Friday, August 5, 2011

The hair of the dog…or the pig: Pied au Cochon

While Kyle and I had an endless list of things we wanted to eat in Paris, the problem was that our bellies couldn’t accommodate everything our hearts were telling us we wanted. By the afternoon of day 2 we didn’t think we could stuff one more ounce of fois gras or a tiny morsel of croissant into our stretching tummies.

Similar to the old remedy for a hangover, the best way to get over a fully belly is, well, to eat more. My aunt took us to a famous French brasserie called Pied au Cochon (The Pig’s Foot). Legend has it that my aunt and father came here over 40 years ago when the area was seedier, and the food was just as good. Especially, the pig’s feet.

As soon as I sat down, I thought, this place is so…French. It was everything I envisioned in a French brasserie and more. It was what I had unknowingly used as inspiration for our kitchen remodel with the buttery yellow walls, red accents and dark wood. We sat along the sidewalk and watched as interesting people strolled by. In Europe, it seems perfectly acceptable to stare at other people. I didn’t find it rude at all; I just played along and enjoyed observing others and wondering what was going on in their lives…

There was a woman sitting near us at her own table. She ordered the fruits de mer platter, savoring every bite and exhibiting no inclination of being self-conscious for eating alone, something my American self would have challenges with. She enjoyed the platter of crayfish, langoustines, snails, and other sea delicacies for over 2 hours—almost as long as the raucous meal for our group of 5 people.

We decided to order a good sampling of traditional French brasserie food. A book I mentioned earlier, Hungry for Paris, was an excellent introduction to what to expect from a brasserie. Good brasseries have oyster stands outside, implying that their seafood is fresh and delicious. Oysters are prized in France and according to the book, in France, it is OK to eat oysters even during months that do not have an “r” in them. Good thing, because it was the beginning of July and Emi was hungry for some French oysters!

The oysters came with a sharp mignonette that cut the brininess of the oyster. There were also these lovely toasts that you would spread the cheesy butter on and eat with the oyster. 


Next came the you know we can't go to Paris and not have some salty, garlicy, buttery snails. These came sizzling on a platter and were glistening with melted butter and oil. Honestly, you could have put paint chips in those snail shells--as long as that sauce was poured over, it would have been heaven.


They presented us with tiny forks that were specially made to scoop out those juicy suckers from their protective shell as well as pinchers to hold the shell in place. 


The onion soup was sublime, with it's crusty cheese topping that veiled a silky potent onion soup. 


OK, so I lied about not being able to fit one more ounce of fois gras in our tummies. We managed just fine. 

We spent hours "talking story" as we say in Hawaii. I love that about Paris. Meals are events, where it is so much more than just getting some fuel in your body; it is a time to enjoy each others' company and savor the dishes you are eating. 

Well, here you are...Pied au cochon...The pig's foot. After all, it was the name of the damn restaurant, so you kind of have to do it, right? Now you might remember our earlier "dinner of innards." In the Japanese American culture, we believe that you live an extra 75 days every time you try something new--looks like Kyle and I will be living to age 115 at this point.

Well, it was absolutely scrumptious. The outside was crispy and salty and the meat was rich and almost buttery in texture. I was surprised at how porky it tasted--don't know what I was expecting it to taste like (maybe like a barn yard???). I just did my best not to think of Babe.

Kyle managed to polish the whole dish off. And in case you are wondering, yes, some of those bones on that plate are the toes. Hope we don't have any vegetarians reading this blog.

This picture sums up our feelings at the end of the meal: SO FULL! 

Happy Eating,

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