Sexy Feast: Restaurant Zoë, Threesomes, and a Sexual Oh Là Là

It’s time for another round of Seattle Restaurant Week, this time with over 150 restaurants offering three-course dinners for $28 (plus drinks, tax, and tip), and some a three-course lunch for a bargain of $15. One of the participants is Restaurant Zoë, now in Capitol Hill. After a rich starter of fresh ricotta gnudi, a Painted Hills burger tempted me, but having just had a Palace Kitchen burger the night before, I opted for a perfectly rare-cooked coho salmon with marinated escarole, walnuts, and apple soubise.

For dessert, pumpkin pudding seemed like a soothing choice, but I instead selected the Ménage à Poire. This dish featured pear three ways: pear panna cotta, pear sabayon, and saffron-poached pear. I enjoyed the variety of preparations, the seasonal freshness of the pear, and the relative lightness of the dessert to finish a fairly filling meal.

So what does Restaurant Zoë’s Ménage à Poire teach us about sex?

It’s all about the sexual joie de vivre of the French language.

The dessert’s name is an obvious play on ménage à trois, literally meaning “a household of three.” At Zoë, this meant a threesome of pear preparations. Sexually, this means a threesome of sexual partners, traditionally a married couple with a lover brought in. Sexy Feast has already explored the pros and cons of threesomes, inspired by a visit to Art of the Table.

But doesn’t ménage à trois, compared to threesome, sound so much more sophisticated, sensual, and solid in its commitment? And don’t other French phrases sound simply sexy?

I must have been going through puberty when I first heard the girl group Labelle sing the line “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?” in their hit Lady Marmalade. It sounded sexually suggestive, and I soon learned it translated to “Do you want to sleep with me tonight?”–fueling sexual fantasies. 26 years later, in 2001, Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and Pink covered Lady Marmalade as a single for the Moulin Rouge! film soundtrack. Even country got in the act when David Frizzell and Shelly West recorded their own song called Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi.

That may be the most famous sexual line in French, but others are equally alluring. Je t’aime means “I love you,” Je te desire means “I want you,” and baise-moi means “fuck me.” If those lines work, you may experience la petite mort, which is a metaphor for orgasm in French. The direct translation, as you might guess, is “the little death”–not a bad way to go.

So, yes, French is sexy. Think Brigitte Bardot and lingerie. Heck, a French kiss is far more fun than a regular one, as Sexy Feast exposed in a related article about French culture based on Le Rêve’s croissants. And just as a Ménage à Poire is a pleasurable way to finish a night at Zoë, bringing Zoë into your relationship can inspire a more pleasure-filled life, sealed with a (French) kiss.

(By the way, even French ads for AIDS and condoms can be quite sexy.)

First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on October 18, 2012.

(For more of my meal at Restaurant Zoë, check here.)

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