Walking on the cobbled streets of Place Monge remains one of my best kept memories of Paris. Situated in the 5th arrondissement, I remember the clear silence that permeates the square and the whistling of leaves, urging me to discover their centuries old secret. My uncle has been raving to me about the crepe in Rue Mouffetard but in my head, I couldn’t picture crepe being anything else but crepe. What is so special about it?
Following the quickened pace of my uncle, we stroll down the usually clamorous street that is clogged by university students. Today, it lacks human traffic. A few people are idly strolling and while I struggle to find out where the first great Parisian University, the Sorbonne is at, my uncle tugged me into an unsuspecting café. The shop has tables and chairs that seem to belong to Goldlilocks and the three bears. Not more than 200 square feet, tables and chairs are clumsily squeezed together while the owner, an Argentinian speaks to us in rapid French for our orders. Squeezed between the table and the wall, I nod multiple yeses to the unintelligible words exchanged between them.
I look down from the right side of the table and there, the chef works the heated pan with the mix that would soon be in my stomach. Next to our table are three young men – reeking of every possible nuance that signifies their status as university students. All looking weary and pale, one of them has glasses smeared with fingerprints; he speaks languidly, without a care in the world but with the emphasis of politician. I wonder if they studied humanities or law but all these fade into nothingness as the crepes are served to us.
The first taste is delectable. Brandished with cinnamon and a sunny side-up egg, it tasted of the incoming summer and salty wind – melting between my teeth is a soft and yet crunchy taste of thin pancake. I understand my uncle’s obsession now. There is no existence of such crepe in Asia and I spend the next 10 minutes savoring every mouthful of it while the chef works on our second crepes. The second crepe is sweeter, with a spoonful of Nutella – every girl’s favorite – and the same mix of softness and crunchiness invaded my mouth. The French really have a way with their crepes. Even now, i am occasionally assaulted with the taste and whiff of steaming crepe, a remnant of my memory and heightened by my imagination.
Place Monge will always remind me of this quaint café that serves crepes at 4.80€ per set. Nestled in the middle of Rue Mouttefard and hidden by the more vibrant shops – I won’t be surprised if this is a definite favorite of university students during their weeknights.