I was in Paris last week for a photo shoot for CBS Watch magazine.
We did a vintage couture retro photo shoot at Hotel Le Bristol. It was very high fashion; big hats, gloves, posing awkwardly like I’m a 6 foot tall 120 pound model in Vogue magazine or something. It was crazy and super strange to be the “model” mostly because I am only 5’4″ and haven’t weighed 120 pounds since my Sweet 16. But it was also neat. And once I got my passport and actually arrived in Paris, it turned out to be a nice trip, if brief. Because I forgot my passport and had to have it overnighted and thus my trip got cut short by a day.
Here’s a photo of the entryway to my suite. I am not showing pictures of the actual suite because it was embarrassingly fancy and ostentatious and I seriously feel so ridiculous showing any pictures of it. Seriously.
I know you have so many questions about Paris. Did I see the Eiffel Tower (from a distance) and is it really as hostile to gays as the news says (yes) and did I get to see Jim Parsons (yes) and did I see the Tuileries Garden (yes) and Luxembourg Garden (yes) and was it soooo romantic (no).
But the most burning question you have I am sure is, “How the heck does a vegan eat in Paris?” Well, this is an excellent question and the answer is: “Not very easily and not very often and not very well.”
Why? Well, the French revere cooking. Rich cooking. With tons of butter and cheese in everything. They don’t seem to generally believe in ethics dictating food. I mean, I’m sure some do. But most don’t. It was painful to go anywhere or order anything. So I didn’t go out much to non-vegan places. It wasn’t worth the explanations and the odd looks I get.
It’s especially hard to be vegan in Paris since this is the culture that produces this kind of adorable deliciousness which I did not partake in.
I was barely in Paris 48 hours, so I didn’t have that much time to annoy French waiters and chefs. My solution was the following: don’t go out much, and seek out vegan places.
Hotel Le Bristol had a “Japanese breakfast” which I ordered without the salmon or omelette. It looked like this once I cut out the animal things:
Yup: miso soup, white rice, soy sauce (they call it “soya sauce” but whatever) and OJ. Done.
The one day I ate lunch out I went to Rue du Rosiers (the Jewish quarter) and had vegan falafel and some amazing vegan salads: artichoke and fennel, hummus, tahina, eggplant. It was cool to see chasidic French Jews and American tourists and French people all hanging out on the same streets enjoying falafel.
Both nights I was there, Jim Parsons and I ate at vegan places we had researched from VegNews magazine and the web. One place called Gentle Gourmet made the most incredible vegan cheese beignets, served on delicate slices of apple. This was the finest cheese I have ever had.
The next night I had incredible vegan French Onion Soup at a vegan place called Le Potage. It was amazing.
When I arrived home to Los Angeles to my two boys, I did not have time to go to the market or cook anything before Shabbos started. In keeping with this food-themed post, here is what I served them for dinner.
That’s right: vegan macaroni and rice cheese (one of the few frozen foods I actually buy) with a bowl of pinto beans and corn drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. And a Kermit the Frog spoon. They loved this dinner so much and asked for pinto beans and corn all of Shabbos. Go figure.
You can travel the world for cuisine that satisfies you, but it’s hard to satisfy all needs all the time. I was glad my boys reminded me how simple it can be to eat and enjoy food, without even stepping outside of your own home.
I’m glad to be back.