Mark JohnstonEATING RACLETTE IN PARIS Mark Johnston September 27 France, Travel I was excited to return to Paris for my second visit for the wrong reason. I say wrong because as it turned out the food I was looking forward to enjoying was of Swiss origin. Raclette is a dish indigenous to Switzerland but the name is derived from the French word “racler” which means “to scrape”—so at least I got that part right. It’s a dish that I first tried in London in 2006 when staying with friends Andrew and Nicole Duncan—who put me up again this time around with Britnee. Nicole is French—which is why, for years, I thought it was French food. Originally herdsmen would heat a large wheel of cheese over an open fire and then the melting side was scraped onto various other foods: small potatoes, gherkins, salted meats and more. These days a table-top grill with small pans specifically designed for Raclette is used. Andrew and Nicole had one of these grills that they produced on my last night there in 2006 and the meal turned out to be a memorable social experience that lasted well over an hour. Years after my first and only Raclette experience, I was worried I’d talked it up too much as Britnee and I were seated in one of many restaurants we found serving it in Paris. Was it the food itself or just the great company that had made me enjoy Raclette so much the first time? After all, it was just melted cheese scraped onto salty meats, potatoes… etc, which soon arrived at our table. What was I thinking? It’s cheese! How can you go wrong with plenty of melted, gooey cheese? With a small bottle of white wine between us and plenty of time to chat as our cheese melted in the coupelles trays, it was once again a lovely, satisfying meal. Once our cheese began to bubble, we’d slide out the tray using a rubber handle, tilt it over our food-filled plates and, coaxing it with a fork, cover everything with delicious melted cheese. Following each bite with a small sip of wine was divine and, supposedly, the smart thing to do—some traditions caution that other drinks, including water, might cause the cheese to harden in one’s stomach, leading to indigestion. The waiter had tried to up sell us on buying two separate Raclette servings for 15 Euros each, but one serving was more than enough and we were both content after a good hour in the restaurant. Stepping back outside we talked of other side dishes we could serve then smother with melted cheese in the company of good friends after buying our own Raclette grill at home: asparagus, cherry tomatoes with basil, beef fillet, caramelized pears, figs, pickled onions, more cheese… …and maybe we then talked more about just melting butter in the coupelles trays and dribbling that on everything too!