Sunday was my father’s birthday. He doesn’t visit me in Paris very often, but he did, a few years ago, for two very rainy weeks in May. While we unfortunately spent much of our time watching Breaking Bad and waiting for the rainclouds to clear, we did have a few opportunities for the sorts of long walks that we both like.
That said, we weren’t always in agreement about how these walks should go.
I like meandering walks, the ones where you don’t really know where you’re going, or, even, where you are. (I’m famous for my lacking sense of direction.) My father, on the other hand, just wants to be somewhere beautiful. All the time. And instantly.
I remember one walk in particular, when we’d departed from my home in the far-flung 15th and were slowly but surely making our way up the admittedly plain rue de Vaugirard towards the city center. After twenty minutes, he began to get a bit… agitated.
“This is boring,” he said. I felt like I was dealing with a child. “This is ugly.”
We were standing in front of what was then the headquarters for the UMP — Sarkozy’s political party. It’s a modern building with a glass front. It’s not necessarily ugly, but it’s definitely not Haussmanien.
After a bit of digging — “What would you like to see? Where would you like to be?”, I decided to take him to the 7th, where we sat at the Champ de Mars café, overlooking the intersection of avenue Rapp and avenue de la Bourdonnais.
His relief was palpable, as he reached for a sketchbook and a pencil, began drawing intersecting lines and explaining, for perhaps the hundredth time since I was five, the theory of the vanishing point.
His mood had changed in an instant, just because his surroundings were beautiful.
I’m not like my father. I can be nearly anywhere and be fine; I can appreciate beauty, sure, but being somewhere beautiful doesn’t cause my mood to change so instantaneously. I don’t know if that’s a strength or a weakness.
Roasted Whole Carrots and Crispy Spiced Chickpeas (serves 2)
8 carrots, whole, greens trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
cilantro, for garnish
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In one pan, toss seven of the carrots with one teaspoon of the olive oil, and season with salt. In another pan, toss the chickpeas with the spices, the other teaspoon of olive oil, and a bit of salt. Place both pans into the oven and roast for 25 minutes, tossing as needed to cook evenly.
Use a peeler to shave the last carrot into thin ribbons. Place in a dish. Thinly slice the shallot and add it to the carrots. Heat the cider vinegar in a saucepan until warm but not boiling, and add the honey. Whisk to combine, and pour this mixture over the vegetables.
When the carrots and chickpeas are cooked, remove them from the oven. Halve the carrots lengthwise and arrange on a plate with the chickpeas. Top with some of the quick-pickled vegetables. Garnish with cilantro and serve.