucho. Brazil, Brazil, Brazil I find you everywhere. Do you hear that Brazeel!

To the relief of my companions, the potted meat was postponed, and replaced instead by a carte of amusing cocktails and plats as authentic as French South American cooking can get, which, when I tell you of the French fries and cheese assortment offered on the menu you may roll the eyes back. Everything had fruit though. Ahhhhh. My maman used to call me a humming bird. The one marrying both the banana and pineapple--that one was mine. No second glance needed. Then I saw it, there, first word under entree, morue. Morue! Have i yet to see the morue on a menu in France, NO! Morue! I will translate for you, COD. I leave you there friends, with the first Morue sighting of the Salty Cod.

The setting was surreal enough, dinning Brazilian in Lille with new friend M, her friends the Canadian C and Chinese student S. How did I get here? New friends, cocktails, and carne assada con bananas de mijote de porc flambe au rhum, riz, banane plantain et ananas. Ha ha! The music makes one ancy to spring to toes and dance a type of tango, dancing was only on Thursdays, zut! All was perfect until the Canadian C committed the one unforgivable sin: asking for ketchup in France. What would one need ketchup for at a Brazilian restaurant you ask? Try to remember still in France here, and somehow steak frites made it on the menu, smuggled in there under the disguise of some Argentinian spice. Oh but one must forgive my Canadian brother, even though, sadly, he hails from Edmonton.

My Lille culinary experience: Brazilian. Why not. My Brazilian friend, named Brazeel, I say this to you now: eu acho que você está gostando do açougueiro! The bucheries are everywhere, and so is Brazil! Je ne comprends pas! But--Eu adoro a música, eu assistir 3 vezes, e uma vez com palavras Inglês. Eu estou indo para procurar música álbum. Obrigado. Eu feita Morgan assistir também (I apologize to anyone who actually speaks Portuguese) Remorse over the missed jellied meat quickly passed, but perhaps there is still time. Lille, Lille je pense que je t'aime, I will discover you!

Et maintenant, tout le monde, est-ce que vous savez le jour?
Joyeux Anniversaire to my Maman, happy happy birthday mammy je t'aime beaucoup.

A bientôt

1 comment:

Núria said...

Mallory, sorry, I don't have the time now to read your last 2 posts... I'm leaving for a New Years Party!!!!!!

I promise I'll read them when I recover from the hangover (joke, well maybe not a joke after all).

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2008!!!!!!!!!! See you next year!