Curry Couscous in Luxembourg Gardens

My favorite meal on a trip is usually a mix of mouth-watering flavor and ideal atmosphere. While visiting Vancouver Island, it was eating fresh Halibut on the patio of a restaurant at sunset while watching planes land on the inlet. In Tuscany we devoured homemade pie made  from local berries  in a quaint trattoria. But in Paris,  my memorable meal wasn’t what you’d expect.

After we climbed and descended the 526 steps of the Arc de Triomphe, we tried to take the metro to Luxembourg Gardens. But after walking in endless circles, we realized we were  lost on the Left Bank.

The weather was cold.  A brisk wind cut through our many layers of clothing; our noses turned red and runny.

Ethan really had to pee.

And we were HUNGRY.

Thank goodness for public, self-cleaning toilets! They solved Ethan’s emergency just in time. And after running into tourists with a better map than ours, we figured out where we were, and where we needed to go.

But two problems remained: cold and hungry.

Just as the kid’s whining peaked at obnoxious, and Aaron and I started snipping at one another, we were hit by a delicious aroma. I grabbed his arm: “Aaron, where’s that smell coming from?” We turned and saw a man place a freshly baked tart next to the open door of his delicatessen.

We did an immediate about-face and walked into a scrumptiously warm oasis.

Collage of Sri Lankian Deli, Paris

Chase saw the slabs of meat and cheese and said, “I want HAAAMMM!” The owner chuckled, and immediately pulled out three slices, one for each hungry munchkin. The kids flopped onto the inner staircase, right at home. This delighted him even more.

As Aaron and the owner began the usual “Where are you from? How old are your kids? Are the boys twins?” conversation, I wandered the shop admiring the tarts, both savory and sweet.  The choices were endless. The smells — intoxicating.

Savory Tart, Paris

By the time Aaron learned that the owner was born in Sri Lanka and moved his family to Paris many years ago, we decided to try his Sri Lankan couscous with a legume curry, and a few pieces of ham and broccoli quiche for the kids.

We said our goodbyes, and carried our hot bundles of yummy goodness the last few blocks through the impressive gates of Luxembourg Gardens. I grabbed Aaron’s hand and said “Aaron, we are holding a bag of hope!”

As it began to lightly rain, we ducked under a grand pavilion, filled with small groups of men playing serious games of chess. We scooted chairs together into a circle, laid our meal out on our laps, and dove in.

The curry couscous was packed with rich flavor. I savored each bite, and happily shared it with Chase, who loved it as much as I. The quiche – melt-in-your-mouth creamy. We all giggled as we ate. The sprinkles finally ended; with full stomachs and rested feet, our recharged kids sprinted towards the playground, briefly stopping to play in piles of brown leaves along the way.

Kids Playing in Autumn Leaves, Luxembourg Gardens

Aaron and I sauntered after, holding hands, completely content. Yep, a meal I’ll always remember.