I have a great picture of my mom from her trip to Paris years and years ago: She’s sprawled on a rock somewhere in the city, smiling a big, broad smile, holding up a prized bottle of Pepto Bismol.
I realize now that mom was really on to something. Because this past weekend, on the day we’d splurged for a babysitter and booked a table at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon for a real-deal Michelin starred dining experience, I woke up with…well, let’s just call them tummy troubles.
I had been dreaming about the small plates of langoustine ravioli and seared lamb chops and truffled oeufs en cocotte that would soon find their way to my belly for months. And of course I was also looking forward to a night out with Husband – a chance to be our old Paris selves without worrying about strollers and nap times and another human being’s bodily functions.
But the seas were angry that day, my friends. It wasn’t quite a London situation, but I did spend a good part of the morning curled up in the fetal position, sipping ginger-ale. I wasn’t remotely hungry. And my dreams were limited to finding some of that chalky-sweet pink nectar of the gods, which is apparently banned in France.
(To which I say: Really? Of all the things you could withhold from the people of your country, you’re going to ban Pepto? In a place where people are regularly served intestines sautéed in butter and mounds of steak tartare, this seems especially cruel)
Husband said we could cancel and do it again another time. But I was not about to let a little gastrointestinal distress keep me from what promised to be one of the most fabulous dinners of my life and one of our last hurrahs in Paris. So I showered up, took one last swig of ginger-ale, and popped a couple Tums just in case.
And when I sat down at the bar and gazed into that Robuchon kitchen, brimming with savory sauces and sweet confections, I wasn’t sure I could do it. But then I saw a young chef vigorously stirring a pot of something, whisking in ladle after ladle of golden melted butter. He stopped to taste a spoonful of the creamy white concoction, added a pinch of sea salt, and then when back to whisking and ladling, whisking and ladling.
The woman sitting next to us must have seen me gaping in awe, because she leaned over and said,
“Mashed potatoes. They’re the only reason I come here.”
And right then and there I decided I owed it to my taste buds to persevere. So I gritted my teeth, forced down a slug of champagne, and ordered up a seafood carpaccio appetizer.
I think my mom would be proud.