Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Channeling Julia

I’ve just started reading My Life in France, by Julia Child. It’s my lunch time book – I have found that my most favorite lunches are those spent in small spaces, huddled over a bowl of soup with a book in my hand. I enjoy meeting up with friends and shopping, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t beat an hour of good food, good reading, peace and quiet.
Today’s small space was the Couscous Café, a Mediterranean café on M Street downtown. I’ve been to the Café before for takeout, but after five minutes walking in the wind and extreme cold, I figured I’d sit down, warm up and stay a while.
The menu offers many enticing items, but I settled on the chicken with couscous and vegetables. This was the most tender dish of food. Everything appears to have been cooking in a pot for the whole day- that’s the only way I can imagine food to be so flavorful, soft and perfect. Midway through my meal a sweet grandmother of a woman (was it the owner’s mother, Hadda?) offered up a warm cup of tea, complete with mint leaves. The cup was filled several times during my meal, almost like she knew it was the perfect accompaniment to my meal and to the experience. I happened to be reading a passage in My Life in France about Julia’s first French meal and how perfect the flavors were. She described the experience as eye opening and wonderful. To read about her innocence and the magic of that experience and how it shaped her life and career was a nice moment in the middle of a busy work day. I’m going to make an effort to take more lunch breaks, read more Julia Child, and eat more at the Couscous Café.

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