Monthly Archives: August 2010

In Search of the Right Ingredient: Ethnic Groceries

Many of the larger Paris supermarkets have international aisles.   Sometimes you can find what you need for that special recipe but most of the time, it’s just a pale shadow of the real thing.   Take heart.  There are a lot of specialized groceries in Paris and environs, perhaps one that speaks to the cuisine that’s close to your heart.  Here’s a list of some of my favorites and those recommended by friends from around the globe.  If you know of others, leave a comment with the details and we’ll add them to the post.

BRAZILIAN

Coisas do Brasil
22 rue Daniel Stern, 75015 Paris
Métro :  Dupleix
Phone:  08 92 70 18 64

CHINESE

See “Southeast Asian” below.

COLOMBIAN

La Tienda Nueva
57, rue Rodier, 75009  Paris
Métro: Anvers
Phone : 01 45 26 11 80

EASTERN EUROPEAN/POLISH

Adriana & Margot
14, rue des Goncourt, 75011 Paris
Métro: Goncourt
Phone: 01 47 00 64 50
Pastries, meats, herrings, prepared foods, and alcohol

GERMAN

Chez Tante Emma Laden
Marché de la Porte Saint Martin
20 rue Bouchardon, 75010 Paris
Métro: Chateau d’Eau, Jacques Bonsergent
Phone: 01 42 46 51 17
Sausages, beers, cookies, and other German products

GREEK

Heratchian Freres
6, rue Lamartine, 75009 Paris
Métro: Cadet
Phone : 01 48 78 43 19, 01 45 26 11 54

Mavrommatis

Chic, slick and delicious, it’s at once a fine foods boutique, traiteur (vendor of premade dishes), and restaurant featuring all your Mediterranean favorites.  Multiple locations including :

18, rue Duphot, 75001 Paris
Métro : Madeleine

89, rue de Rocher, 75008 Paris
Métro : Villiers

47, rue Censier, 75005 Paris
Métro : Censier Daubenton

In addition to the main locations, you will find a Mavrommatis counter inside the upscale Inno supermarket in Boulogne (5, rue Tony Garnier), les Galeries Gourmande in the Palais des Congrès at Porte Maillot, and in gourmet section of Galeries Lafayette (48-52, boulevard Haussmann).

Indian/Pakistani/Sri Lankan

VT Cash and Carry
11-15 rue de Cail, 75010 Paris
Métro: La Chappelle or Gare du Nord
Phone: 01 40 05 07 18
The area around Gare du Nord is thick with South Asian restaurants, sari shops, and groceries.  But you may be able to take care of all your shopping needs in this one shop, stuffed from floor to ceiling with spices, grains, beans, sauces, breads, and cooking equipment, all for very reasonable prices.  Also a good resource for British favorites.

Velan
83-87 passage Brady, 75010 Paris
Métro: Strasbourg-St. Denis, Château d’Eau
Phone: 01 42 46 06 06
Spices, herbs, lentils, rices, and much more.

JAPANESE AND KOREAN

Hi Mart
71bis, rue Saint-Charles, 75015 Paris
Métro: Charles Michels
Phone: 01 45 75 37 44
Stocks both Japanese and Korean products

Jyujiya
46, rue Sainte Anne, 75002 Paris
Métro:  Pyramides, Quatre Septembre
Phone: 01 42 86 02 22
Open seven days a week

Kanae
118, rue Lecourbe, 75015 Paris
Métro :  Cambronne, Vaugirard
Phone : 01 56 56 77 60

Kioko
46, rue des Petits-Champs,75002 Paris
Métro: Pyramides
Phone: 01 42 61 33 65
Good products but rather expensive

K-mart
6-8, rue Sainte Anne,  75001 Paris
Métro: Pyramides
Phone: 01 58 62 49 09 / 01 42 96 40 91
Open every day; a relatively new store with both Japanese and Korean products. Big, clean, and you can get sashimi, thinly sliced beef and pork, and Japanese delis.   (You can also eat sur place.)

MEXICAN

Mexi and Co.
10, rue Dante, 75005 Paris
Métro: Cluny Sorbonne
Phone: 01 46 34 14 12
Tortillas, salsas, and more

http://mexico.canalblog.com/archives/2007/09/04/1501979.html
Go to the link above for a long article (in French) detailing where to find ingredients used in Mexican cuisine in Paris.  The author recommends a number of different stores for different products (flours, spices, peppers, etc.)

