My BFF Paula was here this weekend, and she says I still haven't written enough about French food.  Could that be possible?  Paula really doesn't like to fly much anymore, and is not likely to be going there in person, so I guess she was hoping to experience it all through my eyes and taste buds.  It got me to thinkin', about what kind of impression Paris restaurants and food would have on someone who was seeing it through virgin eyes.  The first word that popped into my head was discombobulation.  Good word, non?  I'd been there twice before, and I still found it terribly confusing!

For instance, what's the difference between a bistro and a brasserie?  Why does a tea house look more like a coffee shop, while the coffee shops look more like bars?  Most importantly, is an entree a main course, or an appetizer?  I did a bit of research when I got home and came across this great article over at that explained everything!  Guess it would have been more beneficial if I had done that pre-trip rather than post, but, oh well.

Do you know someone who came back from Paris and told you how terribly rude or arrogant the waiters were?  If so, there's a good chance they went over there, demanding, that everything be done exactly the way it is done back home.  The French serve bread at every meal, but they do not bring butter unless you request it.  Does that give us the right to throw a hissy fit?  No, it does not.  We saw a lot of people doing just that, and I kept asking myself "Why do they even travel?  Why not just stay home, if you want everything to be done the way it is done there?"  Or maybe they thought it would be funny to snap their fingers in the air and yell "Garcon!"  Well it's not.  I mean, how would you respond if someone snapped their fingers at you and hollered "Girl!" or "Boy!"  I think I'd get kinda pissy!

Anyhoo, back to all the different kinds of eateries in France.  Here is a brief summary of what you are likely to find:

Bar a' Vin (Wine Bar) - the place to go for wine by the glass and assorted snacks

Salon de The' - these usually open mid-morning and close by early evening.  They are often connected to a patisserie (pastry shop), and some serve light lunches as well.  A great place to go for afternoon tea or coffee and dessert.

Cafe - these serve drinks and food all day from a limited menu of things like sandwiches, salads, steak, and the ubiquitous moules et frites (mussels and fries).  Parisians treat cafes as an extension of their living rooms.  It's where they go to meet friends, read the newspaper, write in their journals, or just hang out and people watch.  I love cafes!  I guess that's why I went to Onion Creek Cafe several times per week when we lived in Houston, and why I go to Mima's so often now.  They are the extra room I have added on to my house.

Brasseries - these are the ones that confused me most.  I assumed that the word brasserie had something to do with cooking meat (like braise, or rotisserie), but what it actually means is brewery, though they have evolved beyond that now.  Most are large, cheerful places that serve everything from tea and croissants to alcohol and late night snacks.  They open early, close late, and are the place to go for an inexpensive meal just about any time of the day.  Remember the place next to our hotel in Marseilles, where the waiter took a shine to us and gave us a bottle of wine?  That was a brasserie.

Restaurants - the fancy schmancy places, reservations only.

Bistros - the typical bistro offers simple, hearty food, along with wine, in a cozy, convivial atmosphere.  I think our little Leaning Pear, here in Wimberley, would be considered a bistro. This is where Parisians dine most often, but they are small and have limited seating, so it wouldn't hurt to call ahead and book a table.  Bistro food is home cooking, developed as a way of using up foods -- such as using fresh veggies and leftover meat to make a hearty stew -- but it may also be as simple as a baguette and pate' with a glass of wine.  I love bistro food, and without even realizing it, that is what I have been learning to cook since we moved here to the Hill Country.  We will talk about it more sometime soon, and I will share a few recipes with you.  And, if I am lucky, perhaps you will share a few with me?

Now I must run, for I have a date!  My daughter and I are meeting up in Austin, to see Midnight in Paris (another thing I should have done pre-trip rather than post). A' bientot!
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Reviewed by juragan asem
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Rating : 4.5