‘Lateral is good. I’ve not been there. People said so,’ said madam Francoisse at the @hotelsplendidetoile reception today when I asked for recommendations on nearby places to eat. She didn’t think much of the other cafés close by and my prior lunch and dinner experiences on the trip bore this out. She also smiled when I reminded her of her promise to try to get me a room with a view tomorrow. ‘My wife reaches tomorrow.’
I went to Cafe Lateral at night. The streets were still bright at 10pm. There was a nip in the air that I loved.
‘You were meant for the west,’ said K on seeing my pics. ‘You look so happy.’
I told her how my parents had to almost leave me behind in France when I was 6 months old as they had come from Dover to Calais and the authorities wouldn’t let me back as I didn’t have a passport.
That’s when my parents attached my name to my mom’s passport and didn’t end up making a British one for me. Yes, I love the west. And Bandra West!
‘You would have met me in France then. I could have been a football player,’ I told K.
‘I doubt it. I would have met you like this. With a book. In a cafe,’ she replied.
My mom still refers to Western Europe as the ‘continent’ as they did when we were in England in the 70s!
I had a good feeling once I entered the cafe and saw the menu. The use of words like ‘home made’ for the duck foie or ‘in house fried fries’ was reassuring. In the Paris of 2022 versus that of 2017, there’s avocado in every menu. As there was here.
I went for cheeseburger with artisanal bread. Soft buns with seeds. Smoky, firm and yet tender, patty. ‘Unfortunately’ medium done as I hadn’t specified medium rare. But it’s ok. ‘Vegetarian’ is an assumption people make on seeing Indians. If meat eaters, more likely to go for well done than medium rare.
The sauces were given on the side. The burger was just about the bun, the meat, a sliced onion and a dab of elk milk cheese. A lesson to chefs in Mumbai who are adding all sorts of saucy excesses to burgers these days. Making them seem like a flooded Milan subway in the rains.
By the way, I’ve fallen in love with cursive journaling. As I haven’t carried my notebook, I am using a serviette from yesterday’s cafe. Pens borrowed from waiters.
Very struggling writer.