MIDDLE EASTERN

Les Délices d’Orient
52, avenue Emile Zola, 75015 Paris
Métro : Charles Michels
Phone: 01 45 79 10 00
In a city with many Lebanese traiteurs, this large shop in the 15th is among the best: plenty of prepared foods ready to serve and all the unique ingredients to make your own.

Sabha
140, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75012 Paris
Métro: Ledru Rollin
Phone: 1 40 01 01 04
Great selection of Middle Eastern and north African ingredients.  Tons of grains, beans, spices, nuts, pastas, and condiments at terrific prices.  Just around the corner from one of Paris’s great open air markets, Marché d’Aligre.

PERUVIAN

Inti Peru
17, rue de Picardie, 75003 Paris
Métro :  Temple, Republique or Filles du Calvaire
Phone : 01 42 78 25 82
Peruvian handicrafts and a modest selection of foods (no fresh foods)

PORTUGUESE

Ferreira
2, rue au Pain
Carré aux Herbes, 78000 Versailles
Phone :  01.39.51.08.78

Transmontana
8, route des Fusillés de la Résistance, 92800 Puteaux
Pasteis de bacalhau and leitao assado are house specialties.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN

Tang Freres
45, avenue d’Ivry, 75013 Paris
Métro: Porte d’Ivry
Open Tuesday through Saturday ; free parking
If you like southeast Asian food, seek no further.  Although there are several Tang outlets around town, this giant warehouse is the mother ship.   Canned, bottled, bagged, frozen, or fresh, Tang Freres has everything you need for your favorite southeast Asian meal at a fraction of the price of anywhere else in town.   A large bottle of soy sauce, for example, will cost you no more than 1.35 euros here compared with about 3.50 for the same bottle in the “international” aisle of larger supermarkets.  The meats are also excellent and well priced.  The array of fresh Asian herbs, fruits, and vegetables is amazing.   Bring your own bags; no free bags and the ones for sale at several centimes apiece will likely break before you reach your destination.

Asia Store
81, avenue d’Ivry, 75013 Paris
Métro: Maison Blanche

SPANISH

Bellotta Bellotta
18, rue Jean Nicot 75007 Paris
Metro : Pont de l’Alma, La Tour Marbourg
Phone : 01 53 59 96 96
Ham, wines, cheeses, and seafood products

Cap Hispania
23, rue Jouffroy D’Abbans, 75017 Paris
Metro :  Malesherbes, Pont Cardinet
Phone : 01 46 22 11 60

El Bierzo
29, rue de l’Ouest,  75014 Paris
Metro : Pernety
Phone. : 01 43 20 41 52

SWEDISH

Affären
17, rue Duperré 75009 Paris
Phone: 01 42 81 91 75
Metro : Pigalle

Gustaf
13 rue Danes de Montardat 78100 St Germain en Laye 
Phone : 09 62 39 91 91

Maison LeBon
13, rue Lebon 75017 Paris
Phone : 01 45 74 29 17
Metro: Ternes, Perreire, Porte Maillot
In addition to the usual French products, this bakery also sells some fresh-baked Swedish specialties like kanelbulle (cinnamon rolls), princesstårta (a marzipan covered cream cake, knäckebröd (crispy bread, like Wasa), and smörgåstårta.

OTHER

Agha
21 rue Montorgueil, 75001 Paris
Métro: Sentier
Phone: 01 42 33 72 39
Spices, grains, beans, nuts, a little bit of everything.

La Grande Epicerie de Paris, Le Bon Marché
38, rue de Sevres, 75007 Paris
Métro: Sèvres-Babylone
A little bit of everything and sky high prices.  Still you might find just what you’re looking for, and it’s worth a visit even if you’re not in a buying mood.

Izraël
30 rue Francois-Miron, 75004 Paris
Métro: St. Paul
Phone: 01 42 72 66 23
This spice shop, tucked in between the rue St. Antoine and the Seine River in the Marais district, carries a little bit of everything. In the front room, you’ll find barrels of nuts, dried fruits, and grains. The shelves are stacked with oils, condiments, sauces, and spices from all over the world. Beware: some of the more exotic bottled and canned items may be a bit dusty.

