Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Déjeuner – Erich

Today we enjoyed lunch at a restaurant. I know, that doesn't sound like much. Maybe it isn't. But this was a restaurant in a French town, and there were some similarities and some differences.

The restaurant was called Plaisirs des Sens, which means Pleasures of the Senses. It was in the town of Prayssac.

It was about 13h10 or 1:10 PM when we arrived. In France, lunch is from 12 to 14 (meaning 12 to 2). Businesses are open in the morning, close from 12 to 2, and then reopen until 6 or 7 in the evening. But the restaurants are open for lunch. And then they close and they open again around 7 for dinner. They are not the sort of come when you feel like it establishments that we are used to in the United States.

So we were on the late end of arriving for lunch. When we arrived, several tables were taken. We saw a table for four that was available, but we weren't certain if we were allowed to seat ourselves or if we had to wait for someone to seat us. Ultimately, the waiter came out from another room and we said we wanted a place for four by saying “Déjeuner. Quatre.” Quality French there. I said “Lunch. Four.” He pointed to the open table set for four and we sat down.

The entire time we were there, only this one man ever came out to interact with customers.

Next came the dilemma of menus. He didn't give us any. He didn't seem keen to give us any. Eventually, Alrica walked up to the bar, took two menus, and brought them back to our table. We hope we didn't make a faux pas in that. (More quality French.) Later, one other couple came in. They seated themselves and went up to the bar, looked at the menus there and then sat down again.

The pricing structure for the menu was a bit different. Like in the U.S. there were appetizers (which they call entrées, so I'm not sure how entrée in English came to mean the main dish. It makes more sense as an appetizer, because it basically means entry.) Like in the U.S. there were main dishes (which they call plats.) And there were desserts (which they call desserts).

You could order these a la carte. (Wow! Quality French everywhere.) And all entrées would cost the same price, regardless of which entrée you ordered. All plats would cost the same price, regardless of which plat you ordered. And all desserts would cost the same price regardless of which dessert you ordered.

But it was a better deal to get the menu. Not the paper on which the items were listed. But the menu meant you were getting a combination of these courses. So you could order a plat and a dessert menu. This meant you chose any one plat and any one dessert. And then there was a fixed price for that, regardless of which plat or which dessert you chose. And that fixed price was less than the sum of the a la carte price of the plat and the dessert.

There was also a menu that allowed you to order an entrée and a dessert for one fixed price (less than the price of the menu of plat and dessert.) Or you could order an entrée, a plat, and a dessert as a menu. This, of course, cost more than the menu of plat and dessert. You could also order a menu of an entrée and a plat. Okay, you get the idea. You could get menus that combined, in various ways, these three choices (and actually some of the menus had a fromage or cheese as a course you could choose too, but I didn't want to confuse you.)

We each got a plat and a dessert. I had magret de canard, which is duck breast. I often think of duck as being greasy, but this was not at all greasy. I enjoyed it.

For dessert, I got a tiramisu, but not a traditional tiramisu like you might have gotten before. This one had a similar top layer, but then the lower layers were liquid and delicious. The flavor was much like the traditional tiramisu I have tried before.

Alrica had a filet Julianne, which was fish, and then a flan for dessert. And the kids both had piece de bœuf, which was literally a piece of beef (steak). And they had fruit salad with a scoop of ice cream (un boule de glace) for dessert. Carver chose passion fruit ice cream which in French is fruit passion. Syarra chose menthe au chocolate or mint chocolate.

We were asked, “Cafe ou fin?”. “Coffee or finished?” We said, “Fin.” But even then, the waiter did not bring the bill. This seems to be a common theme in restaurants outside of the United States, or at least in the nations we have so far visited. I guess you have to ask for it. I went up to the bar and then he presented it to me and I paid. (No dine and dash here. We are totally above board.)

So there were many differences. But one thing was the same. Music. They played music in the overhead speakers as we ate. Nothing too loud. Nothing too distracting. But when we paid attention, we realized it was songs in English that we would hear on the radio in the United States. Love lifted us up where we belonged. And someone paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

It was a lot of fun, an interesting cultural experience. And a tasty one.

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