“To the tables down at Mory’s…..to the place where Louis dwells….” I couldn’t get the lyrics out of my head ever since I saw the name of the new Venician “bar” that recently opened across from the old Bourse. The name of the place was misspelled at least once as Mori’s rather than Mori, but the former leads me into the topic of eating ethnic food in Paris.
My suspicion is that visitors to the city for a few days or weeks want to spend their six or twelve or whatever number of meals indulging in consuming French cuisine and could give less of a damn about Korean, Italian or Thai food. And that holds especially from folks from San Francisco, Chicago or New York where ethnic food can be better than in the Mother Countries. However, I also have noted that ex-pats who’ve been here for over a year begin to see things differently. And that goes for me too on year-long stays; suddenly an American brunch on Sunday, or lunch at the Blue Elephant, or dinner at an Indian place seems appealing. Indeed, there are entire guides to eating in foreign places; Routard probably publishing the most popular, called “Paris exotique,” but guides like Pudlowski have enough foreign places to constitute a sizeable portion of their content.
Why would one do this when French food is the standard. Well, for several reasons. First, in my opinion, it’s fascinating to see what new immigrants can do with French products; I had a Thai restaurant around the corner from me that I frequented for this reason alone.
Second, some places import products one can’t get easily in France and cook them superbly. N.B. It doesn’t always work that way; the late unlamented Bertie’s tried this; it imported UK products, for example, lamb, salmon and cheese and prepared them the French way. Problem, unpotting a can of potted crab or opening a bottle of Sussex wine was easy but a culinary and gustatory disaster.
An additional reason is that, in this day and age when Omnivore and Le Fooding are hailing influences from Spain, read Arian Ferran (El Bulli) and pastry from Japan, as the new winds blowing across and saving French cuisine’s future, it’s interesting to see what they’re doing.
And finally, it does provide a useful diversion from the dreary repetition of rabbit terrines, confit de carard and moelleux of chocolate.
Which bring me back to the tables down at Mori(s). Mori perfectly represents the dilemma posed by eating “foreign” food in Paris. While the focaccia, bread, bresaola, polenta, wine and Illy coffee were simply the best of the genre one could get in Paris, when one can be in Italy in a few hours by TGV and eat as well if not better for half the cost, why bother? (Admittedly I’d have a more difficult time getting Nepalese or Shandong cuisine.) In any case, you get my point.
Mori Venice Bar
2 rue du 4 Septembre, 2nd (Metro : Bourse)
T : 01.44.55.51.55
Closed Saturday lunch and Sundays
A la carte 40-60 €.
©2006 John A. Talbott