Resources

Paris Culinaire

Italian traiteurs in Paris

Coping with Food Intolerances in France

by Karin Bates Snyder  

Do you have food allergies or other health conditions that prohibit your eating foods with wheat, dairy, nuts, or other ingredients? How easy is it to find food to eat in Paris for a food allergic or intolerant person? Here are some tips for traveling to or living in France from a food-intolerant person trying to find sustenance in the gourmet capital of the world.

After my first year of living in Paris, I developed some health conditions that led me to eliminate gluten and dairy, and reduce my use of cane sugar and some other ingredients in my diet. While this has not always been easy, in the process I have learned a lot about how to find food in Paris that I can eat and which won’t make me feel sick. I have also traveled to the south of France and discovered things I’ve learned in Paris apply there, too.

On scale of one to ten, with ten being the easiest place to travel or live with food intolerances, and one being the most difficult, I would rate Paris and the rest of France at about a 4 to 5 at the moment.  As elsewhere, food allergies and intolerances are on the rise in France, and I have seen improvements in awareness and understanding of food-related health conditions in even the relatively short time I have been dealing with these issues myself.

Culturally and historically, cuisine is very important to French people – maybe the important thing in the culture here. It is taken quite seriously. There is also a kind of cultural understanding that all things are fine for a body in moderation, and so the idea of eliminating something from one’s diet voluntarily is counter to how many people in France approach food and eating.

This is not to say that the French are inflexible about understanding people who have genuine health problems related to food. Since coming to France, I have met several people (French and foreigner alike) diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes destruction to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. I also know lactose intolerant people, and vegetarians and vegans, who may not have a health reason for eating differently than the bulk of the French population, but whose deep personal convictions lead them to eat differently than most. All manage to eat well in Paris, but it does take some creativity, fortitude, and patience.

Here are the key issues.

First, assess your own situation. 

Do you have only one major food intolerance, it’s not that severe, and you have experience handling it elsewhere?

If so, you are probably going to have a good food experience in France. Finding food in stores and restaurants that eliminate a major ingredient such as gluten-based grains or dairy is pretty much a piece of cake. Health food stores carry gluten and dairy-free goods, including baked goods and snacks. The average café will likely have at least one meal you can eat, even if you wind up ordering salade Niçoise each time you go out.   I have and do eat out – it is possible. My favorite restaurants are vegetarian or macrobiotic ones where foods are often organic and made from simple, whole ingredients, and also places like Léon de Bruxelles, a chain that serves mussels and frites (French fries).

There is also good information in phrasebooks (my Lonely Planet French phrase book has an entire section dedicated to food allergies) and on-line about expressions you can use in French to ask about whether a dish has an ingredient to which you are allergic or intolerant, and tips on how to befriend your waiter and finesse the entire dining experience. (See links below for more information about how to eat out in Paris or France.)

On the other hand, do you have multiple food intolerances or severe reactions to certain foods?

If this describes you, I would highly recommend that if you are visiting Paris or other places in France, you find an apartment to rent and cook for yourself instead of trying to eat every meal in a restaurant.

French waiters and chefs do not tolerate a lot of what they consider “finickiness” from diners who require special preparation of dishes. In French cuisine, the prepared dish is seen as a work of art, and is not to be deconstructed into something else.  The idea that the needs and desires of the customer are always first and foremost isn’t part of the cultural milieu here; instead, diners are seen more as guests in a home.  Would you be demanding towards friends if you were visiting their home, insisting that they prepare you a special dish just for you, even after they already prepared an elaborate meal for all the other guests? Probably not. You’d either eat first, bring your own dish to eat, or pick and choose from what is already prepared that seems “safe” and hope for the best.   That’s the kind of attitude you need to dine out in France.

Moreover, if your issues are severe, you won’t want to take the risk.  Some people have such severe gluten intolerance that they experience severe cramping and diarrhea from even the slightest cross-contamination of a few crumbs of bread that got dusted onto their plate, or from the chef using the same pan to cook an item with gluten as the item without.

Plus you do not want to risk being out and about and having an intestinal attack: another thing Paris is infamous for is the lack of easily accessible and free public toilets.  Your visit is not going to be a good one if you are constantly in search of a toilet as you are touring, or holed up in your hotel room.

