Monday 8 May 2023

And we ate the zoo

To name some epic dinners I haven’t been to: Jesus’s last supper, the banquet where Cleopatra drank her pearl, when they ate the zoo and the last vendredi soir at le Saint Eutrope — which technically I have been to, but not to the one in the wilds of my imagination where it’s me who gets to choose the menu. 

Luckily I couldn’t. Luckily no one could. Luckily the impossible task of limiting an unlimited number of best of-s was left to the only people I would trust blind to be able to. What follows is therefore a fantasy menu cherry-picked from reality, my memory and my phone’s memory, no small amount of GB has been taken up preserving what is now history! The ancient Egyptians had their marble-carved hieroglyphics, we have chalk-scrawled blackboards that go:


Vendredi soir

To start, after the gen-to for apéro:

Dipping radishes because otherwise it would be dipping fingers in the anchovy butter. 

Also with:

Vitello tonato i.e. sandwich filler q: who invented veal via a spoon?

Followed by:

A citrus mosh-pit, or Punterella, agrumes, stracciatella on a plate to match. 

(Keep the spoon.)

Followed by:

Bao, Chinese for goose-down pillows stuffed with crisp-fried belly fat and slivers of face mask cucumber and always one bao too small, better would be at least two.

Followed by:

Pizza fritta. M O R E and A L W A Y S and WHY NOT ALWAYS and one to go to ease in to the hangover the morning after.

Accompanied by:

Any of the non-fried variations that go by the name of fougasse. Yes we’re accompanying fried dough with non fried dough, add extra pied mutton if it makes you feel better. 

Followed by: 

A boubaisse-y base of fish pierced by lemon in which swims hand rolled black pasta. 

Followed by: 

Tripes. The Sichuan ones. You are our source of coriander in Auvergne. 

For mains:

Anything cooked 7+ hours for 2+ to share in a pot with a knife stuck in it — but with chips beef fat-fried, please.


Dessert! I’ll have two. The baby fist mushroom bun soaked in as many measures as you like of your choice of rum, and the bavarois which, as a suspected dyslexic, was for YEARS a mystery to me until this January when someone ordered it and I realised I've lived 34 years never having been intimate with an upside down puddle of barely solid cream.


Le Saint Eutrope was the local for everyone, from near, from far, from Paris. As much for those of us who live ‘close’ in Auvergne for whom everything is far as for those passing through from the other side of the world. Good things come to an end, so I've heard! Tomato season, the last luggage-squished slice of leftover birthday cake, my tolerance for early mornings which re-sets to zero with the end of the vendange. But still, there aren’t many places for which I’d drive 200km round trip for lunch and not infrequently stay for dinner when I do. Time for me, I suppose, to drive less and put my eggs in different baskets. Time for you to open something new — soon! But change nothing. Or maybe serve more bao. Maybe fry it? Serve chips and ice cream with it? Ok ok, time to move. Cheque please. And my pizza fritta to go.

Thank you!! 

In 2019 I wrote about le Saint Eutrope and it started like this and if you're feeling nostalgic the rest you can read yourself:

"Some kids get the itch to become astronauts but when I’m grown up I want to be Harry Lester." 

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