Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bibliophilia


While prepping for the class I'm teaching next week, I thought it would be helpful to students to have access to some tangible vegetarian-oriented resources. Over the years, I've collected scads of books on vegan food, animal rights, veg travel, etc.--though I've given most away, so it's no longer the carefully curated "vegan library" I once possessed. Thankfully, my friend Mary Margaret, who is the food editor at Vegetarian Times, recently gave me a gazillion veg cookbooks she was ready to part with. I'm thinking I'll loan those to whoever is interested, or simply let them leaf through the stack after class.

I thought it also might be helpful to tout our local bibliotheques (aka libraries), so students know that we have a cool, diverse, polylingual resource at our disposal as Paris residents--and it's free! This past Wednesday, I pedaled up to the Bibliotheque Batignolles and went on the prowl for books with a veg focus, and found three; two cookbooks (one of which I brought home) and one guide: Paris Vegetarien.

When this pocket-size, 110-page paperback came out last year, I was kind of bummed; I'd been working on a vegan Paris guide of my own and even pitched the book's publishers, Parigramme, a similar title. (No response, and no surprise. Non-response-as-NO is how the French roll.) But when I saw it sitting on the library shelf, shiny and new and barely touched (if ever), I tossed my resentment and that smidgen of jealousy to the wayside and carried it to the counter.

What a great book--even if I didn't get to write it!
In bed later that night, surrounded by reading material and one interested little dog, I leafed through the book expecting nothing new and was pleasantly surprised. Inside were indeed oodles of places I was utterly and completely familiar with, but there were also a solid handful of listings that were totally not familiar, and therefore totally exciting. And good timing, too; ever since finding a breathmint (not mine) in the spinach curry at my favorite Sunday lunch spot, I've been looking for new restaurants to try.

With Paris Vegetarien, I've got some good weekend possibilities lined up. For instance, Mille et Une Beautes. If the place sounds/looks like a beauty salon, that's because it is. A beauty salon that serves vegetarian lunch! Weird, right? But wait! There's another retail/resto melange serving veg fare: Carmen Ragosta. It's a clothing boutique-slash-Italian restaurant. Brilliant mix. (Only it's probably best to try on clothes before trying out the pasta.)

The most exciting entries I discovered might be the bits focused on the Paris suburb of Montreuil; apparently, there's a vegan boulanger at the Wednesday market there, and at Casa Poblano, a non-profit arts association, there's a little cafe serving veg (and non-veg) food that's run by our old friend Falko. Falko was the guy behind Oscar Cafe, the Tuesday night vegan supper club we looked forward to each week when we lived in Paris back in 2004-2005.

Writers aren't thanked enough for the good work they do (IMOHO), so this is my thank-you to Alcyone Wemaere, wherever you are, for researching and writing a useful guide for novices and experienced vegan Parisians alike. To quote the title of one of my vegan cookbooks, "I am grateful"!

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