Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Terroir France: Paris Day 2

Rue Mouffetard, "Marche Mouffetard", La Boucherie or Meat market
Rue Mouffetard, "Marche Mouffetard", White Asparagus "asperge", grown in France
Rue Mouffetard, "Marche Mouffetard", Cheese Shop "La Fromagerie"

Rue Mouffetard, "Marche Mouffetard", Homemade candies at the market
All Photos (Lexi Van de Walle)

Whenever I go on vacation, I like to see the food and farmers markets and eat locally grown and caught fare, and especially foods that are not available locally in the Northeast, US. No surprise for this LIGHTHEARTED LOCAVORE.

Today, we walked and walked taking in the Musee d'Orsay, Luxembourg Gardens, a Perrier break at Les Deux Magots (one of Julia Child's favorite cafes on Place Saint Germain des Pres) food market in the Latin Quarter, "Marche Mouffetard", and lunch at Cafe Mouffetard.

Marche Mouffetard takes up a few blocks and is filled with fruits and vegetables, bakeries and patisseries, meat markets, chicken rotisseries, cheese shops and more. Expecting more of a farmers market, I was surprised to see so much produce from Morocco and South America (I later learned that the farmers market/locavore movement that we've grown to understand via New York City's Greenmarkets and Long Island's farmstands is NOT what is typical for Paris -- global food can be colorful and vibrant too).

Cafe Mouffetard is a wonderful little family-run restaurant frequented by Parisians right in the middle of the market at 116 Rue Mouffetard. I had a delicious, aromatic and totally decadent Reblechon cheese (Haute-Savoie/Thones Valley/French Alps) and potato gratin with a green salad and large bottle of Perrier. Henry enjoyed the duck confit which was in a word "magnifique".

Reblechon has been granted the highly coveted A.O.C. Appellation d'Origine Controlee designation which identifies a food or wine as being from a particular area. A.O.C is based on the concept of "terroir". Terroir translates from the French to literally mean land. An agricultural area, the French argue, has a unique soil, weather conditions, and farming practices which all contribute to the uniqueness of the food and flavor from that area. A commonly known example, in order for a sparkling wine to be called Champagne it must be from the Champagne region of France. It's no surprise that in France there is an incredible sense of pride of place with respect to their foodstuffs. Reblechon included!

For the rest of the week, I will be on a search for locavore producers in Paris' many outdoor markets, food shops and restaurants.

France is a kind of food heaven with a very strong agricultural economy. With its abundance of small producers making world-class cheeses and wines, growing fruits and vegetables, raising chickens, rabbits, frogs and pigs. And, its seafood purveyors harvesting from the Atlantic, North Sea and Mediterranean coastlines. Its land is fertile. And, seas are rich. No wonder much of Europe gets a lot of its food from France.

Compared to the US, France is a small country (tiny in fact). Paris is centrally located so no matter where the food is from in France it is relatively "local" in terms of being good for a locavore to eat. The distance from Paris to Marseille in the south, which is known for its seafood, is less than 500 miles or roughly the distance from the east end of Long Island to the western borders of New York State. That's pretty local to me!


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Stephanie said...

Wow, Lexi, what an AMAZING trip!!! Sounds absolutely incredible.

Unknown said...

Hey Stephanie -- thanks for stopping by. If you and John haven't done Paris or France together yet I highly recommend you book your plane and hotel immediately. A good excuse for his big birthday...