The Best Thing I’ve Eaten in Paris Thus Far

Oct 7, 2014 by

          Before coming to Paris, I decided I’d live my first week here in vacation mode, meaning no working out and no food restrictions. However, because I’m in Europe for a total of 82 days, followed by New York for however long I can financially support myself, I can’t reside in vacation mode for my entire trip. While telling my health standards to ef off sounds great in theory, I know that wouldn’t make me happy in practice. Having said that, I definitely need to ease up on myself to allow room to experience.

          First, let’s address physical fitness. At home, I have a gym membership. While travelling, that’s impractical. I won’t be in any one place long enough to commit to a membership term. Nonetheless, it’s important to me that I continue to work out. It took effort to get into the habit, and I don’t want to lose too much strength and endurance while travelling. Without weights and with limited space, I may not be able to work out to the same degree, but there are exercises I can do using my own bodyweight. With regard to cardio, I simply have to substitute the elliptical. Yesterday I tried a zumba video that was boring and didn’t make me sweat, but today I found a fun Gatsby-inspired dance workout! Multiply it by three, and I guarantee sweat! Although I’m aiming to continue working out five days weekly while abroad, I’m accepting now that I will be inconsistent due to travel, and I’m also deciding that it’s acceptable to skip workouts when I first arrive in a new place or if I’m only in a city for a short duration.

          Second, let’s talk food. At home, I only allow myself one junk food item (recall that a restaurant or event qualifies as one “item,” thereby allowing me to eat whatever I want within the grounds of that restaurant or event #loophole) per week. I am not restricting myself to that limit while travelling. Exploring new foods is one of the primary reasons behind my love of travel. Since vacation mode ended yesterday, to avoid feeling restricted, I need to let myself experiment within moderation, as opposed to abiding by a strict, pre-determined number of junk items per week. Being an all-or-nothing thinker, I don’t have a good grasp of the concept of moderation. In my mind, either I’m healthy or I’m not. While abroad, there needs to be some sort of in-between perspective, so I can eat healthily without missing out on my must-try foods. To me, not eating Europe’s food would feel like not being in Europe at all. So, I’m giving myself permission to try the standout foods and restaurants I want to try in each city, even if they wouldn’t fall within my health standards at home; but, I’m not going to eat mediocre unhealthy foods just because they’re there, like I would in vacation mode.

Chez H’anna, L’As du Fallafel’s better-tasting rival (see correction below)

Chez H’anna, L’As du Fallafel’s better-tasting rival (see correction below)

          Now that I’ve thoroughly justified my adaptations to my health regime while travelling – more to myself than to you – let me introduce the purpose of this post, the best thing I’ve eaten in Paris thus far: falafel! Yes, that’s right; falafel in a pita is the best thing I’ve eaten in the land of cheese, pastries, and all food French. It took me two days to convince myself that it was okay to eat it in the name of travel experience (hence the extensive paragraphs above about how I’m going to approach healthy living while abroad), but I went for it! It was ordered from a little place on Rue des Rosiers called L’As du Fallafel, located a ten-minute walk from my apartment (because what amazing food establishment isn’t walking distance from my apartment? #loveLeMarais). I noticed it immediately upon first walking through my area last week. With the seemingly permanent line outside its window and the trails of people with pitas throughout its nearby streets, it’s impossible to miss. At first sighting, I brushed the idea of Parisian-made falafel off, assuming the place was catered to tourists, because why would Parisians opt for falafel over their own fantastic foods? (I’m clearly not a falafel fan.) However, as I passed the line each night on my way home, my intrigue grew. Those were definitely locals eating those pitas, and they were in the outdoor line regardless of time or weather.

          Of course, once vacation mode ended, I finally decided that I wanted in on these popular pitas. To determine whether or not eating one would be against my health rules, I tried searching for the menu online to find out what’s in them, hoping the falafel was untraditionally grilled instead of fried (which is def not the case, FYI). All I had to do was type “falafel Paris” into Google to see L’As du Fallafel pop up – and a New York Times article featuring it! Done. Guilt: abolished. The Happiness Experiment ruled it edible, because I am travelling and it makes me happy to experience world-renowned foods while travelling. It. Was. Fucking. Phenomenal! It surpassed all macarons I ate last week – a very serious statement, friends; falafel isn’t even in the same food category as macarons. Moral of the story: Do not inflict your home life on your travel life. When in Paris, eat falafel.

Happiness Tip: Where there is a line, eat!




Correction (October 14, 2014): I went to the wrong famous falafel place last week! Everything I said above, except for the part about the New York Times article, was about Chez H’anna – not L’As du Fallafel. (I was wondering why the receipt said Chez H’anna, but guessed that L’As du Fallafel was one of those sketch places where receipts don’t match the name.) How did I go wrong? I followed the closest line from Rue Vieille du Temple, which unknowingly led me to Chez H’anna, L’As du Fallafel’s rival located on the same street. Of course, I had to go back to Rue des Rosiers to try L’As du Fallafel, pictured below. Chez H’anna was better.


The real L’As du Fallafel

The real L’As du Fallafel

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