Last week I had to have a root canal. The night before, I went online to check out a couple of books from the library, and remembered those Paris titles. I was too lazy to actually get out of bed and find the piece of paper in my purse all the way on the other side of the room, so I mostly searched for books with Paris in the title. I found Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes and recognized it from the B&N table, even though I don't think it was one of the titles I wrote down. I downloaded it with plans to spend the next afternoon happily reading after my trip to the dentist.
There's something you have to know. Dental anesthesia doesn't work for me. I've had cavities filled, and a couple of teeth pulled, and while the outside of my face will get annoyingly numb, the inside of the tooth, the nerve, my jaw have no numbness at all, and I feel every bit of the procedure. My new dentist was dismissive of my warning (probably only one step away from using the words "hysterical girl") and assured me the endodontist was a master with anesthesia.
I didn't believe this, mind you, but I allowed myself to be hopeful that it wouldn't be much worse than a filling. As I settled into the chair before my root canal, I repeated this warning for the endodontist and his assistant. He wasn't nearly as dismissive as the dentist, but he was confident he would be able to achieve full numbness for me. He was wrong. And I can now assure you that a root canal essentially without anesthesia is much worse than a filling. It is worse than 27 hours of labor. It is no good at all.
The endodontist was great. He was very nice throughout the entire two and a half hours it took to complete the root canal. He even found the fourth canal which is tricky. And he probably apologized at least 84 times, both horrified and fascinated by my lack of numbness. I have now become his special story "there has only been ONE patient in my whole career whom I could not anesthetize" for dental cocktail parties or nervous patients. I may take small solace in that - once the pain of the root canal fades away.
When I finally arrived home that afternoon, I was in much pain and didn't want the noise of the television. I was also quite hungry, but completely unable to chew. It was then I picked up Lunch In Paris to try to distract my mind. Probably not smart timing, it being a book with both lunch and recipes in the title, but I was thinking of it as a light Parisian romance.
Lunch In Paris is a memoir about Elizabeth Bard's marriage and life in France - but really it is a cookbook and an accounting of every amazing meal she has eaten. In an early chapter she describes a pavé au poivre:
"It was not a particularly impressive plate - a hunk of meat, fat fried potatoes piled carelessly to one side. But something happened as I sliced the first bite - no resistance, none at all. The knife slid through the meat; the thinnest layer of crusty brown opening to reveal a pulpy red heart. I watched as the pink juices puddled into the buttery pepper sauce...I must have uttered an audible gasp of pleasure"I took four ibuprofen and a nap after reading that chapter, and I dreamed about that steak. And then I continued to dream about that steak for the rest of the week while I was unable to chew and only eating Kraft Mac & Cheese.
While this isn't the most inspiring memoir I've ever read (and my favorite memoir of an American woman moving to France will always be A Lady In France) it is enjoyable and full of some of the best food descriptions I've ever read. And even though I know it won't happen, Bard makes me want to go into a kitchen and try to cook with her recipes. That's worth something. Just don't try to read it after a major dental procedure like I did.