Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Market Brunch in Lyon and Parisian Memories
The most memorable meal I ate in the last week was not one I made. The specialty salad at an all night restaurant in Paris, La Poule au Pot, is a simple, yet ravishing bowl of spinach leaves and chicken livers in a savory vinaigrette, and my even more ravishing dining partner, a Frenchman, originally from the south, was the one to introduce it to me. “Ça me plait”, he said, when explaining that this meal is the one he orders regularly when dining here, and now I know why. Elegant and hearty, the acid of the dressing balances the rich livers, and writing about it now makes me want to hop a flight back to Paris to experience the evening again from the start.
Little did I know that this salad had a history among my friends. Returning to New York, I recounted my French adventures to my dancer friend Daniel, who knows the restaurant. “Did you have the spinach salad with the livers?” was his first question when I told him about dining at La Poule au Pot. “Tom claims that salad is responsible for a performance of a lifetime,” said my friend. “Tom said he felt invincible after eating that salad.”
La Poule au Pot is a restaurant frequented by performers from the nearby theaters. When in Paris, and during my time dancing with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, we generally stayed near Les Halles, the neighborhood of the restaurant, and within walking distance to Théâtre de la Ville, where we had two week seasons. By the time the evenings’ shows were finished, the more conventional nearby restaurants had long closed, and La Poule au Pot came to the rescue for many of us, Tom and Daniel included, but I don’t think I’d ever actually eaten there before now.
I don’t know about feeling invincible, but that salad certainly contributed to my not wanting to leave Paris. The lovely evening at La Poule au Pot, visiting my best friend Cheryl, spending time over rich meals in Lyon exchanging ideas with my good friend Cédric, working with the incredible dancers of the Ballet de l'Opéra de Lyon, enjoying champagne-filled evenings with said friends, and unexpected and spontaneous moments creating new ones. Only one week in France and I’m already nostalgic. I’ll be back, Paris, and La Poule au Pot, and with some pretty great memories.