Wednesday, August 24, 2011

American Frenchie

We went to Frenchie Bar a Vins* last night, and this entry is not going to be about the food.

You are right to wonder.

Well, I can’t not mention it, so I will tell you what we ate, just to get it out of the way.  We had cured pork belly from a black pig (this was sliced thin and was like eating butter) served with rosemary-infused crispy flatbread.  Then smoked trout with… honestly, I can’t remember all that was with it, but the presentation was beautiful and the levels of taste divine.  (I should have just taken a picture, but I didn’t.  More on that later.)  Then we had burrata with peaches and balsalmic.  Then we had tete de cochon, which was chunky and magical and covered in mustard seeds.  Then we had napoleon cheese (sheep's milk) with truffle honey and shaved summer truffles.


Needless to say it was worth the 20-minute wait outside and another 20 minutes inside standing (but now with wine!) to experience these tastes.

But the clientele that had me conflicted.

How to say this without sounding like a hypocrite?  Or maybe I just embrace the hypocrisy of it and say... that it was way too American for me.

Now here's the hypocrisy.  I am American.  And I love being American.  My French is passable, at best, so sometimes it is a comfort to converse with a Parisian in my native tongue.  But I was thoroughly irked by the fact that every table, every person in the place was speaking English natively.  (Except for the waiter/bartender.)

I realize that Paris is a foodie destination, and that many foodies are from the United States.  And that good restaurants attract foodies from all over the world.  Frenchie is a destination restaurant, for sure. (According to TripAdvisor, it is ranked #1.  Yikes.)  But why does all of the English-speaking lessen my experience?  Because I am in Paris, I suppose.  And because I crave authenticity.  And a room full of English-speakers in Paris does not an authentic environment make.

(Again, I must state that the food was amazing.)

But I am conflicted because this is my tongue and these are my people.  I saw at least three groups that I knew were on holiday.  And how lucky am I that I live in a city that people choose to visit?  I knew that if we didn't get into the wine bar last night, we could come back next week... or the week after... or whenever we damn well pleased.  But for one especially dolled-up group, I knew that last night was their only shot.  (Did I let them have my place at the bar, though?  No.  First come, first served!  But I would have felt bad if they had been turned away entirely.)

And, oh yeah, about the lack of photos.  I didn't want to be another "tourist" snapping away over my plate.  Usually, I photograph my food with no problem but the environment made me want to act as authentically Parisian as possible.  Not that I was putting on, and not that I won't go back there.  Because if you come visit, we should totally go.  If only so I can photograph the delicious offerings next time.

* Frenchie is a hot resto in Paris that books out months in advance.