Scallops were never something I’d thought much about: I recognized their white, cylindrical forms and enjoyed their smooth, rich texture and caramelized bits at restaurants. But growing up nowhere near the sea, I had no idea what the shell of a scallop looked like or really how it ended up on my plate. So when I found myself signing up for a cooking class that focused on preparing scallops two ways, I didn’t really know what to expect. And since it took place at the école de cuisine Alain Ducasse in Paris, I prayed that my long-dormant French would come back to life well enough to follow the teacher’s instructions.
I arrived in Paris to join my grandmother for a few days while she was visiting the city. Completely unfamiliar with the 1er arrondisement, where we were staying instead of our usual Left Bank stomping grounds, we looked for places to eat that were not too far afield. Our hotel gave us a few recommendations, and my ears perked when I heard that the chef of a little bistro around the corner was formerly of the world-renowned Tour d’Argent. After meeting a friend for a brief apéro, we dropped by to see if they could squeeze us in. We were in luck; as it was toward the end of dinner service, they had a table that had just left, which they quickly cleared for us.