People, atmosphere, and good memories.
On my first full day in Paris, I had explored Musee d’Orsay by myself and met up with my friend in the afternoon. As we are both very keen on good local food, she was excited to take me to this particular restaurant: Le Bistrot d’Henri. One thing I realized in Paris was that most people have their meals later than what I am used to. Usually, I would eat around 6 to 7pm whereas for most Parisians, that was the prime time for enjoying the sun after work. As we walked into an almost empty restaurant, we realized that we’re not Parisian enough. However, we were too hungry to wait for another hour, so we walked in and sat down.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was nothing like other restaurants that I visited which tended to be full of tourists. Le Bistrot d’Henri had a homey atmosphere with smaller tables and seats. Since my friend had been to this restaurant and loved it, I decided to let my friend choose the menu. She was really excited to order the food and knew exactly what to order while a couple sitting next to us looked lost. “You should get the slow cooked lamb. It’s amazing.” My friend recommended to the couple. We ordered wine, two appetizers and one main dish – slow cooked lamb. Taking in every bite, I thought to myself, this must be the real French food that people enjoy. With dimmed lights, baguettes, wine, good food and great company, it was what I imagined a homey French dinner to be like.
As we finished the main dish, a conversation started with the couple. They were from Australia and were visiting Paris as a part of their holiday trip to Europe. They had visited Europe several times and each time, for some reason, they found themselves in Paris. Especially this year, they planned to stay in Paris for a day, decided to stay for a additional 3 nights once they arrived. They were recommended to this restaurant by the hotel as an authentic local restaurant. My friend and I had been discussing about how jealous we are of people who can leisurely travel and enjoy scenery and livings of different countries. The couple also agreed that it is a blessing to be able to enjoy various cultures and told us that one day, we, too, will be able to enjoy what they were enjoying.
It was a pleasant surprise and a joy to see that a simple recommendation to a restaurant could bring a good conversation and a pleasant evening. It’s not just the food but it was also the environment. I had always known that food was at the heart of a culture but I did not realize that food also brings more to life: people, atmosphere, and good memories. And of course, the couple loved the slow cooked lamb that we recommended.
Article written by Sarah Cho.