When you feel you are exactly where you should be.
For the next six days I challenged myself to stay out in Paris for hours at a time, occasionally retreating back to the flat for an afternoon nap. I attempted the metro system, when I was not walking, explored every arrondissement, and did the more obvious activities such as walking to the Eiffel Tower, or sitting on a bench eating a Nutella crepe in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral. I wanted to feel comfortable after the week, and very well adjusted in my new city. I sat in cafes for two-hour lunches complete with wine, and then would pop into the Louvre or whatever museum I fancied. Some days I would walk to my campus, and walk back exploring every open-air market I came across. Then there was one day where it was raining and I decided I would spend several hours cooking Coq au Vin, the traditional French dish of chicken cooked in wine. I wanted a celebratory home-cooked meal and I figured nothing better than a wine inspired dish on the eve of beginning wine school. I strolled the open-air market on Rue Monge and waited in the long line to purchase my whole chicken. It was finally my turn and the butcher stared at me waiting for me to speak. “Ici, poulet roti…grande.” I pointed to the whole chicken. The butcher then smiled as he understood what I wanted, but apparently that was absolutely not how to ask for it. I probably sounded like a two year old, but oh well. I aspired to channel my inner Julia Child on this rainy afternoon. I envisioned Julia sauntering around Paris buying whole chickens and spring onions on a daily basis. I wanted to follow suit. I returned back to the flat and spent the next few hours preparing my Coq Au Vin. I broke down the bird, something I had not done since culinary school, chopped my vegetables and let it marinate in a bottle of Bordeaux. While I would leave it to marinate, I set out to try the rumored best savory crepe in the city at Breizh Café in Le Marais District.
In addition to Breizh Café, that first week I discovered many other exceptional eateries all over the city of Paris. Erik Kayser, the fourth generation baker with over 50 varieties of bread, became my go to boulangerie. Café Delmas was a café with a definite Parisian scene and I went there a few nights during the week to enjoy their delectable French onion soup and people watch. Jacques Genin a talented chocolatier became a frequent stop as I could not resist his mint ganache or passion fruit chocolate squares.
That first week settling into Paris had been absolute heaven on earth. I couldn’t help but wonder when I would start to feel lonely or emptiness would ensue. I had always read this was not a sustainable feeling for a foreigner, and I would be bound to experience severe alienation. I had Skyped with Eddie several times, as well as friends and family telling stories about my daily rendezvous. I felt so satiated in Paris, it was an adventure and seemingly I had prepared myself for the energy it took to endure the adjustment. The first week had been a victory, as I felt very comfortable with the city itself, my neighborhood, and just being able to function in France. The next day I would start sommelier school and I was nervous and pondering questions like; what had I gotten myself into? Who would my classmates be? Do we start tasting French wines the first day of school? I was about to enter unknown territory. Paris and I now had an intimate relationship…but this wine program was a shot in the dark. My entire kitchen smelled of roasted chicken, herbs, wine, and any delicious savory scent you can think of. I plated up my Coq Au Vin with giddiness and sat on the balcony. It was Sunday night, and I felt so content to be dining on my first home-cooked meal in my new home. Recognizing this in that moment gave me goose bumps.
Teri Perine says
Experience of a lifetime Krista ♥️ Love reading about how you have lived your dreams…
Krista Bender says
Thank you! Its so fun to write these memories 🙂
Beautiful writing Krista ! You have the innate gift of transporting your readers right along with you on your remarkable Parisian journey . You are amazing !!
Krista Bender says
Thank you Tierney! I’m bringing you all along as we venture to other parts of France soon 🙂
Evelyn Anderson says
Yes love living this experience you had. All our trips are such beautiful memories for sure. Keep going Krista. I know I will