Learning to use a knife and fork…..

egg_mayonnaise3_5677 The weekend saw us in Paris. We were there to have lunch with our son to celebrate his significant birthday which meant that this was to be an event. Over the previous weeks we had debated as to where would be good to eat, in a large group, on a Saturday lunch time in Paris. The answer we came up with was “nowhere”. Restaurants and brasseries wanted information as to time, numbers and food choices: questions that were too precise for a party such as ours to answer. Saturday lunch time is a bad time to eat in any European city, and Paris is no different. I thought that the old establishment of Chartier would suit admirably. Bouillon Chartier does not take reservations and the food that they serve is simple bistro food. There’s no room for confusion in that equation. The food is not in any way special, but the atmosphere is. It’s worth being there if you’re in Paris for 3 or 4 hours as you will feel that you have been in Paris for those few hours, which with many smarter establishment will not be the case. You will also have a fuller wallet for the professional pickpockets who, unlike the rest of us, do not have the weekend off. They are working flat out and will be grateful of the extra money in your pockets that Chartier did not take.


I had hoped to make a pictorial record of our visit to Chartier with my phone. Even writing those words confuses me so my chances of success were fat and none. Although I have fully embraced digital photography and the software for manipulating these images, when confronted with the camera in a portable phone I am like a drunk eating hot soup with a knife and fork. Because of this ineptitude I am illustrating this post with pictures from my archives, which I created with a camera rather than a telephone, of the style of food that could be enjoyed at this restaurant….although it would have been nice if the restaurant had made the dishes look as good, but that’s not the point of this restaurant. The point is size and noise and serveurs in long aprons under art deco lights reflected in the huge mirrors on the walls. The point is the red and white checked table cloths, simple base metal cutlery, paris goblets, carafes of passable wine, and piles of bread in baskets. The point is that I didn’t take any successful pictures with a telephone. I could have telephoned you and told you all this but I couldn’t show you a single picture…..I could show you several pictures, but I’d prefer to say that someone else took them.



About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2014, Bistro, Cooking, Cuisine bourgeoise, desserts, Digital photography, Eggs, Fish, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Humour, Photography, photography course, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Learning to use a knife and fork…..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    You definitely done a great job with the real camera – I bet you had a lovely meal 😉

  2. Misky says:

    You do make me laugh, Mr Stowell.

  3. marycadogan says:

    Good choice of restaurant Roger. We were there recently and loved every minute. I agree the food is pretty basic but the hustle and bustle of waiters and patrons alike is wonderful.

  4. MELewis says:

    Is that an anchovy sitting on ice cream? I think of myself as an open-minded individual, but there are limits. 😉

  5. sabine says:

    MAybe you had an even better time (i.e. meals that were´t cold until you ate them) not trying to photograph it all (or did you?) – Anyway I envy you for having spent such a wonderful occasion in such a wonderful city! Have a good day!

  6. On my next visit to Paris, I will attempt to visit the restaurant. It sounds and looks wonderful. Thank you for posting.

  7. Wonderful photos, Roger! (The anchovies got me immediately!) Sounds like a great weekend.

  8. ‘when confronted with the camera in a portable phone I am like a drunk eating hot soup with a knife and fork’ – excellent! And I’m glad you focused on the food, family and celebration 🙂

  9. Michelle says:

    “Like a drunk eating hot soup with a knife and fork.” I have got to remember that one. It’s funny, though, sometimes I think I do better with my phone than with my camera. This must be Paris Day. I thought it was “over” Paris (in the sense of liking the countryside more), but I think I may have been mistaken.

  10. I take it you were treated well, Roger? All the talk about Parisians here is how they embody the negative stereotypes of the French.

  11. One of the things I am enjoying the most about France, although we don’t eat in restaurants all that much, is the presentation of food! I don’t think anyone can do this as well as the French! My attempts at picture taking of dishes are unworthy to even be mentioned however. Creme Brule is one of those things that looks as good as it tastes. Really like your new header btw.

  12. Amanda says:

    Stunning. I would never have known the photos were archived 🙂

  13. Your words made me feel like I was in a Paris bistro for a little while. Thanks for that.

  14. Eha says:

    I can but copy ‘pearlsnadprose’ . . . . I also felt the atmosphere, heard the noise, poured from the carafe, dared to laugh loudly and had a thoroughly good time . . . . as it happened lunch just past at home had a French tang to it 😀 !!! Had to laugh . . . .

  15. ChgoJohn says:

    I’ve a smart phone with camera, too, Roger, and I’ve yet to take a good picture with it. I don’t know how others do it so well. Then again, it’s not like I’m a pro with my other camera. 🙂

  16. Haha. Nice pics. I don’t care where they came from!!

  17. Beautiful photos as always

  18. My first reaction was “anchovies and ice cream???” then I looked closer. You were there to eat, not to take photos. I always find it funny to see people photographing their plates rather than eating it whilst it’s hot 😀

  19. John harvey says:

    Mouth watering words. Any veggie options to tempt Heather?

  20. your words (and your photographs, of course) made me wish we would have known about this place last time we were in Paris. It certainly is now on top of our list. Merci.

  21. EllaDee says:

    There was a recent article discussing if recording so much of the now with digital tools is detracting from our authentic experiences. I think I have to say it is. For my first year of blogging I had a Samsung smartphone that took great pictures. My blog(s) teem with them, and yes I took pics of meals before we ate them… and everything else. Then I had to change phones to a model that had an antenna socket but very ordinary camera capabilities. Oh, what a great excuse for freedom.
    I’m glad you got to enjoy your meal.

  22. Glad to hear that I am not alone as I struggle to use a camera phone. I recently bought an i-phone not through any sense of dissatisfaction with my usual cameras but from a deep and growing feeling that it was high time that I was missing out on something and that I “got up to date” and at least mastered basic phone photography as well as all those other things that people never seem to stop doing with their phones. Who knows I might twtter next!;-)

  23. Aren’t archive pictures come handy at some times! Though it requires time for digging. At least you enjoyed being with your family and inhaling the cities atmosphere and charm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.