February 18, 2016

No "S" in Lyon

I have no photos today...so to make sure you get your money's worth, here's a thousand words. Seriously. Check it yourself.

We are in Lyon, where apparently there is a lot of fascinating history to explore. For anyone out there who has had two children under 6, you recall how much they adore discussing the Roman era versus the Middle Ages versus the Renaissance. What toddler doesn't love visiting churches, basilicas, or ancient theaters? 

Happily, everyone eats, and we are a bit more in tune with the city's gastronomic reputation. The typical Lyonnais restaurant is called a bouchon, and they dot the city's landscape, inviting the hungry local and traveler alike to step in from out of a cold February wind to linger over local specialties for 90 minutes or so. We chose Le Poêlon d'Or for our first foray into the city's food scene. 

When I reserved our table, I told the proprietress that we were four, two adults and two kids, but I am not sure she heard. When we arrived, she and her colleagues were a little perturbed when they saw that we meant kids kids, not teenagers or something. But 5 and almost 3 settled right into some crayons,a plate of rosette de Lyon, the local saucisson and a sirop a l'eau. There was no kids menu, but the waitress proposed to prepare an onglet, a deliciously tender hanger steak, with some mashed potatoes and a tomato sauce for the hungry wolves to share. "Tout est fait maison," she assured us, as if we didn't have confidence in the place. She needn't have worried; we thought that sounded great, and ordered ourselves the menu du jour. For me, that was a few salad greens under a canopy of thinly sliced almost-crispy potatoes which were dotted with the chunkiest lardons I have ever encountered and a dollop of melted reblochon cheese. (Sounds an awful lot like a certain dish I enjoy...). The boys' mother had a bountiful salad with chopped egg.

For the main course, while the boys worked their way through their perfectly-cooked steak (in English, it was "rare." Here, it is called saignant, or bloody. Ponder for a second the difference between ordering something "rare" -- such an exclusive word, like something Kate Middleton would wear at a wedding [though not her own...that would be "one of a kind"] -- and something "bloody." My friends in the UK might find this word quite useful in their everyday speech, but for Americans, "bloody" means, well, covered in blood. Red trauma. Never -- NEVER -- would it have occurred to the waitress to ask us, the parents who are intimately in-tune with the boys' eating habits and preferences, how they would like the steak cooked. Only a jackass would prefer it cooked other than the way it was presented, and, clearly, we are not jackasses...oh Lord, this parenthetical meandering needs to end...you've assuredly forgotten my meal!), I tucked into a "cake of chicken livers." I confess it sounds better in French: gateau de foies de volaille. A sizable square of meatloaf-like protein sat on a bright red pond of tangy tomato sauce. On the side was a small dish of fluffy rice. The whole family had bites, and pronounced it delicious. My wife had saucisson au vin rouge, a sausage cooked in a zippy red wine sauce accompanied by steamed potatoes. This, too, made the rounds of the table, to much applause. 

When we left, everyone pronounced the boys' behavior "impeccable." We walked out, proud parents. Fifteen minutes later, in the throes of tear-drenched hysteria brought on by having to leave the merry-go-round after only two rides, we were prepared to give the kind restaurateurs two "impeccable" children for a great price: free. 

Later in the day, as my wife watched our two children snake away from us, running up and down the viewing platforms of the train station, she said, "We should put a little card on them..." 

In a rare twist, I interrupted her. 

"...Saying, 'If found, please keep.'"

The next day, we went to a museum, which conveniently opened at 11:00am and had a giant line, meaning we were finally inside at 11:40. What could be better than starting a museum trip 20 minutes before lunch? Luckily, there was a casual cafe where one could grab something pre-made to stave off the Bear (over-stimulated child who is also hungry and tired= THE BEAR. Two of 'em plus a mother and father who are in the same situation after interminable line= a SLEUTH.) There were pastries, sweets, sandwiches...like an airport grab 'n go. BUTBUTBUT this is not an airport, this is a French museum. So, if the ham sandwich with butter didn't tempt you, there were also some cocottes du jour, the fresh offerings of the day, printed out on a piece of printer paper: leg of young duck with rice from three continents ...fish with orange butter and spinach...quenelles sauce nantua accompanied by rice, from just one continent this time.

Sadly, after the museum, it was firmly outside of the nationally sanctioned lunch hour (noon-noon and a half; later=weird) and the youngest BEAR was unruly. He was doing what the French call his "cinema," where he draws attention to himself in a negative way. To the Asian restaurant we go! There was -- wait for it -- a buffet. Where we live, this word does not exist. As one friend of mine put it, "ce n'est pas rentable." In other words, it wouldn't work. In a village of 200 people, where everyone goes home for lunch, he is of course correct. 

But what a treasure! Buffet = immediate eats! Sushi, egg rolls, shrimp, summer rolls...By the time the third bite of dumpling had passed the lips of our little one, he was saying, "Sorry for my cinema, Mom and Dad. I love you." 

As we smiled at him, I quietly took the card off his coat. He is a keeper.

No comments:

Post a Comment