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Jul 14, 2014 04:00 PM

How A Major American Travel Magazine--Conde Nast Traveler--Gets Paris Food Shopping Hilariously Wrong!

Thought my fellow Chowhounders deserved a good chuckle:
Couldn't believe my eyes when I read this list of 12 great things to buy in French supermarkets that you can't buy at home. Half of the stuff is industrially produced junk and half of it is as readily available in the US as it is in France.

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  1. I wonder if they serve all these "wonderful" items at Chez Remy in Paris Disneyland. :>)

    2 Replies
    1. re: BlueOx

      It is one of the many silly clickbait "articles", though some of these foods may be more common in France than in the US.

      The best thing to do is simply explore a good quality French supermarket. I always tell travelling friends that supermarkets are worth a foray, great as street markets are. They give you a better idea of what people actually eat (at least in industrialized countries) and always have "staples" that are rare at home.

      1. re: lagatta

        Yes - I imagine that was exactly the point, how super market staples differ. Madelines vs Oreos, creme brûlée vs. pudding. And they picked stuff with cute packaging that might even look French to the average American tourist. I think they did what they set out to do.

    2. Allow me to disagree. This is an uncommonly cute article that at least is accurate, gets the facts right and contains far less nonsense than the average NYT report written by people supposedly "immersed" in French life for years.

      We have:
      Bonne-Maman madeleines
      Bonne-Maman crèmes brûlées
      Butter with sel de Guérande
      Crottins de chèvre
      Glass jars of pâtés
      Artisan fruit syrups
      Canned cassoulet (La Belle Chaurienne being put forward)
      Marshmallow bears
      Crème de marrons Clément Faugier

      Aside from macarons, marsh bears and Bonne-Maman items (and even their definition as "crap" is disputable), not a lot of this is "industrially produced junk". Much is perfectly good products that have been part of French life for many decades.
      As for their availability in the US, I have no experience of that so maybe that's the true weak point of the story.

      I won't say anything about the food styling though, except that the cold cassoulet in a "café au lait" breakfast bowl with parsley on top gives a new dimension to the word "surrealism".

      16 Replies
      1. re: Ptipois

        Ptipois, surely not more surreal than this from 50+ years ago:

        1. re: hill food

          Now THIS is food styling. However, as a food stylist, I have already saved a copy of the cassoulet bowl (thus proving how little I care about intellectual property).

        2. re: Ptipois

          Just vis a vis the availability issue: at least 9 of the listed products are readily available in NYC. Maybe not the same brands but still, bad research on their part.

          1. re: Steve R

            @Steve R: Out of curiosity, which products did you see in NYC and where were they? Other than Bonne-Maman jams, I've never seen any of the slideshow items at home. Maybe it was because I wasn't specifically looking for them!

            1. re: helloterrestrial2014

              First of all, a lot of trouble can be saved by using, as they carry beaucoup de French products and ship quickly… I've just looked to double check, so I know that they list jars of cassolet, the fruit juice syrups and several other things on the list, including an extended Bonne Maman inventory. I believe they are based in NYC to boot (Washington Hts. area). Outside of this, several items are actually pretty easy to find: The cordial juice syrups (not the brand shown) & a couple of other products (jars of pates, etc) are found at ethnic groceries like Kalustyan's (Lex. Ave) or Sahadi's (Atlantic Ave, Bklyn) or even some chain stores like Fairway or Garden of Eden. Of course, small goat cheeses & macarons are at most outdoor markets &/or in artisanal bakeries/cheese shops all around NYC but I'm sure you weren't asking about these.

              1. re: Steve R

                oh, I'm not sure if I'm glad you posted that or not. (neither is my husband...)

                1. re: Steve R

                  @Steve R:
                  Thanks for taking the time to reply! I'll have to check out all the places you recommended. I always thought Sahadi's and Kalustyan's specialized in Middle Eastern products.
                  Yes, I'm familiar with products from the farmer's market/artisan/local vendors in NYC. Those are my preferred locales but it's always fun to expand my horizons!

                  1. re: Steve R

                    I've visited this site before, and they do have an extensive selection of deliciousness. However, just a few select Bonne Maman items :(

                    Really, most times it's just part of the fun shopping in France. Instead of buying magnets and useless trinket souvenirs, I pick up edibles (you're there already, why not).. plus you get more variety/see the full range, and are able to see the expiry dates.

