Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Road to the Italian Kitchen: So far, the journey to Bologna has all personality of a grease fire in the kitchen. As one might expect, the culinary standard of the dinner on my flight from New York to Paris was nothing short of alarming. I had high hopes when the flight attendants actually passed out printed menus in the coach section. These were roundly dashed when the meal was presented – a tiny sliver of chicken sitting in sweet potato soup and shellacked with something billed as chipotle sauce. This was washed down with a fine California Shiraz called “Fish Eye,” no year of vintage provided.

Not long after, a poor gentleman in the cabin suffers a small stroke. This forces the captain to make an emergency medical landing in Dublin, Ireland, where we are seriously delayed awaiting refueling. Upon arrival in Paris Charles De Gaul, I miss my connection to Bologna by about two-and-a-half minutes, and the next flight is not until after 8:00 p.m. I have been told that I attract crises. I’m beginning to believe that urban legend …

So, how to kill seven hours in the airport waiting for the best Italian food of my life? Food, or perhaps high end toiletries are the only options, so I head for the only restaurant in sight, “France Café.” I’ve got to hand it to the Parisians. Even their fast food has a wholesome, rustic quality. I order a baguette mixte, jambon et frommage (that’s ham and cheese to the rest of us) and a glass of vin rouge. The baguette is crunchy and the ham smoky and tender. Even the wine is far superior to last night’s juice. Keep in mind, that I’m sitting in an airport, so all these comparisons are subject to jet lag and hallucination.

I finish off my airport café dejuener with a tarte au pomme and café au lait. The individual tarte is nicely topped with caramelized apple slices, and the café au lait is strong, bitter and frothy. Meanwhile, the world is checking their luggage before my very eyes.

I probably won’t make it in time for dinner at the top restaurant in Bologna. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they offer takeout.

© 2006 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

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