Last summer, I went to Paris for five days with a dear friend of mine. We stayed with a British/Spanish family in Malakoff, a suburban commune in the southwest of Paris. The couple had fallen in love in Paris many years ago, and had decided to make it their home. They welcomed us into their home, like we were their teenage children, and almost every morning and night, we would eat together.
In the morning, I’d have tea and toast with the Spanish academic, and we would talk about everything from politics to gender identity. During the day, my friend and I would be off doing what tourists do in Paris, visiting the Eiffel Tower, Musee D’Orsay, Arc de Triomph, the Seine River, Notre Dame de Paris, etc. Then in the evening, we would return for a family dinner with their real teenage children. Most nights, dinner was out on the patio, but one night, we lounged around eating fresh bread, foreign cheeses, and fancy salads, watching Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst. The next morning, we took the train to Versailles. Versailles was exquisite, but to be honest, my best morning was in Malakoff at the market. The market was a fusing of cultures, breads, olives, cheeses, fish, vegetables, fruits, and household goods. It reminded me of an Asian market, filled with the energy of the local vendors, and the haggling clientele.
I had a good five days in Paris, and as much as I enjoyed the museums and monuments, it was the food (bread and cheese) and the family in Malakoff, that left a lasting impression.