Friday, March 21, 2014

" l'epicerie"

thursday,  march 21

In Paris if you need to buy last minute food, you climb down the stairs and run to your local grocer,  "l'epicerie,"  or  "chez l'epicier,"  that's your local grocer.

 It is often a charming cramped store, usually titled like "  La Ferme Vaneau"  which is not a farm but just a grocer. The fake farm has an incredible assortment of products, produce, wines and waters in the tiniest square feet you can imagine. The grocer may look down on you like you are an intruder, but if you politely say, " Bonjour Monsieur,"  he will become amiable, and if you talk of the soccer game you can hear streaming on the radio in the back store, then he will be, to you, downright adorable. If more than one customer is in, people are very careful to line silently, and not touch each other in aisles that are like 1/5 of an airplane aisle.

If while you are paying, another customer comes intruding, doesn't say " Bonjour Monsieur," and starts moving products on the shelf to check the labels, the grocer will look up at you, while giving you back the change,  with the martyre air of a beaten puppy. You will smile back with the compassion  of someone who understands deep down the depth of humanity issues,  and he will give you a Carambar for free. A Carambar is a soft sort of caramel. Any child in france knows what a Carambar is.

But, if you are not looking for a last minute food at the foot of your apartment, then you treat yourself to "  La Grande Epicerie "  or the Big Grocer.  It is at the foot of the Bon Marche, and for sure the Reporter had reported on it before on this splendid blog. But, today we entered a new phase since, about a few months ago, the  Grande Epicerie ended its full remodeling  to something absolutely grand.

So the Reporter had to visit it on her first days in Paris,

So there, she could ogle at the veggie stands,  a favorite,

another stand of vegetables, so another favorite,

and the tomato stand, a favorite too,

then the fish stand of course, her favorite,  or  " La Poissonnerie "  with its awesome mosaic wall,

and then next, she went on to the sweet delicacies,
so two brands of " copeaux de chocolat"  which simply means chocolate chips really, which you buy to make your hot chocolate at home,  so you have
"  La Maison Bonnat "   a very old  french alps company,  and they get their chocolate from Trinidad, Ceylon, Hacienda Rosario [ Venezuela ], Chuao, Madagascar, so, as you see it is a very respectable house, la Maison Bonnat. So this is the can :

or the second brand, so called "  Dolfin"   pronounced < doll-feng > and honestly this is a Belgian chocolatier so, you will understand, that can is looked at with some circumspection by the french.

So move over, Nesquick.

Then the Reporter stopped at the Raviolis stand, because after a hot chocolate to warm you up, you do need some raviolis to maintain weight,

and then she stopped to check on the " patisseries " the sort of chi chi pastries that the french love to make.
So there was an assortment of eclairs and   "religieuses"  a word that  means " nuns"  and that is the name given to a pastry very much like an eclair,  except its shape is  round with a little round mound on top and some whipped cream. On the pic, the nuns are on the  left side.

lots of whipped cream as you see, not at all in the limited tastes of the Reporter,  but the Parisian will love their "religieuses," and eat them religiously as it should be done.
Then we have the inevitable little "  macarons "
 which you nimbly eat with a cup of tea from the Maison Damman named
 "  le thé Jardin du Luxembourg "  or the tea " Garden of the Luxembourg " which is located just a few blocks away from the Grande Epicerie. When you are a child, after school around 4 pm you go to the Jardin du Luxembourg to play hide and seek, and run for your life from your friends from school.

The Reporter stopped then by the "  Cremerie"  at the  Grande Epicerie, where there is a whole wall dedicated to  creme fraiche,  which is heavy cream.  This just shows how the french need to have a choice for their heavy cream.

Somewhat saturated with this display, the Reporter hopped onto some other department at the Bon Marche where they had some other exquisite delicacies,

Then from these, the Reporter left the Bon Marche, this entreating den of small iniquities to stop and  gaze pensively at her very beloved florist,

Then the Reporter went home, visually brimming with so much beauty galore.  

With all love,

the Frog  

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