Results tagged Bastille from David Lebovitz

Cherry Mess

cherry mess

Faced with an overload of cherries, I had no choice but to make a mess. On a trip to London, and at a dinner in Paris, I was served a couple of messes, an English dessert that traditionally incorporates whipped cream, crumbled meringues, and berries. But like most messes (present company included), they can often go in unusual – and unpredictable – directions.

cherries

Over the years, it’s evolved and I’ve seen versions that use everything from stewed rhubarb to tropical fruits. Since we are smack-dab in the middle of cherry season, I can’t resist hauling as many as I can carry home and eating them right off the stem. I keep buying several kilos of cherries at a time while other market shoppers around me are having the vendors weigh little brown paper sacks, most containing a mere poignée (handful) of cherries, and they seem to be content with that.

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Visit to a Paris Market (Video)

Everyday in Paris (except Monday), there are outdoor markets taking place in the various neighborhoods spread out across the city. Each market has its own distinct personality – and personalities – and like many residents of Paris, I like to do my shopping at an outdoor market.

As a dedicated market shopper, I find myself gravitating toward my favorite stands and sellers, such as the friendly gent who sells potatoes (and who wears just a t-shirt all year long, no matter how freezing cold it gets) and the people who come bearing gooey wedges of locally made Brie as well as unbelievably delicious crème fraîche, the kind you just can’t get anywhere else but in France. There are sturdy metal tables heaped with plenty of ice to keep all the pristine seafood and shellfish fresh, and come fall, when I don’t pick them myself, I rifle through bins of irregular apples to find just the right ones to bring home and caramelize in a warm tarte Tatin.

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Sunday Paris Market

apricotspoulet fermier chèvreboulangerie

Summer was kind of a bust in Paris this year. True, I did spend three weeks away. But from what everyone told me, Paris was just like the city I came home to; gray and overcast. One of the rewards of living in Paris is summer. After surviving the bleak, cold winter, the payoff is sitting in outdoor cafés drinking cold rosé in the heat or engaging in un pique-nique with friends by the Seine, taking advantage of the extra long days.

crustacean

Most businesses in Paris shut down for summer holidays, usually beginning around the end of July and re-opening later in August. In the past few years, since the economy hasn’t been so fabulous, more and more places have stayed open. Another factor is unrest in many French-speaking countries outside of France where the French have traditionally taken their vacations. Plus the weather hasn’t been so great in the rest of France either. So spending a few weeks on a chilly beach in Brittany or under the clouds on the shores of la Côte Basque isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. And as you know, many Europeans wear Speedo-style bathing suits and, well, let’s fact it – not many men want to be lounging around on a very chilly beach in a soul-baring swimsuit, myself included.

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Poulet rôti

roast chicken / poulet rôti

I’ve been leafing my way through a local culinary magazine whose subject for this particular issue is “Street Food.” And I’m a little confused because every place mentioned is either a storefront or restaurant, not a place where eat food on the street. I kept digging and digging, turning the pages, looking for some stories about people actually serving street food—on an actual street.

jambon aux herbes

The French are good at inventing quirky things, like the Minitel, fast trains, and a machine that spews out a hot-baked baguette in less than a minute, and the magazine quotes French photographer Jean-François Mallet (who documented take-away food in a book of the same name) as saying “The pizza truck is a French invention.”

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Les Tomates

cherry tomatoes

The French have a lot of protests and manifestations. Some of the issues they march for are a bit of a reach and we roll our eyes. And it’s annoying when the trains and other forms of transport go on strike and you need to get somewhere. But on the other hand, it’s good that they feel strongly about certain issues, enough to hit the streets. So yesterday there was a mouvement social in my neighborhood. But the one yesterday was an issue I could easily get behind.

Many people have an image of France as being an agricultural country, packed with farmers growing produce and selling it at local markets. This is pretty true outside of the major cities, but only two of the outdoor markets in Paris are “farmer’s” markets: a majority of the merchants buy produce from Rungis, which they boast is the largest market the world, and the produce gets resold at the open air markets sponsored by the ville de Paris.

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le 14 juillet

french flag

This morning when I woke up, it sounded like rain outside. Which was odd, because of the harsh sun streaking through the creases in my beloved light-blocking curtains, it seemed strange that there would be precipitation. And sure enough, when I stumbled over and yanked opened the curtain, the sky was crystalline bleu with just a few wisps of clouds lingering around the Eiffel Tower. There was not a drop of rain was in sight.

There was, however, a steady stream of French National Guardsmen, dressed in their finest, strutting down the boulevard, en route to the parade on the Champs-Élysées. The sleek, polished horses they were riding were making that pitter-patter sound on the pavement. For today is Bastille Day.

No one here calls it that, it’s only us anglophones.

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Comté

goat cheese

There’s sort of some rhyme and reason to my cheese-buying habits. One fromagerie might have the most amazing butter, so I’ll trek over to the place St. Paul to buy a packet of it. But if I want a round of Selles-sur-Cher, I’ll go to the fromager at the marche d’Aligre who always has beautiful ones on display. For St. Nectaire and Cantal, I’ll only buy those from the husky Auvergnate dude at my market on Sunday mornings and refuse to even taste one from anywhere else. His are just so good, I don’t bother doing any comparison shopping.

Last week my neighbors from San Francisco came to visit and I took them to my Sunday market, where I figured we could gather the ingredients for a semi-homemade meal, sans the tablescape.

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Le Dimanche

When I moved to France from San Francisco, I worried about what every San Franciscan worries about— “What am I going to do without burritos?”

roast chicken

For those who aren’t familiar with San Francisco-style burritos, these bullet-shaped tummy-torpedoes are rice, beans, salsa, and meat all rolled up in a giant flour tortilla and eaten steaming hot. I don’t want to antagonize the burrito folks, but being a purist, I never, ever get cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or the worst offender—lettuce, all of which make a burrito about as appealing as a rolled-up newspaper left out for a week in the rain.

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