Catherine, Carly, and Carly’s visiting parents, Deniese and Alan, join me to discuss La Madonnina, an Italian trattoria and favorite local haunt.  Our musings over tiramisu and French nationality, which take place in a bar across the street, are often interrupted by a confused waiter, my incessant laughter, and the repeated discussion of a certain drink.  I tell my subjects that I will edit the interruptions.  I do not.     

Catherine [Laughing]: …it’s definitely off the beaten path, somewhere you love to go all the time in Paris.

Kimberly: OK, so we’ve started recording…

Catherine [More laughing]: Oh, hello!

[Everyone laughs]

Deniese, Carly’s mother: An Israeli restaurant…

Catherine: Miznon.

Carly [Speaking into the dictaphone]: Go to Miznon.

Kimberly: Alright, good evening, everybody.

Catherine: Oh, it’s evening

[Everyone laughs]

Kimberly [Laughing]: Um, let’s start with Catherine, Catherine where did we eat dinner tonight?

Catherine [Addressing Carly]: I thought it was you starting… So, tonight, we went to La Madonnina.

Madonnina Catherine pepper shaker
Catherine and the largest pepper mill ever made.

Kimberly: And why did we…Carly… [Stops speaking to catch breath from laughing so hard] Carly why did we go there?  

Carly: Well, we went there specifically this evening so that my parents could meet my friends.

Kimberly: Yeah…

Alan, Carly’s father: AT, what Carly says is one of her friends’ favorite restaurants.

Kimberly: Exactly, exactly…

Catherine: Good job.

Deniese: It’s local.

Madonnina cheese ravioli
Ravioli ai quattro formaggi.

Kimberly: It’s a local place.  Can everybody just really quickly share what they ate tonight?  I had four-cheese ravioli.

Catherine: I had something with asparagus.

Carly: She had rigatoni with asparagus and [said in perfect Italian accent] pancetta. Like I did.

Catherine: Right.

Madonnina rigotini
Rigatoni al aspergi e pancetta

Kimberly: Yes?

Alan: I had the lasagna and it was very, very good.

(The waiter arrives with grenadine,  a mix of water and pomegranate-flavored syrup, which no one ordered.  Chaos ensues before Catherine and I explain at the same time that Deniese ordered a Diablo Citron*, which is sparkling water with lemon-flavored syrup.  The waiter apologizes and jogs back to the bar to fix the order.)

Catherine: He made a mistake.

(The waiter returns and begins distributing beers and Perriers.)

Kimberly [Addressing Deniese]: They’re going to bring you your drink after.

(Catherine asks the waiter to only pour a little bit of lemon syrup in the Diablo Citron because Deniese does not like drinks which are too sweet.  The waiter seems slightly confused but complies.)

Kimberly: Ok, that’s all going in the interview.

Catherine [Speaking into the dictaphone]: HELLO.


Carly: Are you uploading this…

Deniese: I’d like to make a pitch for the appetizers which were delicious…the goat’s cheese with the, what is that called?

Kimberly: I think it was burratina, like a stuffed mozzarella?

Deniese: Yes, and the wonderful olives.  And the bruschetta [pronounced one way], the bruschetta [pronounced another way]?   They were all excellent.  Oh, and the greens were a nice balance, too.

Catherine: The arugula.

Kimberly: The arugula, and it came with an artichoke.  

Carly: Yep. And some black olives.

madonnina apetizers
Starting off with Lambrusco, thickly-cut homemade rye, burrata with truffle oil, and arugula salad.

Kimberly: So we all ate well.  

Catherine: As always, at La Madonnina.  

Kimberly: We eat well there every single time.  Can anybody remember our first time there?


Alan [Eyes twinkling with the anticipation of an oncoming Dad Joke]: I can! It was about thirty minutes ago!

[All laugh]

Catherine: I don’t remember the first time you took us there.  

Kimberly: Who discovered this restaurant?

Catherine: Carly. How did Carly discover it?

