Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Wonders of Chirashi

It is possible that you are beginning to think that all I am doing in France is eating.  It is also possible that this is true.

I've been eating sushi for a long time now and I'm used to ordering my salmon & avocado roll, spicy tuna roll, and so on.  On occasion, we'll go all out and order nigiri.  And of course, there was the magical night we experienced the delectable and unforgettable Sushi Taro prix fixe menu.  I still dream about that fatty toro...

In any event, I have been pleased to discover that sushi has hit Paris in a major way. In our neighborhood, there are easily as many sushi restaurants as boulangeries.  Two on our block, in fact, including the one I blogged about a couple weeks ago.  Our first week here, Mr. Oil came home from work and told me about something called chirashi.  And my life has yet to recover.

Basically, chirashi is a bowl of delicious sushi rice topped with a gorgeous thick cover of sashimi.  After Mr. Oil experienced chirashi with his colleagues, he wouldn't stop talking about it.  And once I got over being annoyed that he goes out to lunch every day while I eat three mirabelles and a piece of bread while hanging out with Baby Oil, I realized - wait a second. I am going about this all wrong. I can go to lunch too.

Last week I was walking home from a playdate in Neuilly (about a 40 minute walk) and passed a very nice looking Japanese restaurant.  Baby Oil was asleep in the stroller, I was armed with my Kindle, and I decided to take myself to lunch - if only to finally understand this chirashi business.  And while I felt a mite self-conscious among all the French lunch-eaters chatting away, once that sushi arrived I simply did not care.

The best-tasting rice I've ever had, and some of the most melt-in-your-mouth salmon I've experienced.  And it is big. And if you're dining with others, you don't even have to share (I know some of you out there secretly hate sharing sushi - and yes, I know who you are).   I don't know whether the sushi joints I've frequented in the US serve this and I've just missed it on the menu, but it has revolutionized my sushi experience.  In fact, we went to sushi again this weekend so we could finally have chirashi together.  Each with our own bowl, of course. 

Since I'm already dedicating this post to food, I'll just mention the excellent foul (prononunced "fool") we ate tonight - and the even more excellent fact that it came from a can.  Mr. Oil and I ate a lot of foul when we were in Israel a few years ago but we never saw it that often in the US. Last weekend at the Marche des Enfant Rouges, I saw cans of foul for sale at the Lebanese stand and I figured, how bad can it be? (Answer: yes, sometimes I really am that dumb - or as I like to think, optimistic.)  So we heated up the foul in a pot today, with Mr. Oil making skeptical grimaces as I added lemon juice, salt, and a little olive oil.  Scooping it on top of fresh hummous from the Lebanese restaurant up the block, we tentatively dug in - and were certainly rewarded for our faith in canned goods!

Finally, on the food front,  a brief homage to Picard.  A brilliant business model, this store consists only of frozen food.  Literally.  Freezer cases of frozen meat, frozen fish, frozen pizza, frozen Thai food, frozen Chinese food, frozen Indian food, frozen vegetables, frozen soup, frozen sushi, frozen individual-sized meals, frozen quiche, frozen seafood, frozen pastries, and yes even ice cream. Picard is the tired cook's dream (or the non-cook's dream, or the tired mom's dream, or maybe just my dream).

On that note, I'm off to dream about what I might eat tomorrow...I think we need new cheese...mmm.