Food is definitely the window to the soul, especially in Paris, one of the largest cities in the world. I met a lot of new friends at ENSEA through a shared love for trying food and eating. Every time we made a trip to Paris, we either went to shop or eat out and usually the latter a few times per trip.
The first time I visited Paris, we went with our entire French American Exchange (FAME) group and a few other French students from our school ENSEA. They guided us through the winding streets, kept us together in a condensed group to protect us from tourist scams, and planned several stops for us to take pictures and experience the new culture. At the end of the day, we stopped at a restaurant near the Eiffel Tower called Le Malakoff. Here, I tried steak and frites, and of course, french onion soup for the first time! As the first time venturing into French and European cuisine, I would say that Le Malakoff was a pretty good start.
The next time I visited Paris was in a smaller group of friends, and we stopped for four meals and taste-testing adventures! The first stop we made was at La Framboise Crepe, which specialized in both sweet and savory crepes. The next stop we made was to Aki Bakery, which was in the Japanese district of Paris. This shop was unique because while specializing in Japanese flavor profiles and ingredients like matcha, the pastries they baked had a Parisian twist and the Japanese ingredients were applied to creations such as creme brulee, Swiss rolls, and mousse. The third stop we made was my absolute favorite, Happy Noodles, which was a restaurant we would eat at nearly every time we visited Paris thereafter. This Taiwanese beef noodle shop made its home near a bar district and specialized in fresh hand-stretched noodles, which you could see the chefs preparing from outside the shop. Seating and reservations were incredibly hard to secure, but the wait for a table was well worth it! As aforementioned, this restaurant quickly became a go-to favorite every time we were in the city and looking for some good food to eat. The last stop we made was at a locally owned gelato shop near the LGBTQ+ district, which was a sweet treat for the end of our first time navigating the foodscape of Paris.
The multicultural blending of cuisine styles in Paris makes it one of the best food capitals in the world, and I sure have the food experiences to back up my claims. The anecdote I reflected on in this passage was repeated many times with a number of different people and cuisine types in France, Switzerland, Italy, Czechia, and even Germany. Food connects people, places, and communities, which was a recurring theme I experienced while I was in France, and I’m really grateful I got to experience trying new foods with all of my friends.