Saturday, May 16, 2009

Geneva Food Coma


Back to the summer of 1990, between my sophomore and junior years of college. I was working at the 9-G Diner (see post, here) and was also wrapping up some Human Biology coursework at a local community college—the credits would transfer over to fulfill the rest of the "interdisciplinary" requirements I needed in my own school's science department. I thought that the community college's biology class was more appealing, and hoped also that it would be easier to complete, than the offerings during the regular school year. This was pretty much confirmed, though I did have a lot of studying to do regardless. But the class was coming to an end, and as the summer ground down also, I found myself with a bit more time on my hands. Which is when a spontaneous opportunity arose: my parents were on their way to Geneva, Switzerland, for a few days, and they asked if I wanted to join them, on their dime. Of course I did. I remember asking N. and R., the owners of the diner, whether I could take the following weekend off, and I explained the chance I had to travel. I felt a bit embarrassed asking—after all, who would airlift them out of their daily routine for a spur-of-the-moment trip to Europe?—but I didn't let that stop me, of course. I was giving them some notice, and they seemed more excited for me than irritated, which is to say that they didn't seem irritated at all. So, I went. My parents and I took an overnight (short night) flight from New York to Geneva. We arrived in the morning, which is a flight pattern I don't really like much, because then you're really tired, short on sleep, and have to confront an entire day ahead of you, hoping to get on local time. We were relieved when midday rolled around, and we could easily pass some time on a meal. For lunch, my father led us to a restaurant that we have always referred to simply as "Entrecôte." There are, however, a few restaurants with variations on that name in Geneva, so I'm not entirely convinced of which one we visited. Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure it was the Swiss outpost of Le Relais de l'Entrecôte, a chain in Paris. In Geneva, the restaurant is located at 49, rue du Rhône; the Web site for all Relais de l'Entrecôte is here). Whether this is the definite location, the experience was as follows: We were seated at a row of tables in the center of the dining room. We ordered—entrecôte steak of course—and all that was left to do was wait for the waitresses, wearing traditional black dresses with white aprons, to come by with their silver platters and serve it up. And did they. The steak was, it must be said, carnivore heaven. Well, maybe not heaven exactly (or maybe it was), but anyway awfully good. The waitresses came by with their dishes of pre-sliced steak—tender, juicy, and cooked perfectly for everyone's taste, because you could select the pieces you wanted from the well-done ends to the "saignant" middle, and they would deftly be served to you, pan juices or sauce ladled on top. Then there were the fries: crisp, perfectly golden, and a slap-in-the-face reminder of how Americans in general have no clue about fries (and I'll take French over the god-awful "freedom" fries any day!). Did I mention that this was a menu "à volonté"? That you could enjoy as many servings as you wished and that the waitresses did not stop circulating to tempt you with more? I am sure that we did not make tourist pigs of ourselves, but we really didn't deny ourselves anything either. We were all quite sated when we left, multiple servings later of steak and fries, plus dessert included in the prix fixe. In fact, we were pretty much in a food coma, a total jet-lagged and meat-and-potato stupor. So, what did we do? Did we walk it all off, enjoying the sights of a new city on our first day there? I am embarrassed to say we did not. We went back to the hotel room—big mistake—and looked over guidebooks, and did so while lying on the bed, and then it was all over. We passed out. Anyway, my mom and I did. My dad took a picture to prove it, before (I think) he joined us in our travel-weary sieste. And what's worse (but makes for a more humorous moment of family legend) . . . I'm not sure what time it was when we woke up—our hopes for being truly on local time may have been shot—but I think it was more or less dinnertime, and I know that, although probably we could easily have skipped it, we went out on the town and, wherever we went (fondue this time?), started all over again. Bon appétit, and santé!

1 comment:

  1. that's EXACTLY how greeks eat!
    after a big meal, we simply need to lie down!

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