                    Bonus if you need more info and the owners/store associates are there to help out. We picked up several interesting Fallot mustards when in Dijon (after trying ALL the flavors they carried in store). I noticed the D&D here only carries 2 or so types.

                    Lastly, I'm lucky that many items are available where I live.. but if you're living in a smaller city, you really can't readily find some of these items at your local grocery store.. sometimes you don't want to wait for mail order ;)

                    1. re: DistendedBelly

                      just a heads-up -- I found Fallot mustards at Total Wine, of all places -- $3.99 for the small jar, which is a bargain (they're €3 at the Fallot facility in Beaune)

                      They had walnut, and tarragon for certain -- and several other flavors I can't remember.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          you betcha.

                          I stop just short of eating the pain d'epices with a spoon.

                          (yes there was a box full of Fallot mustards in the container of household goods I shipped back. And another box of giant jars of Amora. Salad dressing, of course)

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Hint: We learned about the pain d'epices flavor from our hostess in Santenay who told us her intriguing dressing for greens was made with this mustard.

                            1. re: mangeur

                              my favorite was to put it on raclette.

                              A friend of ours stuffs supremes of chicken (or flattened boneless chicken breasts) with walnut Alouette, then breads and bakes them similar to a chicken Kiev. She then makes a sauce with creme fraiche and the walnut Fallot.


                              1. re: sunshine842

                                @mangeur & @sunshine842 -- nice! now I'm armed with some additional ideas for what to do with my collection of mustards :)

                        2. re: sunshine842

                          Thanks for the heads up! Will keep this in mind once our current supply starts to dwindle:

                        3. re: DistendedBelly

                          fwiw, Zabars generally has a wide selection of Fallot mustards, but not in every size.

                2. I have to admit that I do enjoy the individually wrapped madeleines from Bonne Maman, and will buy a bag or 2 back whenevs in France (or from the Galeries Lafayette in Berlin). They taste great, and the ingredients list (unlike Oreos) is recognizable and short. Can be enjoyed with a nice cup of tea, or with some berries and cream for a quick dessert.

                  Are these available in Manhattan? I know select Bonne Maman jams/preserves are readily available, but I haven't looked hard enough for the baked items..

                  From that list:

                  * I did buy 2 tins of La Belle Chaurienne cassoulets from Toulouse last week :) No idea if it tastes any good. I think we were more tickled with the fact that we could transport such an iconic dish back home to savour.

                  * French butter (President, Lescure, Isigny, etc) is readily available in Manhattan, but we did pick up some regional butters to sample since you can't find those here (eg Savoie butters, AOC Bresse, etc)

                  * I enjoy the chilled desserts section of French supermarkets. Can't remember all the ones I've sampled from past trips, but from this trip, we enjoyed the creme caramel from Bonne Maman (again, short ingredient list), as well as some panacottas, and a fresh tasting faisselle with fruit compote. They're super convenient when you're on the road and are looking to end a picnic on a sweet note

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: DistendedBelly

                    "I have to admit that I do enjoy the individually wrapped madeleines from Bonne Maman"

                    Have you tried the ones with a thin layer of milk chocolate underneath ?... mmmm guilty pleasure... (although you are right, not so guilty considering the short ingredient list)

                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                      Yes! Absolutely love the chocolate covered ones too :)

                      This past trip we picked up a bag of the Quatre Quarts (which made it back home with us, have yet to try), and a bag of the lemon poppy seed cakes for the road. The lemon poppy seed ones are chock full of delicious rind and packed with flavor in such a tiny cakelette. I thought this was quite nicely done for an industrially made product.

                      1. re: DistendedBelly

                        The quatre quarts are nice and buttery.

                        I agree, their products are probably the best supermarket brand (if you exclude the products from small producers sometimes found in some supermarkets).

                        1. re: Rio Yeti

                          absolutely -- Bonne Maman is one of the few that turns out very tasty products with ingredient lists that you can actually recognize as ingredients that you have in your own pantry.

                          Rio -- Bonne Maman jams (the 250ml jars) are $4.59 EACH in my local Publix for any of the dozen flavors. Makes me weep, even if I understand the costs of logistcs.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            I usually make my own jam (yes I'm bragging a little) ;)

                            But yes Bonne Maman is one of the brands I trust. Even their yogurts/desserts are not half bad.

                            La laitière has also a few good things, but the ingredient list gets slightly longer.