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Jun 22, 2013 08:10 PM

Need Paris Kosher business travel advice

I will be going on a business trip with associates but will not be in a situation where I can choose the restaurants or eat on my own. There will be lunches in an office setting and a group dinner at a restaurant. Is it possible to make arrangements for a kosher meal to be brought into a restaurant in Paris? Any recommendations about delivery to the office (if possible)?

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  1. I've never tried to do this in Paris, but if this story is any indicator:

    My husband was at a business lunch in New York; as discretely as possible he arranged for food from a kosher restaurant to be brought to the non-kosher restaurant. There were several businessmen from the Paris office that were horrified and told him he could never do something like that in France. The French businessmen were not very polite about the situation....

    13 Replies
    1. re: PotatoPuff

      Hopefully that was a unique situation. That could be really uncomfortable.

      1. re: serenarobin

        why should that be uncomfortable? thats industry standard, when i worked in treif we got meals from kosher caterers/restaurants. noone in the nonkosher world is going to be offended. mystified, maybe, but not offended.

        1. re: Moishefrompardes

          The French can find ways to be offended...

          1. re: Moishefrompardes

            Should they be offended? No. But somehow they weren't too thrilled about him unwrapping all the shrink wrap at the table and eating different food. Sadly, many people aren't ok with "different".

            1. re: PotatoPuff

              i pack meals for things like this a couple of times a week. I mean its either suck it up eat on different plates,or have a scotch & eat later, i dont think theres as big of a stigma as you think about it, especially in larger metropolitan areas. IDK just how it seems to me.

              1. re: Moishefrompardes

                I've had such meals many times in NY and other places in the US, and restaurants are usually gracious and accommodating, as are fellow diners. It sounds like things may be different in Europe...

              2. re: PotatoPuff

                Laïcité is not the same as the American acceptance of the right be different. Asking for kosher food sets you off as different, it is viewed as a faux pas. Many Europeans are deeply embarrassed by Jews, Jewishness and Judaism; having a colleague served a special, kosher meal makes them feel uncomfortable. There is no easy answer.

                1. re: AdinaA

                  Any advice then? Is it a bigger faux pas to bow out of dinner all together ( and lose major points from a business perspective) or try to somehow arrange something (though it may not even be possible)?

                  1. re: serenarobin

                    undressed salad. scotch. im pretty sure ive heard that many hold all baquettes in france are kosher. thats my guess.

                    1. re: Moishefrompardes

                      That used to be the case, but no longer. I believe there is a way to tell the kosher ones by sight, which a local observant Jew could probably show you.

                    2. re: serenarobin

                      I've done it all three ways. 1.) like MoshefromPardes said, I usually ask for raw, naked fruit. 2.) Join the group and drink a beer while they eat. 3.) Join the group and arrange a kosher meal.

                      There is some awkwardness any way you work it. I vacillate between fruit and kosher meal.

                      1. re: AdinaA

                        And the truth is it's *supposed* to be at least a bit awkward. Dining with gentiles *shouldn't* be completely normal and comfortable -- there should be a reminder that we are different.

                    3. re: AdinaA

                      Adina, it isn't a question of Jews, it is a question of conspicuous religious practice. I'm not Jewish, by the way, but if I read the kosher board from time to time it is because I do have friends who are observant Jews, and I like to be able to help them (as well as my Muslim friends) find accommodation. I've worked on international events where we were sensitive to this issue, as well as vegetarianism.

                      I have many Jewish friends in Paris, but the majority of them are not kosher and would not even understand such a request. Not saying that is how it should be, just how it is. Interestingly, almost all my Jewish friends there who keep kosher are Sephardic/Mizrahi. They come from a universe where Muslims and Orthodox Christians also eat according to religious tenets.

                      In Paris, it is not only a matter of "dining with gentiles". I've been to events where perhaps 90% of the attendees were of Jewish origin but there was pork charcuterie.