Aurélie and I get dates, names, and politics mixed up while eating Mexican food in Paris.  An exercise in why you shouldn’t interview your friends halfway through a pitcher of margaritas…

Kimberly: Where are we?

Aurélie: I’ve never actually known the name of this restaurant.   It’s the Mexican place around the corner.

Kimberly: It’s the Mexican place around the corner, yes, but I think it’s also called Le Huitzilin.

Aurélie: Yep.

Kimberly: Which means?

Aurélie: The hummingbird.

Huitzilin logo

Kimberly: The hummingbird, exactly.  And how did you discover this place?

Aurélie [Blushing, grinning]: By Kim, by you.

Kimberly: By me!  Can you remember your first time here?  I’m going to refill your margarita glass…

Aurélie: No, I mix up all the times we’ve been here, I’ve condensed them all into one.

Kimberly: Why do you say that?

Aurélie [Laughing]: Well…because of all the margarita vapors, everything is mixed up in my head… You brought me here for the first time a year and a half ago, two years ago?

Kimberly: A year and a half ago, I think.

Aurélie: And I think we wanted to come here just the two of us and then…

Kimberly: No, I think the first time we came, it was with Antoine, and with someone else, I can’t remember…

Aurélie: G.  There wasn’t anybody else.  Remember, it was that night at your place…

Kimberly: Ah right, G., her boyfriend, she was pregnant at the time.  And who else, that guy, Didier..

Aurélie [Laughing]: Damien…I don’t know who Didier is.

Kimberly: And what’s-his-name, that guy…

Aurélie: Antoine..

Kimberly: No, no, no, his last name is [redacted].

Aurélie: No, Didi wasn’t there that night…see, you’ve got everything mixed up as well!

Kimberly: Yeah, yeah, I’m all mixed up.

Aurélie: Majda came with Didi one time, but that was another time.  No, the first time, we were a small group, we had a drink at yours before and then ended up at yours after completely drunk.   

Kimberly: Right.  What do you like to order here?

Aurélie [Laughing]: A pitcher of margaritas. 

Kimberly: And what do you eat?

Aurélie: They have great guacamole, which is so, so good, and all of their dishes are good, but the one I adore, I can’t remember it’s name in Spanish, but it’s got marinated pork, avocados, black beans.  It’s delicious, it melts in your mouth.   

Huitzilin Tortillas

Kimberly: And why here instead of other places?  Why don’t we go out more to French bistros?

Aurélie: Because this is right around the corner, it’s so good, we like it, everything is fresh, all the ingredients are fresh, and for us it’s a little bit exotic.  The servers are super nice, they speak Spanish, they help us “travel around the world” a bit.  And it’s not too expensive.  And it’s right down the street.  

Kimberly: It’s right across the street from my apartment.

Aurélie: It’s not too busy, so we feel a bit “exclusive”.

Kimberly: It’s simple, it’s cool, it’s laid-back.  [Going off on a completely different tangent] Because since I’ve known you…you’re a communist…

Aurélie: No.  

Kimberly: You’re no longer a communist?

Aurélie: It’s my parents who are like that…

Kimberly: Your parents are communists but, still, you’re pretty far to the left…

Aurélie [Annoyed]:  Yeah, yeah…

Kimberly: So expensive places, super chic places…

Aurélie: Well, it has nothing to do with my politics.  It’s because I grew up in this neighborhood.  Actually, it’s because I grew up here and that this is sort of my neighborhood that it makes me happy to discover a place that I didn’t know before.  Really, it’s like the kind of ambiance I knew growing up.  It’s working-class, it’s a bit like a village here, you run into people whom you haven’t seen in ten years.  

Kimberly: About that, can you tell us a little bit about what happened tonight?  

Aurélie: Well, we were sitting outside and after about two minutes, a guy I had been to high school with walked past, but…There you go, it’s almost like the neighborhood watering-hole here, but it’s better, it’s a bit more exotic.  

Kimberly [Getting ready to sound confused and tipsy]: Yes, it’s global here.  It’s Mexican food and… you are a Frenchwoman par excellence, but you’re not a chauvinist.  

Aurélie: I like to travel.

Huitzilin Vegetarian Tacos

Kimberly: You like to travel.  What else did I want to say…

Aurélie: Really, it’s just simple here.  

Kimberly: It’s simple, there are good things that you don’t necessarily find elsewhere.  

Aurélie: No, exactly, we eat well here.  It’s the first time I’ve had such good Mexican food. I’ve never been to Mexico, but in any case [Inaudible]…

Kimberly: When you go out with friends, what do you look for?  Is there a certain budget you stick to?

Aurélie: Now that we’re older, we don’t care as much about the price because we all live a little better, we have a little more money, you know.  What we really like is conviviality, a friendly place where everyone feels relaxed, where people are nice, where we can eat well, so the food has to be good, the quality has to be good.  After, of course, we don’t want to pay too much.  But since we’ve grown up, we all spend a little bit more.   

Kimberly: This is my last question.  You, you are the first real Parisian I’ve ever met because you were actually born in Paris.   

Aurélie: Yeah.

Kimberly: And you grew up in Paris.

Aurélie: Mhm.

Kimberly: Now you live in Lyon, but you’ll always be a Parisian.

Aurélie: Of course. Most importantly, I’m from the 20th!

Huitzilin exterior

Kimberly: You come from the 20th, so it’s not the “Eiffel Tower” part of Paris, it’s working-class Paris…

Aurélie: Yeah, even though it’s changing…it’s still a small village…

Kimberly: What should those who come to Paris, if you had to give them two or three ideas, what should they do, see, eat…

Aurélie: Gotta get off the beaten path, try and go to all the places where there are no tourists, get away from touristy restaurants where you won’t eat well…OK, on the menu, what’s written, it sounds good, but in the end, the products aren’t good.  You have to find small places where everything is fresh, even if they’re not popular…the moment when everything is fresh…

Kimberly: If you go to a restaurant where they have snails and onion soup, all that kind of stuff, would you eat there?  

Aurélie: It depends on the quality of the products.  But sure, I like onion soup, I like snails, but before I went in, I’d go, What is this tourist trap?  I would need to have a look behind the scenes.  But then, there are some places like that, others which are really good.  But often, there are a lot of restaurants around Paris that aren’t good, they have cheap food to lure in tourists, like in any touristy place…

Kimberly [Very drunk]: Paris is….

Aurélie [Smiles and pauses]: Um, it’s not easy to define in one word, really….

Kimberly: OK.  France is…

Aurélie [Laughing]: Same thing.  And, on top of it all, I’m not a chauvinist, so I find questions like that annoying.  It depends on the people…

Kimberly: It really depends on the people, yeah.

Aurélie: So, everyone has his or her definition, you know.  In any case, me, I don’t have a definition…  

Kimberly: Alright then…

Aurélie [Laughing]: I knew you were going to ask me questions like that and that I wouldn’t know what to say…  

Kimberly [Laughing]: It’s perfect like that.  

This interview was translated from French to English.  

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