Flying Food

At Chez Bebelle, note the three thugs behind me

At Chez Bebelle, note the three thugs behind me

And I don’t mean the meals you are served on an airplane.

It would seem that Seattle’s Pike Street Market does not have a monopoly on flying food; it turns out that Chez Bebelle located in the Narbonne covered market also gets its raw materials through the air.  However, at Chez Bebelle there are no flying fish only beef, horse, and ducks.

We’d gone to the Narbonne covered market when we were here in 2013 and took note of the various, bustling restaurants located within its walls.  But, we had no idea how one went about getting a place at the table, so to speak.  That great mystery was solved when Claire, or maybe Dave, learned that you need to get to the market by 11 a.m. and reserve a seat at the counter.  Easy peasy.  They did it before we arrived and had a great time and we decided to follow both their advice and their footsteps.

Arriving at 10:50, we were plenty early to beat the reservation rush and I asked the lady who took my name if we could have two seats that seemed to be particularly promising in terms of watching the show.  She indicated maybe yes, maybe no  When we returned at noon, my name was on the placemats at the very seats I’d hoped to get.  An excellent beginning for a delightful lunch.

But before going any further, the thug to the right in the group above my shoulder in the photo is Gilles Belzons who is the “boss” of the restaurant.  A former, big name, professional rugby player, he definitely looks more thug than restauranteur with his broken nose, twisted fingers and smushed up ears.  But he is all smiles and efficient business as he handles the lunch rush.

The restaurant is located in the middle of a triangle formed by a beef butcher shop, a horse butcher shop, and a poultry shop.  The menu consists primarily of beef, horse and duck items.  There are other items on the menu, all sourced from the market, but I didn’t see any of them fly so they really don’t count for purposes of this blog post. Plus, could a serving of lemon floating island pudding survive a landing at Chez Bebelle?

There is more seating than what is shown in my photos and Gilles keeps track of it all as well as the many people who come too late to get an initial reservation but who hope to get seated after the first diners finish.  It is sort of extraordinary.

He takes all of the food orders.  When things get rolling, about five minutes after the place opens, he barks out his meat needs via a megaphone to whichever shop has the goods.  (Apparently, Davide is the horse butcher as his name seemed to preceed horse deliveries.) Shortly thereafter, the shopkeeper alerts Gilles that the product is ready for delivery by blowing a whistle.  Gilles turns in the shopkeeper’s direction, holds up his twisted-fingered right hand and, “smack,” product delivered just like a fast strike into a catcher’s mitt.  The packet of meat goes into a container holding whatever other meat is needed for the particular order and is put in a short queue to await cooking.

When I picked our seats, I thought they would be good and I was right.  What I didn’t realize was that Michael might have been in harm’s way had Gilles been any less agile.  Michael was directly beneath all incoming horse . . . they thundered over his head.  Ducks flew by pretty regularly, too, but a horse is ever so much bigger than a duck.

While we were waiting for our food (beef was our red meat of choice), I was snapping photos and caught the attention of the guys at the opposite end of the counter.  One of them smiled and I indicated that I would like to take a photo (with a question mark in my expression).  They were happy to oblige.  And the smiles and general goofiness belied the ballcap’s “Haters” caption.  After we finished, I went around to the guys to thank them for the photo and the smiley guy on the right introduced himself, Andre.  I then had to introduce myself and, then, since we had become such good friends, we had to do the French kissy cheek thing as we parted.  I love traveling!!

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