“I’ll have the calf’s head, please,” said my son.

There comes a time in every parent’s life, I suppose, when you see a glimpse of how you have helped shape an emerging adult. Such a moment happened to me last Wednesday night during a vacation with my twin teenage sons at a bistro in Paris. In celebration of some big milestones in my life, I decided a very special trip was in order. Ryan and Joe accompanied me to London and Paris, so I could have the extreme pleasure of expanding their horizons, while treating myself at the same time. A perfect combination.

Springtime in Paris.

Springtime in Paris.

My lifelong friend, Sonya, joined us in Paris and we decided to dine at Alain Ducasse’s famous Parisian bistro, Benoit. My boys dutifully donned their best clothes for the occasion, knowing this dinner was going to be different.

Alain Ducasse's famous Parisian bistro.

Alain Ducasse’s famous Parisian bistro.

I knew that Ryan wanted to try escargots even before we arrived in France. He’s always been my more adventurous eater, so I wasn’t surprised when he and Sonya ordered the snails to share as an appetizer and gobbled them down. Scanning the menu, Joe looked up and said, “Mom, do you see what’s listed in the ‘meats’ section? Calf’s head!” We don’t see much of that in California, at least not in my house.

Benoit menu

One of the greatest facial expressions I’ve ever witnessed was that of the proper French waiter when Joe surprised him by saying, “I’ll have the calf’s head, please.” Trying to maintain his composure as his eyes began to pop, our server explained that this dish is, “Very rich, including brain, tongue, cheek, and nose in a thick sauce.” Joe was undeterred. He thanked the gentleman, said he understood and that he would still like to try it. And he did. He ate the whole thing, much to my delight and amazement. Ryan tried the brain, too, and declared it ‘pretty good.’

Calf's head dish at Benoit -- I admit, I didn't try it

Calf’s head dish at Benoit — I admit, I didn’t try it

I share this moment because it warms my heart and I know that @ppetite readers will appreciate its significance. Whether Joe ordered this unusual dish as a sweet gesture of gratitude for the trip, to impress my beautiful friend, to shock his brother (most likely), or as a big step into the rapidly approaching world of adulthood, his dinner will be a forever memory for all of us. I write this with a heart full of love for my sons, who willingly let me drag them across the pond to share many of their mom’s passions.

Here’s to all the important moments in life, so many of which include food!

P.S. The next night we stopped at a cafe for a quick dinner and Joe ordered a hamburger. After his first bite he declared, “It sure beats brains!”