Chocolate Mousse and French Socialism

I’ve recently discovered that the French socialist system is best summed up by shared desserts. And I would have written about these findings sooner, but I was completely waylaid by a giant bowl of mousse au chocolat.

No, really. A chocolate dessert of epic proportions has an incredible way of sinking you into a happy stupor that makes it nearly impossible to get up at a decent hour the next day or really accomplish anything productive for at least a week. Especially when said dessert was preceded by a few glasses of wine and a hunky piece of steak sprinkled with fresh herbs and sea salt.

But now that I’ve shaken my gustatory coma, I can tell you the tale of the most heart staggering, tears-of-joy inducing dessert I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant. It was at a little place called Chez Janou, tucked back in the cobweb of streets behind the Place des Vosges.

Picture in your mind for a moment the cutest, most quintessential Parisian cafe: a cozy glow emanating from the windows, laughter drifting from the terrace, yellow walls and an old zinc bar. Now add a bunch of feisty hipster waitresses and a slightly raucous crowd sipping rosé. That’s Chez Janou. And it’s wonderful.

Except for the part where you’re waiting for nearly an hour for your main course to arrive because the place is so damn bustling that the two waitresses on duty can barely catch their breath. Or the part where you wait another 45 minutes for someone to clear your plates and bring a dessert menu. And you’ve run out of wine.

Let’s just say the charm was running thin by the time we actually had a chance to order dessert. But we stuck around, soaking up the atmosphere and agreeing that we should ask for the check as soon as possible, unless we wanted to witness the sunrise from our table.

And then I saw it: A comically huge, roughly hewn piece of pottery balanced on the hip of our tiny waitress. In the other hand she had two plates. I was confused. Didn’t we order chocolate mousse? That refrigerated pudding usually relegated to fancy glassware?

The crock landed on the table with a thud. I peered inside to see what can only be described as nirvana – a deep vat of dark chocolately wonder that looked rich and fluffy and unfathomably thick at the same time. The waitress handed us our plates and said, “Just don’t lick the serving spoon.”

Yes folks, I found a place that offers serve-your-self, all-you-can-eat chocolate mousse. Let me type that again, just in case you didn’t understand: A big bowl of family-style chocolate heaven, entrusted to each diner who should be so brave to take on the challenge. Once you reach your fill (or someone else orders the same dessert) the waitress carries it off to the next lucky table.

Now some of you may be thinking, Gross! You’re eating out of the same bowl as other diners! And we may not be able to be friends anymore, because you’re totally missing the point. That’s why you don’t lick the serving spoon! And if we all promise not to eat too much and to not spit in the bowl, then we all get to profit from the wonders of the self-serve crock of chocolate! Very simple really, and a shining example of French socialism at its best.

JENNIFER WILLSON is an American in Paris.


More articles by:
March 22, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Italy, Germany and the EU’s Future
David Rosen
The Further Adventures of the President and the Porn Star
Gary Leupp
Trump, the Crown Prince and the Whole Ugly Big Picture
The Hudson Report
Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons and Debt in Antiquity
Steve Martinot
The Properties of Property
Binoy Kampmark
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Surveillance Capitalism
Jeff Berg
Russian to Judgment
Gregory Barrett
POSSESSED! Europe’s American Demon Must Be Exorcised
Robby Sherwin
What Do We Do About Facebook?
Sam Husseini
Trump Spokesperson Commemorates Invading Iraq by Claiming U.S. Doesn’t Dictate to Other Countries; State Dept. Defends Invasion
Rob Okun
Students: Time is Ripe to Add Gender to Gun Debate
Michael Barker
Tory Profiteering in Russia and Putin’s Debt of Gratitude
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us