Last Friday Sharon Santoni and I had a marathon lunch chez Ma Cocotte, a sort of secret restaurant that has many qualities to recommend it, for example:
- The location — as some of you may know — is right in the center of the Saint-Ouen flea market.
- The restaurant was designed by Philippe Starck.
- The food is delicious.
- The people watching is fantastic.
- The atmosphere is so charmingly cozy that you want to move right in, as in live there.
- You can have a four hour lunch and no one is asking you to move on.
The next time you’re in Paris, you really should make a reservation to have a meal there. You do need a reservation. Now, my little secret regarding Ma Cocotte: I arrived a few minutes before Sharon and the waiter gave me the menu, completely a la carte. Sharon, as you probably know, is a regular at the marché aux puces (she does tours and helps clients shop the stands), said to me, “Where is the other menu?”
“The other menu?”
“Yes, the one with the formule du jour?”
That’s my secret: Ask for the special menu for the day. In other words, the one with a fixed price formula, not a la carte, which is more expensive.
“Do you think she didn’t give me that menu because I’m an American [you know, my accent. . .]?”
“Could be,” she conceded.
Just remember to ask for the carte du jour, you can always order a la carte if you don’t like what’s on offer, but you might prefer the better priced formula.
Moving along to another secret or two (unless you speak French of course). . .the other meanings of cocotte. Its basic definition is a cooking vessel like the crock pot above, but like so many words in French, cocotte has additional, and in this case, extremely sweet connotations.
A cocotte is the word adults often teach small children for a hen, the coq being the rooster. And better than that, “ma cocotte” also means sweetheart, honey, darling.
You can see how clever it was to combine the many definitions of the word for the name of a restaurant.