Tuesday, 21 August 2007

To Paris with a Mission

Autumn was already painting Paris with dashes of its golden brown colours when we arrived last weekend. The air was crisp and it was a few degrees hotter than the normal autumn temperatures. Just the right atmosphere for the mission we had in mind.

The location was strategic, the company was priceless; one who could read maps, knows her left from right and more importantly could say merci beaucoup and au revoir without flinching a muscle.

The mission: to muster all my culinary skills with what available ingredients we could get from the Parisian Chinatown and produce a meal that would put the spring back in the steps of a friend on the road to recovery after a sudden illness.

We waved goodbye to our husbands at Waterloo station last Friday and arrived Gare du Nord all excited at the prospects of an all girls weekend. The Citadines Apart’Hotel Place D’Italie provided just the right venue and after checking in, we embarked on a marathon metro ride that took us first to Notre Dame in search of food. Chefs must eat first before they can produce anything worth producing. We settled for chicken kebab oozing with fats and with that made our way to Pont de l’Alma – the place where the late Princess Diana met her death. There are still messages, lovingly written by her fans all over the world and somewhere amongst the scribbles, or perhaps washed away by the rain or faded under the glare of the sun, was a message by Kak Teh, hastily scribbled on 31st August three years ago.

Dragging along five year old S, we made our way across the bridge to Eiffel Tower where people were queueing up to get their tickets for the ride up the famous tower. We settled for a bench to rest our tired feet while S had her ice cream. I watched amazed as tourists employed various technics trying to get a good shot of the tower. They squatted, they bent backwards, they rested on their sides training their cameras up what, at a close distance, looked just like a mass of cranes. Walking back across the bridge to take the metro back to Notre Dame, only could we appreciate one of the seven wonders of the world as it stood towering majestically over the Seine as the evening sun disappeared over the horizon.

Notre Dame at night is a totally different place. We found street performers commanding their audience with their impressive dance routine and roller blading. Across the street we found an empty bench in front of the Shakespeare and Company secondhand bookshop. We rested our feet again before venturing into the land of eateries, stepping over smashed plates in front of Greek restaurants. It was in one of such restaurant that I enjoyed a Greek dance with a Greek waiter some time ago. Tired and heavy lidded we made our way back to the hotel and immediately fell asleep.

The second day in Paris was the big day. Husband phoned to give directions to Chinatown, which turned out to be literally at our doorsteps. Chinatown is in fact Vietnamese Town; lots and lots of Vietnamese restaurants and delis – a sure reminder and legacy of the French presence in Vietnam. Avenue de Choisy is a beautiful tree lined street that reminded me of Penang.

The menu changed with every step that we took but after three supermarkets and a stop to quench our thirst with sugarcane juice, we settled for noodles, noodles and noodles with bubur pulut hitam as our dessert.

Mee hailam was the starter and our guest arrived on time and wiped her plate clean before demolishing the bubur pulut hitam. That seemd to be just what the doctor ordered, we noted.

While we chatted about this and that, I prepared the gravy for the mee bandung using prawns. We didn't relish going out searching for meat and decided to make do with prawns. And with some prawns left I made sambal tumis and used the remaining green leaves to cook with kicap. And we ate ourselves silly until it was time to walk our patient home to the bus stop. It was a wonderful seven hours that we had together and it was time well spent.

As the night was still young, we couldn't resist coffee and crepe with nuttela. What is a visit to Paris if we can't enjoy sipping coffee by the roadside? Mission accomplished, we decided to reward ourselves with coffee and crepe.

Luckily Sunday is a no shopping day in Paris or for that matter in any part of France or the continent. So, we checked out and walked along Boulevard Auguste Blanqui where there was an open marketplace and I parted with Eu35 for a shawl from a Pakistani who raved about Malaysia and his Malaysian sister-in-law.

L'Institut du Monde Arabe was our next stop and bearing in mind husband’s words, we went straight to the 9th floor to enjoy the view of Paris. Lunch was cous cous with chicken at the self service Moroccan restaurant, served by a Moroccan who raved about Malaysia and Malaysians. Just for being Malaysians we got to be served at a self service restaurant, and we were given some free baklava. Then its coffee at the Abou Nawas cafe. We were really packing it in.

The last stop in the rain was the
Mosquée de Paris - a beautiful mosque built in 1922 to thank the North African countries for helping the French in the first World War. We prayed with others from other parts of the world and we prayed for our friend to have a speedy recovery.


wonda said...

Kak Teh,
Bless your good heart to be there for a friend. I'm blessed to have you as my friend. You have also enlightened me about Paris. My student's husband was sent to Paris to work there for a month. While he was there, he craved some Japanese red bean cakes and went to a famous Japanese shop that sells it. Guess what? He didn't eat it there but brought back the cakes to Japan and it has chocolate mixed with the red bean paste. Not authentic!

Theta said...

Paree oh Paree!

I confess I do have a love-hate relationship with Paris.

I'm happy that your trip went well and you got to sip coffee at the roadside.

We didn't get such opportunity but coffee in Jardin de Tuileries made up for the loss somehow.