Second, take action.  There are a number of good Internet resources to help you experience Paris and the rest of France gluten free, dairy-free, or any-other-food-free. The tips can apply to eating vegan and vegetarian as well.

David Lebovitz on Eating and Dining Gluten-Free in Paris.  The information in this post is still very relevant nearly three years after its original posting. Even though it is written for people who need to avoid gluten, it is, hands down, still the best and most complete post I have ever read about eating and dining in Paris with food allergies and/or intolerances. The links at the end of the post are very helpful, and I note that new comments are continually being written on this post, some of which have additional helpful information.

For example, the most recent comment has a link to a gluten-free B&B in Paris – one where the host prepares gluten-free meals: Gluten Free Paris.

Celiac Chicks on gluten-free travel. A Gluten-Free Guide to Paris is another good read about traveling and dining gluten-free in Paris.

Compile a list of the French equivalents for all the ingredients to which you are allergic/intolerant so you can read labels on packaged foods.  Try these resources: 

  • Allergy Translations is a Web site dedicated to helping people find the vocabulary they need to avoid allergens.
  • Select Wisely has food and travel translation cards you can print up and carry with you.
  • Allergy Free Passport has multiple resources to help you out on their website.

Note that labeling of major allergens contained in foods and their possible presence does exist in France. Ingredients that may be problematic for people are clearly labeled, usually just after the ingredient list.  Also look for the catch phrases traces éventuelles de… and présence possible de… followed by the name of the allergen.

Know where to go to shop. Make lists (in French) of foods you can eat as well as those you can’t.

All of the major grocers have at least a section of aisle that is dedicated to organic or eating allergen-free.  Realistically, however, you will probably have to visit more than one store to shop for foods you can eat.

Monoprix is a popular grocery chain carrying soy milk, soy-based yogurts, some gluten-free baking mixes and ready-to-eat foods or snacks as well as nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables.  Bring your list for reading labels, though. As with snack and prepared foods in the U.S., filler ingredients containing allergens are in some of these foods. Amidon transformé, for example, is modified wheat starch and is found in many snack foods.

Franprix, Leader Price, and Ed are discount grocers. They also have fresh fruits and vegetables, and the basics for preparing many dishes. Leader Price has its own line of organic products (look for the terms biologique or bio) including soy milks, rice cakes (which contain sesame, however), and jams made with organic cane sugar, among other items. These Leader Price items are sold in Franprix as well.

In the outlying suburbs of Paris, hypermarkets such as Carrefour and Auchan have large aisles of gluten and dairy-free baked goods and other foods.   Many of these stores also have ingredients for grain-free baking such as almond and hazelnut flours, but note that these products are not produced in allergen-free manufacturing plants, and may contain traces of gluten or other allergens.  I have not had much of an opportunity to shop in these stores, but know of people who find plenty of foods at these French equivalents of Wal-Mart.  

Overall, however, your best bet at finding allergen-free foods are at health food stores.  In Paris, there are three major health food store chains: Biocoop, Naturalia, and La Vie Claire.  (Check their Web sites for a location near you.) There are also independent stores in some neighborhoods.  These stores typically have dedicated shelves or areas for gluten-free products. (On the other hand, dairy-free equivalents (such as dairy-free chocolate-hazelnut spread, like the Nutella brand) are often next to their allergen-containing counterparts).  A quick read of the labeling will tell you which products are certified to be gluten-free, dairy-free, or free of other allergens. Much of the labeling is also multilingual, and some have ingredient listings in English, too.

Finally, if the prices at health food stores are too high, go to one of Paris’ districts where Asian communities have set up shop. The Marais (3rd arrondissement), Belleville (20th arrondissement), and the area around Avenue d’Ivry in the 13th have Asian-based markets and grocers where you can find rice flour, bean thread and rice noodles, and tapioca starch for a lot less than at health food stores.

I have yet to find ingredients such as coconut or sorghum flours, but new things are continuously showing up on shelves, and it seems I find something new each time I visit. Different stores carry different products, too, so exploring all of the chains frequently yields new discoveries.

