Thursday, November 17, 2005

Paris Journal: La Mousson

Cambodian food in Paris? Oui!

This wonderful little place, fragrant with the enticing aroma of jasmine rice, was right next to our hotel and provided the perfect break from all that meat and bread and potato and butter. The charming host, with a silk ascot coiled around his neck, shook my hand warmly and guided me from my desired prawns with chili sauce (I was missing spicy food something awful by now) to his suggestion of prawns with Cambodian spice. Of course I assented. No matter what, I knew we'd be getting those juicy European prawns whose heads I so love to suck. Yeah, I hoped for more than three of them, but what can you do. The dish was rich with lemongrass -- called citronella by the host, bringing to mind mosquito-repelling candles -- and the prawns were as succulent as I'd hoped. We also had wonderful steamed shrimp and pork dumplings (which came with a chili paste that we mixed with a soy-based brown sauce) and a coconut milk curry bursting with galangal root.

Dessert was green tea ice cream that was quite different from the Japanese version in that it contained the unmistakable presence of coconut milk. The ice cream was garnished with a delicious not-too-sweet sesame cookie. And we tried a lovely digestif of Chinese rice wine, which I believe is called Mee Ku Lu. It reminded me of grappa (which I actually like).

From this single foray into Cambodian cuisine, I would put it close to the more familiar Thai food that we love so much. And Margy and I would definitely recommend La Mousson to those looking for something a bit different on the Paris dinner trail.

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