Steak frites avec la Madeleine

by jemma margaret

“I can’t believe they’re drinking a whole bottle of wine,” said my Daisy Miller before her fall 19 year old sister.

“Well, it’s two men,” I said, “and we’re almost through with two-thirds of a bottle.”

Thus continued the first hour of our night out.

I don’t often eat in public with young blondes, but let me tell you…everyone is so nice! I keep exclaiming this after our café outings over the past day and a half as if Parisian servers had an imperative to act otherwise. Further, and perhaps in part due to the language barrier, there is a perfectly correct distance maintained between delightful conviviality and uncomfortable familiarity. A recent dinner in New York left me with too much knowledge of a server’s past professions, grandmother’s whereabouts, and aspirations toward stardom. Happily, all I know about my Parisian compatriots is that they are really very nice (and I don’t think that’s the cake, hot chocolate, or wine talking).

Do you like steak? I have probably never eaten it, but I do respect a good steak lover and my sister well fits the bill.

“Oh,” she said after the first bite, “I think I might cry.”

We started the meal with a very large bowl of whelks and mayonnaise, ordered with absolutely no idea what were “bulots” but enjoyed nevertheless. These cold cooked sea snails are not for the squeamish or over imaginative especially because a good number trailed a bit of slime or contained rather phallic appendages.

This was continued with a ho-hum but very generous piece of dorade and side of eggplant for yours truly as well as an emotionally moving (though literally dead) entrecôte saignant with frites, bone marrow and a wisp of a salad for the little one. We both tried the bone marrow and pronounced it buttery with the consistency of watery mashed potatoes.

After dinner and our 50 cl of vin rouge it seemed a shame not to try some French cheese for dessert (we had overloaded on sugar at breakfast time with a millefeuille, chocolat chaud, and a financier). We decided on the brie de meaux, but the very nice waiter told us we could choose two so we also got the Saint Nectaire. The two came accompanied by bread and butter. One would be a damn fool to ever refused proffered French butter.

But what is cheese without wine? We asked for a recommendation, were granted with a small sample, and it was agreed to be superior to our first order so we decided on another 25 cl.

For those of you who can do mathematics this late in the evening, yes, that makes a full bottle.