I'm usually pretty okay with spending time with just myself, so this revelation didn't throw off my entire weekend happiness. However, I figured I had better come up with something to do with myself - something to look forward to once I got home.
Across the street, at Maubert Mutualité metro stop, was an entire place full of boulanger, fromager, boucher, and cave à vins - France's version of the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick-maker turned wine and cheese aficionado. So, I walked across the street to see what kind of feast I could gather for myself.
My attention was immediately pulled to the fromage - oh the fromage! the billions of choices! Yes, I definitely needed some fromage. and wine. and bread. and Sex and the City the movie. parfait.
I walked up to the fromager and realized that I had no idea what I was doing. Do I wait in the line? But then how do I know what I want to order? Can I walk around the tiny store to look at the choices first? Or will people think I'm cutting in line? I poked my head in to get a better look - 25 Euros per kilo for Roquefort?!!! How much for just a slice? How will I know how much to order?
The complexity of the situation was just too much to handle. I ran back to the other side of the street, got a red-bean Thai bubble tea that I soon learned tastes like paste, and walked home, defeated.
EIGHT years in France and I can't figure out the stupid fromager?! What is this mess? I decided that I absolutely had to make it my mission to go to the fromager and confidently order cheese - no matter the cost.
I had my moment this weekend. Again, Friday night, I found myself without plans, walking home from errands in town (ps - what is my deal with Friday and no plans? I am thirty and childless n'est pas?). Copain had lots of work and wouldn't be home until late. Okay Self, time for fromage! First I went to the boulanger and got some pain de compagne, sliced. Then I went to the cave and got a nice bottle of red, just for me. Finally, I gave myself a little pep talk and got in line at the fromager.
This fromager was smaller and happened to have a window-display of cheese to choose from where patrons waited in line - a sort of fromager with training-wheels, for newbies like me. There was no need to poke my head into the store and risk being called a line-cutter. While normally the time spent in lines en France drives me absolutely mad, this time I was happy to have ten minutes to think about my order (and my budget).
Cabri Feuille - is that chèvre? yes, I definitely need chèvre. And it's sold individually, so I know it will only cost 5.95 Euros. Okay done. One Cabri Feuille.
Brebis - yes some of that too...also sold individually, no price guessing game to play. One of those for 6.80 Euros.
...and I should probably also get a slice of one of those gigantic cheeses on the back shelf, but which one? I thought back to my babysitting days when 8-year old Marine would cut off a big slice of Manchego for her after-school gouter (snack). If it works for Marine, it should work for me too, right? Okay, yes, one slice of Manchego.
Finally, it was my turn. I ordered my Cabri and Brebis, and then asked for a slice of Manchego (did I imagine it, or did the fromager snicker when I ordered that?). I told her that I wanted a small piece, as it was listed at 27.95 Euros the kilo! I had no idea what to expect, but I figured that I was practicing good risk-management by choosing two other cheeses at fixed prices - I could only really screw up one of my orders right? I mean, what on earth does a kilo of cheese look like?
The fromager rang me up and announced that I owed a whopping 17.64 Euros. Ouf.
I paid her, walked home, and hiked up five flights of stairs to my Parisian pigeon-hole.
Then, I admired my work:
I poured myself a glass of wine (in my new Hema wine glass!), made a fresh salad with noix de cajou (cashews), placed two pieces of bread on my plate, and carefully sliced off a chunk of each cheese. Then I added some pears from the marché for good measure.
Maybe it was because spending 17 Euros on cheese was unfathomable, maybe it was because I had no idea what I was doing - or maybe it was a combination of both, but I can't really believe that it took me this long to conquer the French fromager.
I can now tell you with confidence that Manchego is very salty - and after a quick Google search, Spanish, that I prefer Brebis that is has more of a kick, and that chèvre is always the way to my heart. Next up - Saint Nectaire, Roquefort and the classic, Camembert.
French Cannes Cannes has conquered the fromager. How you like them apples?