We learned through many tastings where to buy the "best" of each of the essential food groups: Bread, Cheese, Chocolates, Olives, Pastries, Pâté, Produce, and Wine. Most were within walking distance of our France Homestyle apartment in the 9th Arrondisement
We scoured the city from the Grandes Epicerie of Bon Marché to the markets - covered markets, organic markets, indoor markets, outdoor markets, and permanent market streets: Rue Montorgueil, Rue Cler, Rue Mouffetard. Everywhere we went we delighted in the sights and sounds of Paris. Conversations, gesticulations, heated discussions, touching, tasting, and bargaining. When we couldn't possibly carry one more thing, then and only then, was it time to return home to our France Homestyle apartment
and savor the bounties.
Our best discovery was the Rotisserie Man on Rue St.Lazare. It was an unseasonably hot September day in the year 2000 when we found his tiny shop -it barely measured 8' x 8'. One entire wall, from floor to ceiling, was a rotisserie. As hot as it was outside, the heat inside was so intense we could barely breathe. Eight skewers laden with chicken, lamb, pork and turkey slowly revolved in the searing heat. Piled at bottom were potatoes and onions all basting in the luscious drippings from above. It was difficult to decide what to choose; everything smelled so good and the flavors were exquisite. Just before departing Paris, we stopped to say goodbye, hoping to see him the next year. I took his photo, as he was our chef on many occasions!
The following year, my first destination before I even unpacked was Rue St. Lazare to see my friend the Rotisserie Man. From a block away, I smelled the wonderful aromas from his rotisserie. What was his special today, I wondered? With each step, my mouth watered in anticipation of that evening's dinner. I was so excited to be back in Paris and getting my dinner from my favorite vendor. Imagine my surprise and disappointment to see his shop shuttered tight. Utter panic swept over me - could he possibly be out of business? Relief quickly came as I read the posted notice announcing he would return from summer holiday the following week. Was it jet lag, a daydream or a Pavlovian reaction? I knew I smelled his food!
One week later, the day he re-opened, there I was again, ready for anything he prepared. I also had his gift, the photo I shot the previous year. He was so delighted that I had returned and so appreciative of the gift. Every few days, we visited hime for something to eat and he greeted us as if we had been customers for years. I suddenly became: "l'Americaine!" After 9/11 he grieved with us - he was our friend. Each year, we sadly say goodbye and count the days until we return to eat his wonderful food. As I write this, we will be there in 3 days, 7 hours and 18 minutes!