Paris was absolutely everything that I ever thought it would be and so much more. The people there were incrediby warm, gracious and friendly. One guidebook we read before our trip said that most Parisians have graduated from “the school of withering looks”, so I expected the worst. How wrong it was.
We were so fortunate to experience a tour with Barbara Pasquet James on one of our first days in Paris. (You can find Barbara at http://www.paristalks.com) We strolled around the city streets, rode the subway, and visited the beautiful markets. Barbara taught us the importance of saying “Bon jour” when you enter a shop or attempt to talk to a Parisian native. Upon leaving a store, always say “Merci!” and “Au Revoir!” It was like we possessed the magic words necessary to unlock the friendky side of Paris, and as we charmed our way in and out of endless little boutiques, we always encountered smiles.
The refrigerators in France are small. The reason is that people who live there do not stockpile food, instead they simply buy what they need for a day or two. In addition to the open air and closed markets there are specific little shops for everything. You want fish? Go to the fish market. You want bakery goods or bread? There are special bakeries. You want cheese? That’s found in the cheese shop. You want chocolate? Oh yes, chocolate stores are everywhere.
The emphasis is on fresh ingredients and on simple, but flavorful food. One night we steamed some enormous artichokes from the local market, sliced some heirloom tomatoes of different varieties to go with our low-carb toast points, olive oil and sea salt with white truffles, and capped it off with fresh slices of cantaloupe. It was a light and tasty meal. Perhaps I should confess that the reason we we were willing to eat such a light meal was because we had trolled the chocolate shops and bakeries earlier in the day.
It seems that people in Paris are very fond of various kinds of meat like prosciutto, Parma ham, salami, and similar items. The cheese is incredible, so we put together a platter of meat, cheese, cucumbers, and sun-dried tomatoes. We purchased some carrot salad at the local deli, along with some mozzarella balls marinated in olive oil and herbs. For those not doing low-carb, there were quiches and croque monsieurs.
A green salad and beef bourguignon completed our meal.
I will tell you a funny story about the desserts. One day we decided that we would indulge in some of the treats from a bakery that featured most fabulous-looking sweets imaginable. We decided to get seven or eight different items, cut them into six pieces, and we would each sample each of them. Here’s the funny part: they came from a Moroccan bakery, and virtually everything was made with finely chopped nuts and honey, so even though the desserts all looked very different they tasted identical. Serves us right for eating sugar!