I am fortunate in that my intolerances are fairly mild compared to some. Once in a while, I decide to try something that has an ingredient to which I know I will react, but the trade-off of trying something unique to France’s incredible cuisine is often worth a few of days of feeling unwell. Like anything, it is a choice. I hope, however, that if you have no choice in what you consume because of an allergy or intolerance, that you have found this information helpful.

If you have information to add or other questions, please leave it in the comments below. Or stop by my blog and leave me a note in the Contact Me section.  

Karin Bates Snyder never expected to wind up living in a place like Paris after turning 40. She also developed several food intolerances shortly after moving to the City of Light. These events have contributed to her feeling like a duck out of water, like An Alien Parisienne, the name of the blog where she writes to come to terms with being a stranger in a strange land.

Getting Ready for School

Who doesn’t love fresh clean notebooks, sharpened pencils, and a brand new set of crayons? And what could be more baffling than the list of required school supplies from your child’s school? Here’s a quick guide to the school supply vocabulary, including an explanation of some of the items that may be new to you.  These lists tend to be very specific in terms of the size, style, and color of the items.  Double check what you’ve got before you head to the register.

Writing implements

Stylo: Pen.  It comes in several varieties:  le stylo à bille (ballpoint), stylo à plume (a fountain pen).

Crayon: Aack! The word crayon is a faux ami because it’s not from Crayola.  It’s simply what we Anglophones call a pencil.  The designation H.B. is roughly akin to the American designation No. 2.

Crayons de couleur:  Colored pencils

Surligneur:  Highlighter

Porte mine:  Mechanical pencil

Stylo correcteur : correction fluid in a pen

Pochette de 12 feutres de couleur :  A package of magic markers.  Your list may specify lavable (washable), pointe fine (small point) or pointe large (larger sized point).

Feutre d’ardoise:  White board marker

Effaceur:  Eraser.   Available in the same shape as a pen or pencil to fit neatly in your trousse (see below)

Gomme:  The classic eraser

Cartouches d’encre : ink cartridges (On the supply list, this would mean cartridges for a pen but the same word is used for your computer.)

Other tools

Agrafeuse:  stapler

Ardoise:  Traditionally a chalkboard but now it’s also used to describe an erasable white board.  With this, you need feutres d’ardoise (see above) and a chiffon (a rag).

Taille-crayons:  Pencil sharpener.  If it says avec reservoir, that means it has a piece to capture the shavings.

Règle plate: a ruler.  These come in 20 and 30 centimeter sizes

Rapporteur: protractor

Équerre: triangle

Compas: compass

Art supplies

Ciseaux: scissors.  If your child is young, you probably need to get those with the rounded tips (bout rond).

Baton de colle:  glue stick

Scotch:  Yes!  It’s tape.

Rouleau de ruban adhésif sans dévidoir:  Tape without a dispenser

Tubes de gouache:  watercolors that come in tubes

Pinceaux de tailles différentes:  paintbrushes in different sizes

Gobelet en plastique, sans couvercle :  a plastic cup without a cover

Paper

Cahier:  a notebook, usually bound and stapled, rather than spiral.  And don’t go looking for one that’s lined.  Instead there are two formats:  grand carreaux, which has large squares with horizontal lines for normal writing and petits carreaux, which has 5mm squares for technical drawing and geometry.  Cahiers come in various sizes, both in terms of the size of the paper and the number of pages.  Make sure you check the list carefully!

The grand is the same size as a piece of A4 paper, which is the standard paper you would use in your printer or copier in France (slightly larger than an American 8 ½  x 11 sheet).  There are also specialized cahiers such as the cahier de musique, cahier de texte, and cahier de travaux pratiques.

Pochette de papier dessin :  drawing paper

Feuillets mobiles perforés :  looseleaf paper for a binder (see below)

Copies doubles perforées :  small sized paper (equivalent to an A3 sheet folded in half)

Oeillets: reinforcements for your looseleaf paper

Organization

Porte-documents:  A plasticized folder with plastic sleeves for papers.  You can buy these in a variety of sizes: 40, 60, 80 or 100 vues.

Chemise rabats à élastiques:  A cardboard folder with elastic bands that keep everything secure.

Classeur:  a loose leaf binder.  It can be souple (made of a flexible plastic) or rigide (made of a stiff cardboard).

