Monday, August 8, 2016

Odette Paris : One of the best Choux a la Creme

French patisserie is well known all over the world but few people know about the little gem called "choux a la cream". The choux pastry is a light and airy puff pastry which swells up during cooking leaving a hollow space which is later filled with whipped cream or custard.

   In 16th century, an Italian patissier Pantarelli invented the dough in Florence & travelled to France along with Catherine de Medici. His successor Popelini made a cake from the dough dried in fire and called it 'pate a chaud'. The same dough since the 18th century is known as pate a choux because the cake resembled little cabbages (choux means cabbage in French).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Markets of Paris - Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

In the current era of globalization, when the way of life is being firmly governed by large conglomerates, supermarkets has taken over our daily necessities, creating needs and then satisfying them with products flying, sailing and jettisoning in from around the world. According to an UNESCO report such unprecedented acceleration and intensification of globalization may have a homogenizing influence on local culture, create new opportunities for millions but such integration may well result in loss of uniqueness of local culture, which in turn can lead to loss of identity, exclusion and even conflict. According to another report, in the UK, 97% of food items are sold by supermarkets and hypermarkets, with fewer than 1,000 specialist fishmongers, 7,000 butchers and 4,000 greengrocers, and barely 3,000 independent bakeries still left, but may well close down in the near future. France does barely better in the survival rate of local vendors with supermarkets taking over more than 75% of our daily needs and the 6 principle groups (Carrefour, Leclerc, Auchan, Casino, Intermarché and Système U) commanding 85% of that market. Politics has also played its part in the group of supermarkets and hypermarkets with a 2008 ruling that made it easier for large groceries to negotiate with the suppliers, though in turn making products at least 10% cheaper to the customers but all at the cost of the base producers and their meager profits. However local markets have still survived largely throughout France, mainly due to the persistence of the local producers and the inclination of the habitants for local seasonal fresh products even at slightly (must mention not always though) higher prices.  Most food items reaching the houses of Paris arrive at the wholesale market of Rungis, in the southern suburb of the city, from where they are distributed to restaurants and more than seventy local markets that can be found scattered around Paris. At such local markets one can find the real appetite of Paris and a quintessential culture that has survived over centuries in the heart of the Parisians. I will over time describe some of the best and well-known local markets of Paris and I will start with the oldest market of Paris that just celebrated its 400 years of existence.