I love to travel. Like, LOVE IT love it, especially when there is a passport involved. Andy and I got in some good trips before Henry and Eleanor were born—London, Paris, Rome, Costa Rica, Mexico—and I think he’d agree that travel was the hardest thing to give up when we adjusted our lifestyle so I could be at home with the kids.
Now, instead of jetsetting, we like to play a game called “try to recreate some of the great food we’ve had in other countries, and then bitch about how it’s way different here in America.” Which is how Andy and I ended up at a French-inspired café on Saturday morning.
Paris is one of my favorite cities. I spent a few days there on my post-college trip, and can still remember my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, and the feeling of “I did it! I actually flew across the ocean and visited a different culture, and this is something I need to do more of” that it inspired in me. (This is why I collect Eiffel Towers, by the way.) Andy and I began our honeymoon there, and returned for a week in the spring of 2006. This last trip is special to us. It was during our self-imposed break from trying to get pregnant, and we were both feeling pretty hopeless about a future with living children. I don’t know what it was about that trip—just the act of getting away, or all the chocolate croissants we consumed, or lighting a candle for Sam and Emilie at Sacre Coeur and recording our plight in the book of prayer of Notre Dame—but we both attribute that week to clearing our heads, calming us down, and paving the way for our next round of IVF that resulted in Henry and Eleanor. Paris is a city we like to remember, which explains the box of opera cake in my freezer (minus the edible gold leaf on top that French counterparts have) and the trips to our favorite Greek restaurant for falafel that’s the most (but never exactly) like what we had in the Jewish quarter in the Marais.
But back to Saturday. Our first stop was at the farmers market, where a local bakery was selling croissants. We purchased two pain au chocolat, which actually looked and tasted just like ones we had in Paris. They were $3 each, though, whereas in Paris we marched into the nearby boulangerie and ordered them by the half-dozen. And yeah, it’s a bit different eating them in the midst of hoosiers buying sweet corn.
Andy and I were then off to the café I’ve wanted to try. We both ordered food we loved in Paris: a Nutella-filled crepe for me, a croque madame for Andy.
First up, my crepe. There was a crepe stand near our apartment in Paris, and on our way to sightseeing in the mornings I would stop for a crepe filled with yummy gooey Nutella and sprinkled with coconut flakes. The original:
The hoosier version:
Still yummy, but eaten with a fork, and despite the cute Eiffel Tower on the plate and the imported French flour used for the crepes, I missed the lack of coconut and the ability to eat it while walking to the Louvre. But did I mention how yummy it was? Nutella makes everything awesome.
Just so you won’t think all we do is wear our berets around the house while bemoaning how awful and bourgeois America is, let me tell you that the best meal of the day by far was our summer feast that night. Whole Foods hamburgers, fresh sweet corn and potatoes from the farmers market, a cherry-filled dessert, and Midwest-brewed beer. Viva l’Amérique!