Food with the City of Lights

It may make me basic, but I love Paris. Before I visited, I was enamored with the architecture, the language, and the people. After I visited over a Thanksgiving abroad, I was still enamored. I loved how easy the metro was to use. I enjoyed just walking around, even in the frigid temperatures where a scarf, boots, and coat couldn’t fight the chill. One of the best meals I’ve ever had was in a restaurant with maybe eight tables tucked away down an alley in the red light district. My feisty exterior even melted a bit when I saw couples adding their locks to the bridge (fun fact: the original one is in Rome, even though everyone talks about Paris). It’s a city full of promise, as cheesy as that sounds, and it lived up to everything I thought it would be, sparkling Eiffel Tower and all. So, the desire to consume everything from An American in Paris to French guide books when I was younger has grown into even more of a drive to get my hands on anything to do with the city. Recently, I finished The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino, who has lived the life of which I dream. Here are my favorite quotes. After you’re done reading, close your eyes and picture yourself there. It’ll be easy…and cheaper than booking a flight.

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“There are merchants who seduce me with their gastronomic passions: artichokes so young they can be served raw, a Cotes du Rhone so smooth it could be a fine Burgundy, a Mont d’Or cheese so creamy it is best eaten with a spoon.”

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“Picard is a national all-frozen-food supermarket chain with an outlet around the corner. Its frozen red mullet is half the price of the fresh counterpart at La Poissonnerie Bleue, but Picard is viewed with disdain by traditional French cooks. The dirty little secret is that some Picard fish is pas mal, which in French doesn’t mean “not bad”, it actually means pretty good….”

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“At Christmas, when I wrote about chocolate, I brought back dozens of bars from Bonnat, a small chocolate maker near Grenoble, and passed them out like Santa.”

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“Given my family history, I know a lot more about cheese than wine, and more about Italian than French cheese.”

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“He introduced new items, like sweet corn! Corn! The French feed it to animals. The only place I had ever found sweet corn in the neighborhood was at the Picard supermarket, husked, wrapped in plastic, and frozen.”

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“They imported waffle dough from Belgium. Instead of using banal Nutella to make chocolate waffles, the way every other Parisian crêperie and waffle maker seems to do, they stuffed theirs with fine Belgian chocolate.”

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“Every morning, when they open their window, the fragrance of sugar, butter, and vanilla fills the sidewalk.”

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These were the highlights for me, pulling me back to a city that cannot be paralleled. If you get a copy, buy an extra creamy cheese, some lively red wine, and picture yourself on the Rue des Martyrs. The book is easy enough to read in one go or you can pick it up, flip to a chapter and just read. It may not be the best book I’ve ever read about Paris, but it’s one I’ll keep close by when I want a dose of the city. That makes it worth it to me.

About A Famished Foodie

Food geek, wannabe Parisian, and lover of polka dots. Author of A Famished Foodie and Superior Spider-Talk contributor. Bold wine, sour beer & dessert make me nerd out.
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