Forget the Eiffel Tower, walks along the Seine and accordions; I fell for Paris the first time I did a food shop. And whenever this fair City of Lights angers me with her dog poo, her complete disregard for cyclists, or her lack of vaguely helpful call-centre staff, I open my fridge and remember why I do love Paris really.
1. Bread and her sneaky cousin the pastry
Arriving in Paris, I remember sniffing out my local boulangerie and standing slack-jawed in front of the window, completely overwhelmed by the display. How was my year’s plan to become a chic, skinny¸Parisienne ever going to work if French bakeries seduce you with a sugar offensive before even stepping foot inside?
There is a cunning reason that the bread is always at the back of the shop. You need the will power of a saint to stagger past the army of macaroons and pain-au-heaveninabuns without caving in, gesticulating like a madwoman at the cream cakes, then the chocolate pudding, then the millefeuille, maybe a couple of macaroons…. It rarely ends well*.
* “Well” in the sense that you leave the premises with exactly what you came in to purchase, a sense of pride, restraint, and no sugary crumbs on your chin.
“TWO EUROS SEVENTY FIVE CENTS!”
“But it looks gross. And it’s in a plastic bottle”
“LET’S GET LOOOOOADS”
The morning after, I vowed never to drop below the four euro mark. But I still never stop smirking smugly when I’m in the drinks aisle at Tesco’s in the UK. In Paris, a glass of wine costs less than a diet coke, which may explain why my alcohol consumption has risen sharply since expatriating. Swings and roundabouts.
(Plus there are great little wine bars like this one I wrote about) http://www.parisvoice.com/food-and-drink/404-discovering-the-cave-du-daron
The worse it smells, the more I’m going to want it.
This is not my life mantra, but it’s true that part of me has always been a little bit française in my cheese preferences. I love going to the Saint Quentin indoor market and chatting to the cheese ladies, one of whom once went to Liverpool on a cheese course, and is desperate to find herself a liverpudlian boyfriend parce qu’ils sont tous adorables. There is always a far larger amount of free taster cheese in my stomach than in my little plastic bag swinging on the side of my bike. And I always forget the name.
So here’s to Paris, and stuffing our faces