Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The First Real Meal I Ate in Europe

In other news, Penn Appetit partnered with Uwishunu to curate a list of choice West Philly food trucks. Check out the post here!

Much has been written about Barcelona, Spain’s second city. It exudes youth, culture, fun and food. I’ve read countless accolades about the city’s tapas bars, sangria and seafood. And then I visited.

Barcelona, at least Barcelona on a budget, translates to a lot of sandwiches, a lot of potato based tapas and a noticeable lack of fruits and vegetables. Tapas felt transitory, more like snacks than meals. I can, however, advocate for the sangria. At the bar I went to on three consecutive nights it was the three euro drink special, and it was good. After five days of ambitious touring, awe inspiring architecture and a sleep schedule that can only be described as nocturnal, my cousin and I left. We hauled our luggage to the crowded train station, grabbed a final hurried meal at a train station cafeteria and boarded a train to a different world.

Four hours and one national border later, we arrived in Toulouse, France’s fourth largest city. With a restorative night of sleep under our belts, we set out to explore.

A quick chat with the British concierge garnered one suggestion: Café Wallace in Place St. George, a short walk from our hotel. We arrived at 11:40 am and were informed that lunch began at 12 and breakfast ended at 11. Oh, Europe. We ordered café au laits and relaxed for the first time in days. Our itinerary was open, our stomachs were empty and we were ready to eat.

A half an hour later our food arrived: a wrap for me and a croque monsieur for my cousin. As I took my first bite, I knew that Toulouse would be different. It would be a place full of gelato, crepes, coffee and friendly people. The wrap was filled with crisp lettuce, grilled chicken and well seasoned dressing. Alongside it sat a salad, the first one I’d eaten in a week, topped with a grainy mustard dressing that felt essentially French. The plate was complete with the addition of a crisp potato cake, the rare potato dish that would have not have benefited from the addition of ketchup. For less than the price of a rushed tapa in Barcelona, I ate a meal in Toulouse, and what a meal it was.

-Abigail Koffler


  1. I am so jealous! I lived in Toulouse last summer, and the food there was so great. Incredible crepes, papillotes, ice cream...ahh, I need to go back.

  2. Abigail, I love your writing style; very tasty...Aunt Lois

  3. Great post...Toulouse sounds tasty. I just got back from a week in Barcelona and I know how that first meal where you sit-down can feel after tapas-tapas-tapas.

    Tip for getting your fruit in Barcelona on a budget...La Boqueria market off La Rambla had tons of vendors with fresh fruit cut-up or juiced ready to go for a euro or two.



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