6/21/10

A Vegetarian in Paris

The French seem to eat meat, meat, and more meat.  Not only is there an absence of vegetarian options at most restaurants in Paris, but the meat options are on the barbarous side.  As in: every menu seems to include pate au foix gras. 

We did visit one vegetarian restaurant (Le Potage du Marais) while in Paris, but that was only a partial success.  Hurray for the fennel soup, but the seitan burguignon was...well...seitan burguignon.

Having a "different" diet is a pain while traveling.  You want to fully experience another place--that's the whole point of traveling.  But there are limits to flexibility, and they aren't even necessarily chosen.   When in China, I bet even the most avid carnivores have problems eating dog, even if they'd like to "do as the Romans do." Morality seeps down to the gut level, so that having a mouthful of dog is likely to be involuntarily unpleasant (for western dog lovers, whether they eat other meat or don't). 

I feel the same way about trying the beef burguignon in France or the prosciutto in Italy.  The ethics of eating I normally abide by has worked its way into my taste buds.  So I discovered when I attempted to respond flexibility to accidentally ordering pasta with a "pomodoro ragout" in Italy.  It turns out a ragout contains ground beef.  Over the protestations of my kids, I decided I'd just eat it (it was expensive, and I didn't want to try to explain the problem to an Italian waiter).  I soon discovered this was pretty much like eating dog.  It was--ewww.

It's a pity that vegetarians can't enjoy all the local specialties (like Tuscan polenta with wild boar).  On the other hand, we can be especially appreciative too.  Italy and France have the most gorgeous fruit and vegetable stands!  For non-vegans, the gelato in Italy is nothing short of incredible.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was browsing amazon.fr (where I usually get my books from) and noticed that 4 out of 6 best selling books are about this Dukan diet that tells you to eat more and more meat to lose weight

http://www.amazon.fr/gp/bestsellers/books/

it's very sad imagining all these overweight people eating even more meat

amos said...

You have a talent for food photos. I am very very square because your photo of the vegetable stand tempted me more than the one of the gelato or gelati.

crystal said...

Years ago my sister and I were the only vegetarians on a vacation tour of Europe. We ended up skipping a lot of the food offered, like the octopus in Greece, but we had some other great stuff, like aspragus sandwiches in Switzerland. In Paris we ate a lot of french fries :)

rtk said...

Agree, the photos are excellent, both here and in the Miscellany post. French fries...ahem...are cooked in suet. I've eaten horse in Paris. The hostess thought that was a good joke and was disappointed that I said it was sweeter than beef and well prepared. Although my preferences qualify me as almost a virtuous, discriminating, moral, diner, your post reminds me of the advantage of having zero rules that bind me. I can still choose whatever without guilt even if that choice does go toward the octopus and not the cute little calf.

Jean Kazez said...

Anonymous, That's surprising. At least Parisians are noticeably thin, compared to Americans. A very popular diet book here is called "Why French Women Don't Get Fat" (or some such). It's all about staying thin by adopting French eating habits.

Crystal, Asparagus sandwiches...Mmm. One of our problems was having picky children in tow. No asparagus sandwiches for them, I'm afraid.

RTK, Care for some dog stew? Just askin'.

rtk said...

grrrrrrr.....just arfin'.

Faust said...

As story of dog eating:

http://epiphany.chattablogs.com/archives/010381.html