Paying the price

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

There are almost an infinite number of places to eat in Paris. It's definitely my kind of city. I love trying new restaurants, new cuisines, new dishes, and even the same oldies but goodies (funny how that phrase now reminds me of the SATC movie I finally got to see this past week). But, sometimes, I get a craving for something that I can't find here. I know all transplants like me are familiar with the longing for peanut butter and Hershey Kisses and a chili-dog - sometimes it's the only thing that can satisfy a nostalgic pang, even if it's something we'd never regularly crave back in the States.

For me, when I'm missing home, like I was today, I crave Tex-Mex. In my book, there is absolutely nothing better than a "Combo plate" with rice and beans. It really is a cuisine I've never grown tired of. Unfortunately, it's not common fare here, and when I do stumble upon a self-proclaimed Tex-Mex joint, I usually find it to be serving more interior Mexican or Baja-Californian food than what I grew up calling Tex-Mex. Still, after paying 20 euros for a couple of tacos and a margarita, it usually does the trick and my craving is cured for the moment.

Thinking that I'd be able to reproduce my own nostalgic meals for a fraction of the price eating out, Gui and I stopped in at one of the local American shops in town a couple of weekends ago to scope out the place. Sure enough, they had what I was hoping to find (even if it wasn't in a familiar brand)! Presuming I'd found the answer to my occasional craving, I enthusiastically scooped up a can of refried beans, checked out the price and let out a sigh of disbelief. Nearly 4-euros for a freakin' can of beans - processed and all?! Knowing that I'd probably not find a bag of pinto beans anytime soon to do my own, I kept the can, carefully chose a few other over-priced items that I knew I wouldn't regret taking for later cravings, and we left the store before the 5-euro box of Jiffy mix or the 8-euro bottle of no-name pancake syrup could entice me any further.

Since then, I've decided I'll treat myself to an overpriced can of beans only for dire situations in the future, but it made me happy today that I was able to somewhat satisfy my obnoxious appetite for nachos. I still can't find decent tortilla chips here, so I opted to make a semi-7-layer dip using the beans, the jalapenos (from that same trip), some mimolette cheese (which tasted so much better than the weird "cheddar" they were selling at Monoprix), crème frâiche and fresh tomatoes and avocados. Gui couldn't get enough of the dip (that's my true Texa-frenchie) and I'd say that the 4-euros were well-spent. I haven't tried the "Original Texas beans" that I also bought at Thanksgiving, but I'm saving them for my next craving - maybe when it's for barbecue.

On a side-note, Gui and I are off to La Rochelle Thursday morning for a wedding. It's going to be a long drive, but I'm looking forward to this mini-vacation which I'm sure will include tons of eating (we're told there will be regional fare served, which means seafood - yeah, my fave!), and lots of trying to speak French. Luckily for me, there will also be beaucoup of champagne flowing.


avec amy said...

I can completely relate! I stumbled upon an honest-to-goodness jar of Skippy at Franprix of all places. It was about 3 euros for the half jar. Still pricey, but when I looked at what my husband was willing to pay for a jar of Nutella my guilt disappeared. For Thanksgiving, I sent my husband to the Thanksgiving store to buy cornbread mix. He returned with two boxes of Stove-top cornbread stuffing mix - 5 euros each! They’re collecting dust on our shelf. I’m sure I’ll end up throwing them out the next time we move.

Anonymous said...

I love the brand La Preferida- it's the closest to my mom's cooking I can get. Unfortunately they only sell the Goya brand here in Texas. What do you think of La Preferida?

Anonymous said...

Ah - "Thanksgiving" - the store that makes me chuckle the loudest when I'm in Paris.

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