Pochettes:  Usually used to describe plasticized sleeves for documents.  These can be perforated to fit in a looseleaf binder

Intercalaires:  Subject dividers for use with your classeur.

Bags

Trousse:  A pencil case and no proper French student (no matter what age) would be caught dead without one.

Cartable:  a school bag.  Traditionally, it was a satchel with a handle and maybe a shoulder strap.  But it’s also now used to refer to backpacks (sacs à dos) as well.

Other

Protège-cahiers :  See through plastic covers for your cahiers.  These come in different sizes and colors.

Rouleau de plastique pour couvrir les livres :  plastic that can be used to cover textbooks.

General notes:  Sometimes the supply list will note the desired brand (marque).

The Case of the 10 Euro Light Bulb

I got together with a newly arrived family the other day and one of their questions (along with where to go for dry cleaning, hair cuts, and hardware) was where to find a light bulb that costs less than 10 euros.  The simple answer is nowhere.   Back in 2008, the European Union passed a law affecting all its member states, banning incandescent light bulbs. Restrictions on the sale of old style filament bulbs began going into effect in late 2009;  stores can still sell any of these items that remained in stock at the time of the ban although at this point, those stocks are pretty much depleted.   (The one type of bulb you may be lucky enough to find are small chandelier style bulbs. )    The newer high efficiency bulbs use 80 percent less electricity and should save on your utility bill and reduce carbon emissions over the long term.   So open your wallet and consider it your contribution to saving the planet.

Reaching the American School of Paris by Public Transportation

The American School of Paris is located in the western suburb of St. Cloud.  There are two options for reaching the school by public transportation from the city of Paris:  the SNCF train which stops in Garches-Marnes La Coquette and the bus which stops in front of the school.

By train:   If you live in the upper 16th or western part of the 17th, take the métro to La Defense, the last stop on line 1 to the west.  At La Defense, exit the métro system and look for signs for SNCF, suburban trains.  Using the same ticket you just used for the métro (see below), enter through the SNCF turnstile and take the train in the direction of St. Nom La Breteche. 

If you live in the eastern part of the 17th, the 8th or the 9th, you will take the train from Gare St. Lazare.  Exit the métro system, come up to the street, and go into the main train station.  Hanging onto the same ticket you just used for the métro, board the train marked St. Nom La Breteche. 

Get off at Garches Marne La Coquette.  Exit the station to the street.  Turn right and walk down the road until you reach ASP, about a 7 minute walk.

You can buy a ticket in any Paris métro station that you can use for both the subway ride and the SNCF train.  If you are using a kiosk:

  • select a ticket for “billets Ile de France, RATP, SNCF” 
  •  at the next prompt, select, “Billets region Ile de France au depart de cette gare”
  • at the next prompt, select the letter “G” and scroll down to “Garches Marne La Coquette”
  • the final prompts ask whether you want a full fare ticket and how many.  

The SNCF train to St. Nom la Breteche runs relatively infrequently (about every 30 minutes during the middle of the day, more during rush hours).  Trains run more frequently to St. Cloud since you can take either the train to St. Nom la Breteche or the one to Versailles Rive Droite.  If you get off at St. Cloud, you can catch the 460 or 467 bus (see below) to the school.  It is definitely too far to walk.  If you get off at St. Cloud, you need a new ticket for the bus (a regular metro ticket will do.)

By bus:  If you live in the lower 16th, 15th, or 7th arrondissements, take the métro or bus to the end of line 10, Boulogne-Pont de St. Cloud.  If you take the métro, take the exit marked “Musee Albert Kahn.”  The bus stop for the 460 (Traverciel: La Celle St. Cloud) and 467 (Rueil Malmaison RER) is on the north side of the street.  If you take a bus (for example, the 52), get off at the stop, Quai du 4 Septembre, and wait for the 460 or 467.  You will need an additional ticket for the second bus since it goes into zone 3.  Get off at Porte Jaune which is directly across the street from the school.  When you make your return trip to school, make sure you get on the bus at the stop nearest to the lower school because both the 460 and 467 service  stop there.  The stop nearest the front entrance is served by only one bus.

The 460 and 467 run frequently at rush hours but only half hour during the middle of the day. 

You can calculate your own itinerary with exact times by going to www. ratp.fr.