Sometimes Food Is All You Need to Travel

A traditional aligot dish served at L’Auberge Aveyronnaise in Paris.

Each weekend, students at NYU Paris travel by train to other parts of France and the rest of Europe. While going to a different region and enjoying local dishes is an unparalleled experience, there are many food adventures to take advantage of in the city itself. This past weekend, my friends and I went to L’Auberge Aveyronnaise on 40 rue Gabriel Lamé to enjoy food from Aveyron a department of the Occitane region of France.

Aveyron holds a special place in my heart. The summer before my junior year of high school, about sixteen classmates and I spent a few weeks living with families in Rodez, a city in Aveyron. One afternoon, we gathered with all the students at the local high school to try aligot, a regional dish consisting of cheese Tomme de Laguiole or Tomme d’Auvergne blended into mashed potatoes, usually served with a Toulouse sausage and a glass of Auvergne red wine. Aligot is typically made in a large pot until it has a elastic consistency proven by the long cheese pull (the words don’t do it justice, it’s a thing to behold) hanging from the wooden spoon used to mix the dish.

I assumed that leaving Rodez meant leaving aligot behind. But I recently discovered that I L’Auberge Aveyronnaise near Paris’s Bercy Village has been serving the traditional dishes of Aveyron since 2004.

The restaurant felt different from the typical Parisian cafe. Instead of small, crowded tables with even smaller chairs facing toward the street, the restaurant had round tables covered in a red and white checkered tablecloths in a cozy atmosphere, filled with families and friends enjoying regional dishes. Framed pictures of Southern France cover the walls, adding to an ambiance of authenticity.

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We rejoiced in the warmth as rain fell outside. My friend Daniela and I ordered traditional aligot, while our friend Michael ordered duck and potatoes. As we waited, a basket of bread arrived with a bottle of red wine.

We could see our aligot being served in the restaurant as the waiter took a wooden spoon mixed in a copper pot. He pulled the spoon out and a giant trail of aligot followed, gently falling onto the plate next to the sausage.

Once it arrived at our table, I felt like I was back in Rodez at that afternoon party. I slowly cut a piece of sausage, swirled it in the aligot and washed down the sausage cocooned in cheese with a swig of red wine.

I felt transported in a way that reminded me that travel is more than physically moving from city to city. Food, an equally effective form of travel, does not require a train ticket or a place to stay; all it requires is good friends and even better ingredients.

At our table for three, the conversation and the wine flowed. The warm regional food was the perfect defense against the colder days creeping into Paris.

Email Hannah Benson at [email protected]

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