Day 5 Bouillabaisse

One of Marseille’s signature dishes is bouillabaisse, a bunch of us decided we needed to try it. Armed with a reservation at what was recommended by the hotel as a good place for bouillabaisse we headed off after the conference, which happened to be the rush hour in Marseille. It really didn’t matter because the metro had plenty of capacity, but there were more people, and there was a lot more security.

One thing I never get used to is automatic weapons in airports. I don’t know if you travel much but lately in US airports there are a lot more machine gun toting security guards. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind them there, I just can’t get used to them.

In Europe these security guards are pretty much everywhere. At rush hour on the metro there were two rows of them watching everyone coming down the stairs and into the station. We had to wait because one of our party had trouble with her ticket. While I waited I noticed something odd. The first row of security was unarmed, the SECOND row of security had automatic weapons. My question was, what was the first row for, to slow down the bad guys?

We got to the restaurant and sat down outside overlooking the old harbor. It was a beautiful night, and a beautiful setting.

Since we were on a bouillabaisse mission, let me describe bouillabaisse. It’s fish soup. Yup, fish soup, good fish soup mind you, but fish soup all the same. So it came as a bit of a surprise that this was going to cost more than any meal on the whole trip. I think of the 5 of us, 4 had the soup. I really liked it. With a curry-like stock and three kinds of fish it was what you would expect a fishing city’s people to make when times were tough. I find it interesting that time and time again, local “poor food” becomes the expensive tourist cuisine.

This restaurant was also where we learned never to ask a French waiter to hurry with the check. We said one of our party had to catch the bus so would you please bring the check. It took a good forty minutes! I like that they don’t hurry you out, but when you have to make a bus you’d think they would accommodate you. In the end we had to use the metro and a taxi because we did miss the last bus. It was no big deal but it was an important lesson in French behavior. I wonder if the restaurants have a deal with the taxis.

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