Monday, June 12, 2006

France gets the important things right

Perhaps the greatest similarity between the US and France is the ease with which they can excoriate each countries’ political situation. As easy as it is to complain about all the things wrong with French politics, they still rock at that joie de vie thing.

The best memories I will have of this year in Paris will be my weekly shopping excursions along rue de l’annonciation and prowling the aisles of the Marché Passy. When you think of all the things that have to go right to get this kind of quality food delivered to my neighborhood every week, it is clear that France still gets many important things right.

Outside of being here, there is no way to adequately convey the full experience of having the world’s best food, sold by the world’s most knowledgeable shopkeepers, simply laid at your feet each week.

On returning from my weekly shopping expedition last week, I had the inspiration to take a picture of that week’s treasures.

The picture includes a number of extraordinary items from our favorite butcher at the Marche Passy. Here you can find minor miracles like pintade farci (lower left of picture), veau milanese (the breadcrumb-covered patties) and brochette d'agneau (lamb shish kabobs). Pintade farci is a pheasant which has been de-boned, stuffed with minced and seasoned ham and wrapped with thin slices of bacon. Here is a picture of my butcher, who once grossed out my kids by waving a skinned rabbit in front of them, all buck-toothed and eyes a-dangling.

From the fromager we have aged goat cheese, rosettes of tête du moin (monk’s head) and incredible yogurt from Burgundy made with raw milk. Even the organic eggs blow doors on any eggs I experienced in the US - flavorful, with firm yolks and bright yellow color.

From the vegetable shop on rue de l’annonciation where the hawkers yell all day long about the freshness of their strawberries and the low, low price (the prices aren't really that low, but we all play along with the pitch anyway). Figs, apricots, melons, those incredible french radishes that you don't get anywhere else, green beans from Kenya (which always strikes me as very exotic).

Every week the best food in the world is available mere minutes from my doorstep, whisked there through some collective magic of the French national will. Tell me that's not getting the important things right!