Our last day in Paris was a quest to accomplish as much as possible in an inconceivably small amount of time. The day started bright and early at seven am, at which point I was woken up to jump in a taxi to Notre Dame for Easter morning Mass. It was a wonderful experience to the Easter service in such a historical location. After mass, my friends and I navigated our way through the hoards of people and eventually wandered many miles to the Eifel tower. We had the ambitious goal of making it to the top so that we could see the amazing city views, however we were very dismayed to find an intimidating line that would have taken all day long to get through. We opted instead to have a nice little brunch and then spend some time sprawled out on the grass in front of the tower.
Throughout the entire trip, I was determined have a croque madame. The sandwich is one of my favorite meals back in America so I knew that I had to try one in France for a comparison! The croque madame is a simple sandwich, with creamy béchamel, ham and gruyere cheese usually served open-faced on a baguette and broiled in an oven until the cheese bubbles up and crisps. The Final touch is a fried egg thrown on top. I like to dig in with a fork and knife and make the perfect bite of doughy bread with salty ham and gobs of stringy melted cheese soaked up in runny egg yolk. The restaurant we chose to eat in was a small café at the base of the Eifel tower. While the sandwich was good, I have to admit that the dry toast and flavorless filling was woefully disappointing.
Dinner was a much more satisfying experience than lunch. In the evening, my friends and I took a nighttime tour of the city by boat. In an effort to experience the views to their fullest potential, we decided to sit outdoors on top of the boat rather than sit below deck, behind windows in a cramped room. The sacrifice in this was that the weather was frigid and as usual, I had miscalculated when packing my suitcase. By the time we had finished the two-hour tour, I could no longer feel my fingers or toes and was shivering to the bone. We stumbled from the dock up to the main street and rushed into the first restaurant we could find- a steakhouse, bingo. That night, we all ordered the exact same meal, a highly anticipated steak frites with béarnaise sauce. This time I was not disappointed and I savored every last bite of medium rare filet. However, while the steak was delicious, it is the appetizer that has stayed in my memory. That night I tried frog legs for the first time in my life. I had heard descriptions that frog legs “taste like fishy chicken”, a seemingly unappealing description, so I was not expecting to fall in love. However, I was surprised and delighted to find that the dish was amazing! The frog legs were lightly battered and came with a refreshing lemon aioli for dipping. Frog legs are indeed very similar to chicken wings, but they are more delicate, with smaller bones and a light flesh. The only comparison I drew between fish and frog legs was the tender, flaky texture of the meat.
My adventure in France was short-lived but memorable. I had a fantastic time and I feel lucky that I was able to see so many beautiful and historic sights. I feel lucky that I was able to sample several famed French culinary dishes. I feel lucky that I was able to explore and learn. However, none of these experiences would have been half as good without the people that I was with. I mostly feel lucky that I got to explore this city the way it should be done, with friends who are as crazy about eating as I am.