The Paris walking tour was fun but I think the highlight of my day was on my way home when I passed by Pozzetto (the gelato place that I bought ground espresso beans from on my first day here). It’s still unusually cold in Paris so I decided to pass on the gelato and just try their coffee instead (or I should I say ‘an espresso based drink’ since they don’t serve drip coffee – only Americanos. Here is where it gets fun/interesting. The menu was in french and although I could decipher about half of it, I really wanted to understand the type of coffee drinks that they offered. After asking the barista to explain the coffee menu to me, between my broken french and his half english I eventually decided on a caffe con panna (an espresso with whipped cream). The barista also explained that the two prices listed on the menu were for sitting at a table or sitting at the bar (emporter). I rarely drink espresso shots (I usually drink lattés) but I wanted to try it for the experience (besides, I’m sure I’ll be back for their gelato and will try another drink then). Boy, they really do know how to pull a good espresso. No wonder the place is so popular.
From the time that I stepped into the store, interacted with the barista and placed my order the place went from 3 people inside to over fifteen (standing room or to go only). I’m so glad I got the last spot at the bar before the mad rush. The Marais is quite multicultural in terms of the ethnic foods that’s available. I have seen Japanese places, Jewish delis, falafel stands and today I stumbled upon a Portuguese bakery! It is a tiny place but it caught my eye because as I looked in I saw a women bring out a basket of Portuguese egg tarts that had just come out of the oven! I ordered une pièce (1 piece which costed 2 euro) and the shopkeeper asked ‘naturale or cannelle’. Interesting…cinnamon on an egg tart? Why not? I automatically said ‘cinnamon’ (a reactionary English response when I really should be answering en français). The shopkeeper then replied in perfect english “Careful, the centre still might be soft”. Mmm…well that’s just music to my ears! There is nothing like a Portuguese egg tart that’s come right out of the oven. The pastry is delicate, light and flaky and the custard is soft and still warm. That was a magic food moment!
For me, it’s still hit and miss when I ask shopkeepers in the Marais if they speak English. Some speak very well and others say they only know a little bit. It’s definitely not the case in the more touristy areas like the area just north of the Louvre where I was today where everyone knows English (I find that I don’t even have to try when I’m in that area). However, Paris is different from Montreal (where practically everyone is bilingual) in that instead of people automatically switching to English when they hear my french, both parties make an equal effort (me with my broken French and them with their basic/intermediate English) to understand each other. J’aime ça !