Paulo aime les moules frites
Sans frites et sans mayo
Here’s a literal translation of those lines: “Paul likes mussels and fries, but without fries and without mayo.”
If that doesn’t make any sense to you, that’s because this song – which appears to be a simple little ditty about a popular French-Belgian dish, moules frites (mussels and fries) – is in reality just one big filthy double entendre. (I’m too embarrassed to explain what the lyrics mean, but you can click here and get every last filthy French line in the song explained if you’re interested in that sort of thing.)
The first time I ever had moules frites was in Paris. It was the last night of my first visit to the “City of Light” (a/k/a/ “City of Dirty Double Entendres”), and I was dining at La Gueuze in the Latin Quarter, enjoying a Belgian bière with my moules frites and reading A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway’s account of his years as a young writer living in Paris in the 1920s.
|Hemingway in Paris (circa 1924)|
In that book, Hemingway mentions that he and his first wife once lived in an apartment at 74 rue de Cardinal Lemoire, which I suddenly realized was only a few blocks from where I was sitting.
I paid my bill and hotfooted it to the Hemingway’s building, which was identified by a historical marker:
It was a deeply satisfying experience for a simple small-town boy like me.
Two years ago tonight, I had another memorable experience while drinking Belgian bière and eating moules frites. I wasn’t in Paris that night – I was at La Bonne Bistro, a modest little French restaurant in Washington, DC.
The moules frites were the prelude to a Flamin’ Groovies show that I had won free tickets to. I’ve written about that evening at some length, and I won’t repeat myself here.
(Did I just say “two years ago”? How can that be? I remember every detail of that evening vividly – it feels like it took place much more recently than two years ago. Why does time seem to go by faster as you get older? Two years ago is nothing. Even twenty years ago can seem like last month.)
Mussels came to the Washington, DC area relatively recently. The first place I had them was a small out-of-the-way restaurant in suburban Maryland called Mannequin Pis after the famous Brussels statue:
Mannequin Pis opened in 1999, when Belgian restaurants in Your Nation’s Capital were as scarce as hen’s teeth.
Nowadays it seems like you can’t go two blocks without tripping over a mussles-and-frites emporium.
|Moules, frites, bière|
I’m all for that. A serving of mussels has relatively few calories, which is a good thing for those of us who are watching our figures. (And if we don’t watch our figures, no one else will – am I right or am I right, ladies?)
Of course, the fries that accompany the mussels contain plenty of tasty fat calories – especially if you go native and dip them in mayonnaise instead of ketchup.
“Moules frites” was released in 2013 by the Belgian recording artist Stromae, whose birth name is Paul Van Haver. (“Stromae” is “Maestro” but with the syllables reversed. The French do this a lot – they call it verlan.)
Here’s “Moules frites”:
Click below to buy the song from Amazon: