My Dinner Chez Monsieur Paul
An Essayby Sylvie Bigar
I hadn’t visited Lyon for more than twenty years, having moved from Europe to New York and started a family, but on this trip I was returning to report for Food Arts on the young hot chefs who’d recently made the city sizzle. I grew up in Geneva, but my grandmother Madeleine was born in Lyon, and throughout my childhood, my father kept an office there. Every Thursday, after visiting what he, and generations before him, called the “capital of gastronomy,” he’d bring back the same fluid fromage blanc en faisselle, one of Lyon’s specialties, which my three sisters and I would lap slowly, fighting endlessly over whether it was better with or without sugar. The Lyon I returned to had cleaned up nicely, shedding its provincial veil of grit and crime and acquiring a polished persona. My father had recently passed away, and perhaps, I thought, I could recapture a piece of his spirit in this city he had known so well. I strolled through Renaissance-era quarters, soaking in their soft coral glow, and peeked into age-old artisanal ateliers, searching for a glimpse of him.