As your entry professes, there are so many things to do in Paris that a few extra trips are needed! :)

norabella said...

KakZ, So nice of you to travel with E to be with A. Hope A is doing well. And...aiyoh...that sambal tumis and mee hailam so tempting delicious lah...slurrp!

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
What a nice thing to do! All the way to Paris to cook for your friend and to cheer her. I am truly amazed at human kindness.Recently I am blessed with the opportunity to contribute my experience in assisting an organization that tries to assist cancer suffers and survivors to lead meaningful life. What a humbling experience, I salute them and their family. There are so many good people in the world and there are many good things to write about yet some chose to highlight negative things in their blogs. Sigh!
You certainly bring back memories of Paris, a city that I love in the springtime, summer, winter an fall.Remember the song?
May Allah bless you and family. I will doa for your friend's recovery.Salaam, NanaDJ

Lydia Teh said...

Hi Kak Teh, what a wonderful trip : a noble mission, great company, good food and beautiful sights. One day, one day, in the distant future, I hope to go there too.

bergen said...

Kak Teh: Way to go, ma'am!

Typhoon Sue said...

Wah...syoknyerrr pegi paris...

i echo wonda; bless your heart to be there for a friend. Wish I have friends like you who will come a-knocking when I am ill. I am unwell now but nobody cares,.. boo-hooo!! *sob sob*

Anyway, have fun in paree!!!

Anonymous said...

thanks so much to kakteh, to come all the way with E & S to be with me. i missed your mee hailam, last night with your left over chinese celeri, i tried my best to do like yours, but it didn't turn out like your, tapi boleh makan lah.


Kak Teh said...

wonda@alice, friends have been wonderful to me.

theta, I had three days in Paris but next month there'll be another quick one and this time its work!!!

norabella, alhamdulillah A is looking good and in high spirits - apalagi kak kiah-kak kiah ni bila berjumpa sembang dan bergelak ketawa dengar satu Paris!

Kak Teh said...

NanaDJ, I think I know what it is like to be living away and not being in the best of health. I have seen many coming over here with some incurable illness and like you said, being with them, was a humbling experience indeed. My husband always reminds me that we have to be thankful for the good health that Allah has given us. May Allah bless you and your family too.

Lydia, any chance of stopping over here? I know you are busy now - cooking up something? another best seller?? let me know ya!

Bergen, thank you.

Kak Teh said...

typhoon sue, awwwww, sad to hear you are not well!!! Get someone to pamper you..kak teh jauh sangat! Paris was great when we were there - the weather, the people. We had lots of fun.

A, it was a real pleasure and if only we can spend more time together, we'd cook up a storm for you. We didnt want to tire you but Alhamdulillah you look good and you are the same old A - all jovial and fun. See you again next month.

D said...

WoW! Cuti-cuti sambil berbudi.. If I'm unwell, would you come and cook mee bandung for me too? *giggle*

Kak Teh said...

D, mee bandung, jawa, hong kong, kanton semua boleh. Mee mamak pun lagi boleh - hehe!

demonsinme said...

Madam KT:

Forgive me for the technicality trouble that I have caused you. I am trying to develope a new look for my blog, but, it will be quit some while to it.

For now, what you could do is this -

1) go to my place at www.livinglikeadeadman.blogspot.com

2) once there, you will be greeted by my opening page which at the bottom you will see these words - POST PAST ME EXITS RANTS. Click on the post sign it will bring you to my entries.

3) There you would see the latest of my entries. If you wish, click on the PAST sign, it will bring you to my previous entry.

4) To post comments, just click the COMMENTS sig at the bottom of every entries.

5) NOTE: To scroll down, just drag the up and down arrows at the right of the frame of my entry, you could also use the scroll function of your mouse, but make sure the pointer is in the box.

Again forgive me for the trouble I have caused.

John said...

Really enjoying your blog a great deal! Thank you!

Kak Elle said...

kak teh I know who to look for next time if I fall ill:)
Indeed a good deed done to help cheer a friend.

Kak Teh said...

demonsinme, thanks for the guide. I will try again though I dont know whether I am clever enough to understand your poems. too deep for me. But i will try.

John, thank you.

Kak Elle, kak elle tak sakit pun I boleh tolong masak. No problem at all. We must make a date, okay?

Ely said...

beautiful KT...beautiful.

i have finally come after so long...but i have forgotten u not!


Judy said...

KakTeh, you, A, E & S are very blessed to have each other. Not many friends would spare the time and effort these days.

We were supposed to go to Paris this summer but so much has happened with my children that we had to cancel our trip. I hope I can still make it for 1st September.

God bless you and your friends.

Kak Teh said...

ely, thank you. I hope you are coping and also, I think congratulations are in order! Well done! and one day, things will work out for you.

Judy, my heart goes out to you. Yes, lets meet on 1st September. We'll have lots to talk about.


What a lovely journey, Ah. Reading this posting is good therapy, brought me back to places I've been.
Btw, is one of your girls here in Malaysia for holiday?

Kak Teh said...

yes rocky, those days of following the pm around in paris. yes, daughter number two is there. most days you can find her sketching at klcc - its her haunt.

