Antoine Laurain in one of his most famous novels, Le chapeau de Mitterrand, describes les brasseries parisiennes and their plateau de fruits de mer ( seafood platter) which makes your mouth water ( vous met l’eau à la bouche):
« Le plateau arriva avec ses fruits de mer disposés par famille sur la glace concassée. Il prit une huître, puis approcha le citron coupé en quarts juste au dessus, pressa délicatement l’agrume, une goutte tomba sur la fine membrane qui se rétracta aussitôt. »
The image of the seafood on a bed of crushed ice, the lemon delicately pressed onto the oyster which retracts at the contact with the lemon juice is really part of a French ritual and is also incredibly visual and sensorial.
On the other hand, in the novel, le serveur en tablier blanc is less than friendly, le maître d’hôtel is arrogant and le sommelier ( the wine waiter) is condescending, attitudes which are quite often associated with the staff in Paris restaurants, brasseries and cafés. But fortunately, it is not the case everywhere!
Martine who is one of our French teachers went to la brasserie Mollard, rue St Lazare in Paris at Easter and had a completely different welcome.
Everyone was extremely friendly, patient and jolly. She highly recommends this brasserie who has a very interesting history. It opened in 1867 by monsieur Mollard, 30 years later he had earned enough money to transform his brasserie into the most luxurious brasserie of the time, completely decorated in art nouveau with beautiful mosaics. The décor which was renovated a few years back is a real jewel of art nouveau….. and the food is very nice and not too pricey. Definetely a must: c’est incontournable!
In the meantime, if you’re not going to Paris just yet, what about coming to meet Antoine Laurain who will be talking about his books on Wednesday, 16th May at 7:30pm at the Folk House in Bristol and on 17th May in Bath.