To be a bloody tourist or not?
I have much to post, and little time to post it, but am now in the UK again. However, I’ll be out and about a lot, so posting style sporadic. I wrote a few diar-type pieces while on the earlier part of my travels, though didn’t keep it up. This seems worth sharing…
21:05, Paris in the last light. The matter now is food. I asked the Hostel desk worker for ideas, and after stating that I wasn’t fussed at all, he pointed me towards to different options. Back to the Metro Station, and turn right, and there are two places to eat almost opposite each other: one I missed his description of, and which I still can’t quite classify, the other, literally, ‘American’.
I walked up the street some way, eyeing both as I passed, stretching my legs. Coming back on the American side of the street, I considered my options quickly: to be a bloody tourist, or to be daring. Deciding that I could do better than burgers and chips, food I consider to be imperialist at the best of times, and certainly not what I came to Europe for, I chose to push the boat out and turned my back on the shiny burger bar. Alas, this might not have been for the best.
I guess I could have redeemed the choice by trying the pizzas, hot sandwiches or panini on offer, but instead, I went for one of the more substantial looking dishes. What I ordered was called ‘formule petit pois’, and its only redeeming feature were the petit-pois themselves. The meat, quite like Bradfordian ‘meat’ (if you’re not from Bradford, this might be lost on you), wasn’t worth questioning for its origin. Stringy, sinewed and probably boiled, I had a job to eat it despite my missionary upbringing of sorts.
I noticed the clientele of this place are nearly all male, and look anything but well off. Paris, as we were forcibly reminded in riots in recent years, is by no means a city of universal affluence. This is obviously a poor man’s restuarant in a very literal sense, a far cry from the image of french cuisine we are most often sold. It cost little more than a fiver, and for the same amount, I could have purchased a burger, chips and coke from across the road.
If I were faced with the same choice again, what would I choose? Mono-culture, pushing its way into every neighbourhood across the face of this planet, or what I just ate? Its a good question, and I’ll decide tomorrow.
P.S. Actually, by the next night I was on the camp site where I’d stay for the duration of the G8, where the food was better, though entirely vegan. I shall relate something about this in future postings when I review the G8.