Carly: Via another friend named Martin. [Speaking into the dictaphone] MARTIN, IF YOU’RE OUT THERE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Catherine: Thank you for listening tonight.  


Carly: Martin (note: My interviewees state Martin’s last name several times, at one point spelling it into the dictaphone for me.  I have, for the sake of Martin’s privacy, decided to redact his last name from this interview.  But I still find Carly and Catherine’s dedication to accuracy in reporting both adorable and hilarious.).  Living in Chicago, foodie, lover of food, a Master’s program buddy, who discovered most of the places we now frequent, including the dumplings place (note: The “Dumplings Place” is the pseudonym for a Chinese dumpling restaurant frequented by most people in this interview on a weekly basis.).  

Kimberly and Catherine: REALLY?!


Catherine: Wow.

Carly: And the Japanese ramen place.

Catherine: Ohhhhhhhhh……(the waiter arrives with the Diablo Citron*) Merci beaucoup.  

Madonnina red wine

Kimberly:  So, we have a considerable amount of memories… (The waiter begins to speak over me as he tallies up how much we owe.  He then announces the price of our drink order.  Everyone immediately begins discussing how to divide the check until we are graciously invited by Carly’s father.  We all say thank you.)

Carly:  They’re just so excited to participate in the interview.  

Catherine [Laughing]: Which is still running…

Kimberly: I can edit, though.

Carly: Wait, are you literally uploading this on…?

Kimberly: No, I’m going to transcribe it (In the background, Catherine explains the Diablo Citron* to Deniese.)

Carly: It’s nice?

Deniese: Yeah!

Carly: I don’t know what this is, it’s like a new discovery for me.

Catherine: It’s like a lemonade, a little bit.

Deniese: There’s syrup at the bottom (Stirs drink and sips).

Kimberly: OK, just because time is ticking away…

Alan [Tasting the Diablo Citron*]: Yeah, that’s good!

Madonnina aperol

Kimberly [Addressing Catherine]: We have a lot of memories in La Madonnina, and one of them was when you got your French nationality.  

Catherine: Yes…

Kimberly: Would you like to share any memories from that night?

Catherine: Well, we went there, it was an Italian restaurant for my French nationality. [Laughing]  Couldn’t have picked it better myself, but I did pick it myself.  Um, no, it was great, it was a warm welcome, there was a great guy who runs the restaurant who was not there tonight, which was actually very sad because he’s just a fabulous owner.  Um, no, it was a lot of fun.

Kimberly: How long have you lived in France?

Catherine: Uh, since 2009.

Kimberly: OK, and what made you decide to apply for French nationality?

Catherine: I was tired of renewing my visa.


Kimberly: YES.  

Catherine: And a lover of the country, of course.  

Kimberly: Of course, of course.  I’m always amazed…you are really good at finding, like, new places to go eat and drink.  

Catherine [Laughing]: I feel like that’s not true, but thank you.

Kimberly: Is it not true?

Catherine: I don’t feel like I pick new places to go drink.

Madonnina main course
Fusilli alla vegetariana

Kimberly: Do you have, like, a website or anything online that you consult to find new places?

Catherine: No.

Kimberly: How do you decide on where to go out in Paris?

Catherine: When I walk around, I sometimes see places and I take pictures of them.  [Addressing Deniese] I hope it is ok, I hope it’s not too sugary.

Deniese: Yeah.

Catherine: Because what you can do next time, I said put less sugar, you can ask for even less sugar if you go out or whatever.

Alan: It’s really good.

Catherine: It’s good, it’s good.

Deniese: What’s it called?

Catherine: It’s a Diablo Citron*.

Carly: Diablo Citron*.  

Catherine: So they gave you like a little soda, a sparkling thing, and then there’s a tiny little bit of syrup in the bottom.

(The waiter comes out to announce that the credit card machine is not working and that he’ll be back with a different machine in a moment.)

Kimberly: So, you were talking about your French nationality. You don’t consult any specific sites or anything like that.

lambrusca wideshot
Suckers for sparkling red wine.

