Saturday, October 22, 2011

Taking Pictures of Food - Yay or Nay? (Café Constant)

Foie Gras

It's nearing the end of October, and I still haven't even finished writing about my visit to Paris from the end of July. I'm such a terrible blogger; no wonder why nobody reads my blog. But anyway, continuing on with the recap of my three-day foodfest in Paris, I visited Café Constant for dinner on a Saturday evening. I had actually wanted to eat at Chez l'Ami Jean, but they were full, so I resorted to my backup plan just a couple of blocks away. As the restaurant is very close to the Eiffel Tower, there were a ton of places catering to tourists in the neighborhood. While Café Constant -- with its English-speaking staff and English menus --  is quite obviously one of the restaurants in the area catering to tourists, the quality of its food makes it clear that it is anything but your typical tourist trap.

Baguette -- SO GOOD

Slices of fresh baguette are served after you are seated. I haven't been showing the pictures of the bread at all of the places in Paris that I've eaten at, but it's amazing how something that is taken so much for granted in Paris -- fresh, delicious baguette -- is so hard to find in the US. Trust me, every restaurant or bistro gives you damn good bread; I don't think I had a bad baguette during my entire stay in Paris. Why can't we have such good baguettes in the US? Good, fresh baguettes -- is that so much to ask for?

Despite already having eaten foie gras with my lunch earlier that day, I ordered the Foie Gras (pictured above) for my first course. It's a vacation after all, right? The foie gras at Café Constant was smoother, creamier, and richer than what I had at Christophe earlier that day. This foie gras spread like butter, and, when smeared on the buttery brioche that accompanied it, was impossibly smooth and incredibly delicious. Ridiculously rich and decadent, but it was totally worth it.

Foie Gras-Stuffed Quail with Fresh Peas and Mushrooms

As if I hadn't eaten enough foie gras that day, I got a special for my main course that was described as foie gras-stuffed quail with fresh peas and mushrooms. To be honest, quail tastes kinda like chicken, but what really made this dish stand out was the pea and mushroom medley littering the bottom of the casserole dish. Along with chunks of bacon and onion, how could you say no to such amazingness? The foie gras lodged inside of the quail didn't hurt, either. In a day where I had already consumed about eight ounces of foie gras, my arteries were already a trainwreck, so another ounce or two of foie gras shouldn't make things much worse, right?

While the food and service were pleasant, there was one gripe I had during the course of my meal. As I was snapping a couple of photos of my main course, a French couple one table over began making gesticulations at me and talking rapidly in French. While I don't speak a word of French, it was pretty obvious that they were talking about my picture-taking habit -- pointing, hand gesticulations, and pantomiming the act of taking a picture speak for themselves and need no translation. As it is, I usually feel a bit self-conscious when I take pictures of food, especially when I'm eating alone, but add to that the fact that I was in a foreign country surrounded by people speaking a language that I do not speak, and I was pretty uncomfortable with taking pictures. I mean, yeah, taking pictures of food has actually become pretty common in the US, but in France, it seems like they are a bit behind with the times, whether it's how so few restaurants in France actually have functional websites, or how many French people just find it so peculiar that someone would want to take pictures of their food. I don't know, maybe I'm just making this out to be a bigger deal than it really is, and maybe it's something that comes with the territory, but I was really put off by the couple's conspicuous pointing and gestures, as well as their mockery of what I was doing (they were laughing and chuckling to themselves the whole time) and overall lack of decorum; I've never experienced a situation that made me feel so self-conscious before. So my question to all of you out there is this: what do you think about taking pictures of food at restaurants? Is it really all that weird? Should I be so self-conscious about it? I'd love to hear your anyone else's opinions about this.

Café Constant
139 rue St. Dominique
75007 Paris


  1. I read bro - and love every word. I just wish you would get on the twitterverse for more direct access.

    I was also hooked from my first taste of foie.I lost my virginity to a seared piece, it looks like you had all terrine during your foiextravaganza, have you had other versions?

    I like quail because it's all dark, but it can be a lot of effort for little meat.

  2. oh and I think you know where I stand on taking pictures of food. Your food, your choice - so long as you're not using a flash it's not disrupting anyone.

    I hope you offered back a, "va te faire foutre" spoken with your best Parisian accent.

  3. Yeah, the only foie I had in Paris (excluding the foie-stuffed quail) was of the terrine variety, so I'm curious to see how seared foie compares.

    And I wish I had known at the time how to say "va te faire foutre." The next time I encounter a rude Frenchman, I'll be prepared.