Sunday, June 26, 2011

From Paris--the City of Food

I have always wondered why my blog is read all over the world, sometimes even in the smallest and most distant countries, but its French visitors are not among the top-five nations, especially with the French being so famous for their love of food. I think, while visiting Paris last week, I found an answer to this question.

Among many things, life in Paris is prominently about food and if I lived there I probably would not cook much and certainly had no time to read food blogs. All the streets are lined up with cafés, restaurants, bars, and other places to eat in. Much of the social life in Paris happens out on the streets where restaurant tables are placed, day and night. The long drawn-out evenings are about food, wine, conversation, and watching the passers-by as well. It was extremely difficult to take pictures and being unnoticed by the people who not only eat but also enjoy the view on the street.

By having many French friends I know that they also cook often at home and many of them prepare daily what would be called a fancy meal here. I must say however that cooking in France is not difficult at all. Amazing food products and ingredients, which are considered delicacies in the US, you can buy all over Paris in big stores and small speciality shops, including many exotic ones, ...

or at one of the many street market, like that in Marais where chanterelles (from Macedonia) are already available.

Even a tiny supermarkets squeezed among restaurants and cafés in my Paris neighborhood reminded me more of the high-end Balducci or Dean & Deluca stores than of my local Giant. Surprisingly, the food sold there was very tasty with a large line of organic products.

It was hard to take pictures, as not all people liked them. When I got to the most impressive Grande Épicerie de Paris, I finally was able to document some of the Parisian food assortment, but soon after going through the stands with my camera I was told that pictures were "interdit", so here is just a small sample of what I had the pleasure to see with my own eyes.

Just salt and mustard.

Breads, which you can buy warm all day long are fantastic and if I lived in Paris I would never try to bake my own.

They are especially good with the paper-thin smoked ham, like the Spanish Serrano,


or an endless array of "aromatic" cheese.

Yogurts are creamy and often sold in glass or colorful pottery containers.

The ready-to-eat crème brulée, mousse au chocolat, or tiramisu are better than most home-made versions I have ever tried.

Having that choice of chocolate on a daily basis, I am not sure I would keep my size 2 for very long.

My kids enjoyed very much the fresh and original pastas and raviolis filled with eggplants or artichokes.

All that inspired me so much that I have been cooking a lot since my return home and just cannot decide what to share first. How about another beets recipe, this time from a French chef?

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