Hand in Hand – Chapter 2
After my first stroll on the streets of Paris, Eugène and I had our lunch at Brasserie de l’Isle Saint Louis, while we reach there I am starving since I had a granola bar in breakfast from the vending machine on my floor. Eugène says this restaurant is owned by a family since 1953, and they brew their own beer. It is a beautiful small restaurant, nary exceptional, but gives me a pleasant feeling. This is a kind of restaurant where the menu is written with chalk on a black writing board, where the lights are yellow colored. There are outdoor seating’s with small round table for two and wooden chairs with red seats and red rain/sun shelter, and indoor are those long tables, where I would love to come with my family or a bunch of friends, and laugh out loud, and have a good time. Now that it’s just the two of us, we sit in those outdoor chairs. This place has a warm ambience filled with the din of people bustling in, chattering and clinging glasses. A place I often enjoy my meals because I would not want to go in some elegant Parisian restaurant in this outfit. The sky is clear, the climate is cool and the temperature is 8°C, I could feel the chills deep in my hair follicles so I take my beige cardigan out of my bag and clad myself. Eugène seems to be comfortable in his long sleeved tee. The wind blows and dishevels our hair, there Eugène’s hair is mussed up and yet he looks like a beautiful boy, and my hair are all over my face. Eugène laughs with that boyish charm, and tells me, “Your hairr is all ruffled” and places his arms above his head and points his fingers in different directions like antlers. He has this peculiar accent where he stretches few words like those that have ‘r’ in them or gives the sound of ‘ah’ for ‘a’.
Me: “I know I look like a goon, I hate my hair”.
Eugène: “Naahh, rather you look cute like this”, while I am adjusting my hair he says “I like yourr hair, the waves, their colorr. I like brrunettes.” And I lower my face so my chin touches my throat and try to cover my cheeks with my hair, in a failed attempt to furtive my blushing.
Eugène: “You know this place has that good classic tastes in their meal, and I lurrvvee its Choucroute”
(I am oblivion to French food, as I never had much of French cuisine because I am a kind of person who doesn’t like to experiment with the food. I have my few favorites and I always stick to them.)
Me: “Alright, hope it’s not a sea food”. I feel stupid asking everything to him, but I don’t want to end up being served a fish head or octopus, and I would have to eat it to maintain my equilibrium.
Eugène: “Noo Choucroute garnie has sausages and other salted meats and charcuterie, and Potatoes.”
And I heave a sigh, because I was aww-Induced by his description of Choucroute and finally I would have a proper meal after 2 long weeks of feeding myself with croissants, baguettes, fruits, chocolates, cakes, granola which is not a very healthy diet and left me sweet tongued, and I have been craving for a proper meal with spices. In last 2 weeks countless are the times when I had wished if I were shifted to Thailand than France (unbeknownst of French cuisine, I am well aware of Thai cuisine and it is my favorite), until today morning when Eugène took me out for a tour.
We order 2 Choucroute garnies, 2 beers from their Brasserie, and the meal priced 50€ for two, cheap enough. While we were waiting for our meal, Eugène told me about the eateries near my dorm that is located at Les Pavillons Sous Bois and the type of meals I should order. A servile French lad comes in with our lunch and I hog on my meal as if not eaten well in weeks (that part is true). It really is delicious, for the kind of restaurant I am amazed that the food is sumptuous, the meat is in galore and is tender with a flavor of wine and tanginess of sauerkraut, and potatoes melt in my mouth with a flavor of parsley, bacon has its crispiness and I am in love with the food. I feel it’s only me and Choucroute and the surrounding is devoid and for a moment I forget that a beautiful French boy, Eugène is in front of me (probably staring at me). My meal dwindles while I eat when my stomach is happy I gradually come back to the reality, and finally give Eugène a glance and catch him staring at me and he has this lopsided grin on his face and he says, “I like it that you are not pretentious”, Wow.. Reeeaally! what a choice of words to say you are hogging and I suddenly feel self-conscious and cringe-worthy. He waves his hands in air as if to discard these feelings and I quickly flush them and give him my reviews on Choucroute. I can see the proud smile on his face. And not to forget the beer, mighty taste, although the balance is a little tilted toward sweetness (Which I prefer). Coconut, vanilla, rich caramel malt, long sweet bourbon barrel finish with lots of lingering coconut makes me feel fresh. There is a bare hint of bitterness at the end which for some reasons I liked, probably the food effect. While we were eating, we didn’t talk much, and once I happily obliterated Choucroute from my plate, I tried to pay but he didn’t let me, saying “Allow me maah lady” with a slight bow. I know he was being funny but I felt burning of my cheeks.
We head towards the Quai de Bourbon, assuming we are going to my dorm, while we are walking straight he again offered me his hand, and I take it without hesitation, without a question where we are going, like I am the putty in his hands, and I surmise that this journey has just began.
We walk to the Beginning of this journey of my life, Hand in Hand.