February 16, 2009
Three weeks ago I was in Paris, and I went to the tea rooms of the Grand Mosque. There in an outdoor courtyard were blue tiled tables. There were sparrows at the feet of these tables, and when we sat at one a waiter gave us mint tea - not the clean, head-clearing mint tea I drink at home, but a thicker, sweeter version made with green tea, sugar and fresh mint. We ordered pastries from the counter - pistachio and almond flavoured sweets, and baklava. There was a hammam and a shop where we bought the soap used in the hammam, and a box of rose tea from Damascus. The sparrows flew to our table as we stood up to leave.
Another day in Paris, my friend took us to Les Doigts de Fée, a patisserie selling Arabic sweets near her home in the 20th. Here we ate hazelnut and sesame pastries, but there were also marzipan fruits, flaky almond biscuits, semolina cakes and filo pastries.
And more sweet mint tea - from a silver teapot on a silver tray.
Grande Mosquée de Paris
39 rue Geoffrey-Saint-Hilaire, Paris
9am - 11.30pm daily
Les Doigts de Fée
356 Rue des Pyrénées, Paris
Metro stop: Pyrénées