Pi Bani said...

Mee bandung, mee hailam and bubur pulut hitam? You ni gi Paris ke gi Parit, Kak Teh? :)

Tak pernah lagi sampai Europe, but my niece now studying in Nice (sebutan dua2 sama tak?)

Kak Teh said...

pi bani - memang, kalau tak tengok ke luar tingkap, memang ingat dok di Parit and bukan Paris.
Yes, Niece and Nice tu sama bunyinya. Its nice that your niece is in Nice, dengar kata cuaca di sana nice.

Raden Galoh said...

KakTeh...You definitely one darling friend...sanggup datang dari jauh, semata2 nak bersama teman yang memerlukan...saya terharulah kak...masak lagi tu...if saya memang speedy recovery lah jwbnya...tp tentu sedih kan masa nak depart...

God bless you kak for having a good heart...

Mior Azhar said...

Kak Teh,
So yummy. Lapar la pulak reading this entry -but is still vintage Kak Teh.

Kak Teh said...

raden galoh, masa kita sihat dan masih ada tenaga bolehlah kita tolong sikit-sikit. Alhamdulillah. Bukannya apapun. Its the laughter and the friendship that make a difference.

Meor, thanks. am sure you can get better mee bandung where you are!

Blabarella said...

When will I reach Paris? Recent trips to London were always supposed to include it, but somehow in the end, we always struck Paris off, either through lack of time, bad last minute planning (which would make the trip to costly) or obviously, lack of $$ after splurging everything in London! Must do better next time!

How are you KT? I'm finally back in Cairo & blogging again after more than a month. Please convey my warmest regards to AG - he was sweet to pop over to my blog and leave a comment on one of the posts I wrote about Tigger! :)

Manal said...

kak teh,

Paris is the second city in the EU continent that has acknowledged me as "a local" besides london.
Did u manage to visit our malaysian embassy too?
U r the epitome of: 'a friend in need is a friend indeed'.

Jane Sunshine said...

That is the sweetest, nicest thing to do, my friend. Plus, mee bandung. Yummmm...is this where I book the rent-a-chef svs? He he he.

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Kak Teh
You're a friend with a good heart. I hope your friend is doing well.

p/s I love Paris in any season!

jaflam said...

KT your hospitality has never changed ... always par excellence. But now I know it’s not only at your home but .... you did it in Paris ... to cheer up a friend.

Isn't it lovely ... isn't it beautiful...

Kak Teh said...

blabs, you shd have tried Paris when there were just the two of you. But never mind, three can be romantic as well!! I have conveyed the message to the other half.

manal, i didnt visit the embassy as we went during the weekend. but in september will be going again. But worklah!

jane, yes, you can call to book the chef. I am serious and tell M he can be my assistant!

Kak Teh said...

Fauziah, she is coping and it helps that she has a very good support system, husband and in laws. Alhamdulillah.

jaflam, you know, it took me sometime to figure out who jaflam is. Silly me!!! Now i know!!!! when you came to my house, it was in a shambles. I remember the unfinished flooboards etc. Aiyaaa, so embarassing.

svllee said...

Hey, kak, I have the same photo you took of Pont D'Alma, from the same-ish vantage point, but without the little white car. Ah Paris...nice!

UglyButAdorable said...

waaa..kak teh nanti next time balik kitaorg pot luck dessert laaa....kak teh buat main course....mesti sedapp..

LifeBloom said...

K Teh - you're a gem...kalau I sakit and sesat kat UK - will you come and make me that delectable mee bandung.....:-))

zabs said...

Salam Kak Teh,
Semasa di UK dulu tak sampai ke Paris ni. Masa training dulu pun belayar ikut laut keliling laut Mediterranean, tapi naik darat di pelabuhan2 saja. What ever it is you are doing, janji enjoy Kak Teh. Baru2 ni ada tengok di tv, tentang pakcik2 sailors, sempena nak merdeka. Kak Teh takda program dengan mereka ke?

Kak Teh said...

steven, i always visit the place whenever i am in paris. sadly my message had faded. hope to see you soon.

uBa, okay you bawa dessert. sadly mee bandung is the only one i can confidently make. yang lain to touch and go. hehe!
remember that birthday party? You all brought most of the food! thanks - will never forget that.

Kak Teh said...

lifebloom, jangan minta sakit..but yes, will gladly cook. Actually i have learnt to like cooking. Dulu langsung tak nak masuk dapur!.

Zab, I was there during the filming of the pak ciks. In fact I have already done my news version on the other channel. A longer featurish piece will come soon.

madame blossom said...

u're so lucky to be able to travel a lot :) alhamdulillah.

Kak Teh said...

madame blossom, well, it gets a bit tiring after some time. Am off to edinburgh tomorrow and am already feeling tired.

Berisman said...

Your posting reminds me when Awang Goneng took me to the 9th floor of Arab building for coffee a few years ago.
Selamat Berpuasa and my salam to you and my dear friend Awang Goneng:-)


Kak Teh said...

Pak Adib selamat berpuasa to you too.Insyaallah we meet in december.