Before an afternoon at Parc de Sceaux, I was invited by Discover Walks Paris to go on a food tour with a few other bloggers. This two-hour tour took place on the colorful Rue Montorgueil, known as the “800-year-old belly of Paris”. We sampled delicious cheese, meat, bread, and dessert while getting an insider’s view of the food scene here in Paris.
Our first stop was fromagerie La Fermette. Did you know the French have over 300 types of cheese, 200 of them consisting of goat cheese? The oldest cheese is the famous Roquefort; in fact, Julius Caesar was said to have tasted it when he came to France. With its pungent smell, this cheese is easy to distinguish among the others. Roquefort’s blue color is actually from limestone in the Roquefort region. I usually don’t like the taste (or smell), but we tasted a milder version which I found to be pleasantly tolerable 🙂
Next on the list, the baguette. Back in the day, baguettes were just bread made specifically for workers. These working men would often get in trouble for starting fights with their bread knives. Today, it’s hard to find a street in France without a Parisian casually carrying a loaf under his or her arm. Fun fact: bread is a public service in France. This means that it is actually French law that a given neighborhood can’t have all of its boulangeries closed at the same time (especially during vacation season). The French can’t be without their bread!
Now, onto the art of the baguette. Every year, there is the concours de la meilleure baguette de Paris, a competition for the best bread. 2016’s winner, La Parisienne, gets the honor of providing its baguettes for the president all year. La Parisienne competed against 155 other contestants across 30 categories, one of which includes a competition for the “music of the bread”, the sound a baguette makes when it breaks. (Tip: many Parisians will say you’re never supposed to cut bread- you should break it!)
When I first moved to Paris, I was surprised to hear one of my French friends confess, “I actually don’t like the regular baguette.” I exclaimed, “WHAT???? Are you really French?” He then explained to me that there are, in fact, different types of baguettes: the ordinary baguette (which has rounded ends and is what he describes as “the dry bread tourists always order”) and the baguette de tradition (which has pointed ends and can only be made with 4 ingredients- flour, leavening, water, and salt). After that, you can get into even more detail with the baguette moulée (thinner crust) and the baguette farinée (paler color covered in flour). Whichever you order, each baguette, by law, weighs 250 grams. I always opt for the baguette de tradition.
Last stop: dessert. Our tour guide Marie took us to two spots, Stohrer and Fou de Patisserie. I had actually already visited these shops because two people we featured on Our Paris Stories, Molly and Tiffany, respectively chose these places as their favorite spots in Paris.
Stohrer is the first place in France that democratized pastries for the public. The chef started cooking for the queen and then decided to open his bakery here in Paris in 1725. They are especially known for their chocolate eclair, pictured above.
To end the tour, we made a beautiful picnic with all the items we had picked up that morning. This was the first day in Paris this year that we actually had plenty of sunshine, so it made for a perfect picnic day.