May 23

If there’s one thing I’m obvious about it’s my love for French food.  So a couple weeks ago when I arrived in Paris, my very first destination was a classic bistro.  My only requirement was that it be on the way to the catacombs which I was on a mission to see having been interrupted by fate on my previous visits.  By random luck my company assigned hotel was walking distance to the catacombs and I had spotted a very traditional looking bistro just across the street.

Famished (it was around 2:00 and I’d only had coffee so desperate may be a better adjective) I set off from the hotel the minute I was checked in.  I noticed as I was walking to the catacombs that a lot of the people I was encountering were from Africa — I didn’t stop to think about what this would mean for food in the area because I was extremely focused on a crepe and onion soup or pommes frites.  I walked into a very classically french looking bistro, ordered a un verre cote du rhone (in another post I’ll discuss the language barrier that lead to a one-person, one-bottle of wine lunch) and began to peruse the menu.

It was only then I realized I was in a restaurant that specialized in African, not French food.  I ordered the chicken with couscous and the photo you see is what they presented as lunch for one person.  I wish I could remember the name of this establishment because the meal was so fantastic that I couldn’t wait to come home and recreate it.  If you are in Paris, seek directions to the catacombs (metro stop DenfertRochereau see the map here) The restaurant is on rue Froidevaux and you can see the park above the entrance to the catacombs from it.  This was an inexpensive spicy amazing lunch!

Here’s my re-creation of the recipe

1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs skin removed

3 T olive oil

28 oz diced tomatoes

32 oz chicken stock

1 white onion diced

3 zucchini cubed (keep the chunks big so it doesn’t disintegrate)

6 cloves garlic minced

3 carrots diced

3 ribs celery sliced

2 bay leafs

salt and pepper to taste

handful chopped flat leaf parsley

1 T Sriracha sauce (you can add more later but this is a condiment that deserves respect)

Brown the chicken in olive oil, transfer to a slow cooker, add remaining ingredients stir and set on low.  Cook for 4 – 6 hours. Serve over mounds of couscous.  Other condiments could include garbanzo beans, golden raisins, more hot sauce

As for wine, if you like sweeter whites this is a light flavor and I think a Riesling would balance the spiciness.  As for us, we aren’t big sweet wine drinkers so we had it with a Merlot — or — have a cold crisp beer always a good accompaniment to spicy food.

I can’t resist leaving you with a picture of me in the catacombs …

The docent was having fun with silly lighting, kinda ruined my pic

The docent was having fun with silly lighting, kinda ruined my pic

6 million people are buried here

6 million people are buried here

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