Catherine: No, it’s just sort of what comes to me.

Kimberly [Laughing]: It just comes to you.  Carly, you were saying that you have a friend who has given you a lot of addresses, a lot of places to go in Paris.

Carly [Speaking into the dictaphone]: Yes, thank you, Martin (Last name redacted).  

Kimberly: Can you describe how this happened?  This was your friend in your Master’s Program?

Carly: In my Master’s program. Who is American.  Now who is back in the United States, married to another Master’s Program school mate.  Marcella.

Catherine: What’s her last name?

Carly: (States Marcella’s last name) I don’t know if since then she’s changed her last name.

Kimberly: Right.

Catherine: We’ll have to look that up.  Fact-check it.

Carly: On Facebook, she’s still Marcella (Last name redacted), just so everyone knows (You will never know).  

Catherine: You need to just fact-check that before you publish this (Nope).  


Carly: And Martin was a lover of all types of review websites.  Foursquare was his main website.

Catherine: I don’t really like Foursquare.  

Carly: I hate it as well, I don’t know how he got good stuff on it.  

Catherine: But he did.

Carly: But he did.  He found some gems.  

lambrusca closeup
Tre Medaglie Cavicchio, Lambrusco di Sorbara

Kimberly: Why did you decide on La Madonnina for your parents? Like, this was a special night, your parents meet your close group of friends, why La Madonnina instead of other restaurants?

Carly: Um, it’s about a five minute walk from my apartment.

[Lots of laughing]

Catherine: Deep thought went into this planning process!

Carly: It’s generally really great service, although our favorite waiter/owner, we’re not really sure what he is, was not there tonight.  Great quality food.  Lambrusco, good Italian wine.  Some of which are organic.

Catherine: Homemade pasta.

Carly: Homemade pasta.  If you want some gluten-free options, they have them.  

Madonnina Classic Tiramisu
CLASSIC tiramisu

Alan: Pretty good tiramisu.

Carly: GREAT tiramisu.  

Catherine: Great CLASSIC Tiramisu!

Carly: CLASSIC Tiramisu (Throwing me some shady side-eye).

Kimberly: I would like to go on the record that I had the non-classic Tiramisu, I had pistachio.

Madonnina pistachio tiramisu
Pistachio tiramisu for the more adventurous amongst us.

Carly: AND, it they like you enough, they’ll offer you a small digestif

Kimberly: Of?

Carly: Limoncello

Catherine: Gasoline.


Kimberly: It was kind of gasoline-y tonight, wasn’t it?

Catherine: It was very strong, yes.

Kimberly: OK, last question tonight…

Carly [Laughing]: Well, that’s what digestives are…

Catherine: Sorry…

Kimberly:….because otherwise this interview is going to be really, really long.  Um, people coming to Paris for the first time, what would you recommend, like, one or two things that they do?

Catherine: Rodin museum, because it’s my favorite museum ever and you can have a picnic in the garden amongst the sculptures.  My favorite museum.  Favorite.

Kimberly: I get it.

Catherine: That’s one thing. Favorite, favorite, favorite…

Kimberly [Laughing]: Is it your favorite?

Catherine: Favorite museum.  Carly?

Carly: Um, with caution and great care, bicycle around the city.

[Lots of laughing]

Catherine [Speaking into the dictaphone]: Not near policemen.

Carly [Speaking into the dictaphone]: With caution and great care.  

Kimberly: Can we explain that really quickly?

Catherine: So, a policemen opened his door and I crashed (note: on her bicycle) and I’m still recovering four months later.  [Aside] On we go…

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Kimberly: Cheers!

Catherine [Sighs]: Cheers.

Kimberly: Thank you guys very much.

Catherine: That was it, that’s all we got.

[Carly, Alan, and Deniese discuss Rodin museum in the background]  

*The drink is actually called a Diabolo Citron.  We mispronounced it the entire evening.  Oops.  


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