A French indulgence

Touted to be the most romantic city on earth, Paris sure steals hearts, and fills bellies, when it comes to food. I love the way the Parisians eat: simple yet sophisticated, refined but still so tasty.

Things that are common place at home suddenly become a delicacy in France. Why? Because they’re done so well.

Take the humble baguette for instance. At home, never in a million years would I even try to justify that a mere baguette for lunch was a good idea. But here, where the bread is just so fluffy, so chewy, so light, I honestly can’t get enough. Even more so when they are absolutely smothered in yummy sunflower and pumpkin seeds. And when they’re only €1… take me to the bakery s’il vous plait!

I’m a huge fan of picnics, so often a baguette serves as the basis for these excursions. Markets and supermarkets both sell varieties of cheeses and meats to add to those baguettes – even better to go to a local artisan where possible (they are common and not always more expensive). Also at markets, fruit and vegetables are in abundance – the prices vary massively compared to back home, so it’s necessary to check them out.

My ex-colleagues know all too well just how much I love an almond croissant (The French Baker in Wellington deserves a shout out here) and, unsurprisingly, I was on a mission to sample a fair few. My verdict: not as good as back home! I suspect the French take more pride in their plain croissants as well as the pain au chocolat- as the almond croissant was even difficult to find at times.

In addition to boulangeries (bakeries), patisseries can be found dangerously lurking on most street corners. Naturally I have a ball here, and it’s a struggle limiting myself to just one. Another reason why I love picnics – we can buy lots and share! Macarons (and especially from La Duree) are on another planet compared to those at home. A sweet treat that is more substantive are crepes, which are commonly sold by street vendors. Hard to go past the Nutella ones, in my highly qualified (except not at all) opinion.

No trip to France is complete without trying foie gras, frogs’ legs or snails. I can’t bring myself to order foie gras, but I’m certainly always down for the other two. I find that frogs’ legs basically taste like smaller chicken wings and snails are a chewy seafood texture, tasting strongly of garlic. There is a knack to eating a snail, which I don’t think I really mastered gracefully (she says, flicking garlic pesto everywhere!).

Other common foods that we ate include just the simple quiche; an easily found lunch option and usually good value for money, as well as the traditional flammenkuchen. This dish is native to the Alsatian region (Strasbourg and its surrounds) and is essentially a flat crusted pizza. They come with a variety of toppings (most commonly cheeses and meats) and are a great meal to share as they tend to be quite big.

I appreciate I probably haven’t touched on so many kinds of French food, but the list could go on forever and this post certainly can’t. What I loved about our time in Paris is that fine food is everywhere, but it doesn’t have to come at a huge cost. Just the local shops down the road are always worth a visit!

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