With the temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius – some ten degrees warmer than normal – over the past week, it is easy to mistake the time of year for August rather than October. While I’m certainly not complaining about the extra bout of warm days this Indian summer brought, the heat sapped my energy and robbed me of my appetite. In fact, I was sorely tempted this afternoon to make a lunch out of a venti cup of mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks before good sense prevailed and pointed me to a less sinful, but equally cool lunch.
On hot steamy days like today, one could do a lot worse than a chilled repast at Chez Marianne, in Marai’s Jewish quartier, where one can make a meal from the various Middle Eastern mezzes on offer. Coming in various sizes, I found the smallest platter of 4 choices (12 Euros) more than enough for me. As the rays continued to beat on the exposed sidewalks, I sat in the terrace, under the protective shade of the narrowly spaced buildings, whetting my appetite on sweet pickled peppers and briny olives. I slathered the rye and pumpernickel breads with cool, creamy, gently-flavored hummus. I can never resist eggplant, and adored both the aggressively garlicky caviar d’aubergines as well as the fried eggplant covered with baked tomato sauce, the eggplant fried till the skin is a crisp and the flesh is rendered impossibly silky and suffused with olive oil. The taboulé was unfortunately dry, bland and could have profited from a lot more herbs and acid. But 3 out of 4 wasn’t a bad score, and better yet? It left me room for another antidote for the heatwave afterwards, a chocolate-enrobed ice cream bar =)
2 Rue Hospitalières St Gervais, 75004 Paris