Bonjour from Par-eee!
Ahhhh, Paris. The city for lovers, chocolate mousse and crepes. After living in Europe for three years, I finally got to visit Paris! However, my visit wasn’t your average tourist voyage through the city.
I was shown the ins and outs of the city by a Parisian! Not just any Parisian… but my roommate from when I lived in Madrid! Yes, it’s awesome having friends all over the world 😉 The (obvious) benefit to that? I skipped right past all that touristy-stuff, overpriced restaurants and cliché “must-sees”, and dived into the meat and potatoes (or should I say, fromage and croissants) of the city.
I learned a plethora about the Parisian culture, and the French culture in general. And when I say “culture,” I actually mean food. Which is totally acceptable in Paris, as it’s one of the foodie capitals of the world! Now, I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to see (and eat) Paris through the eyes of a local. So, I’m here to share with you what I learned, so you can eat through Paris like a local too!
Parisian foodie fun facts
1. Crêpes are not actually typical from Paris.
Gasp! One thinks that when he or she goes to Paris, crêpes must be eaten. Well, you should, because they are downright delicious (and cheap!). However, they are NOT Parisian, and any Parisian will be quick to tell you. They actually come from Brittany, a region in northwest France.
TIP: For the best, most authentic crêpes in Paris, go to Breizh Café! Chef Bertrand Larcher is straight from Brittany. He took his regionally renowned crêpe recipe to Japan, where they exploded in popularity. So, upon returning back to his homeland, it only seemed natural to open up shop in Paris. Thus, a star was born. You can find typical French crêpes on the menu, and Japanese fusion crêpes if you’re feeling adventurous!
2. And croissants were not originally French…
That’s right! They were actually brought over from Vienna, Austria. The first form of the croissant dates all the way back to 13th century Austria! In 1839, A man from Vienna opened up a bakery in Paris and started baking the Viennese specialty, what we now know as a croissant, named for its “crescent” shape. It was such a hit, other French bakeries copied! Thus was born the flaky, buttery, mouthwatering croissant.
3. In fact, most “typical” Parisian foods don’t come from Paris!
Paris is the melting pot of France. Being that it’s the capital, many Parisians didn’t start out as Parisians! Thus, almost every food has originated from some other French region, or even country. The famous French macaron? Yup…they’re from Italy!
4. Fromage is eaten after a meal. And it’s consumed like water.
I had a family dinner at my Parisian butterfly’s house. We had Raclette, a typical French styled-meal, using a special Raclette machine to melt cheese. WATCH and DROOL as this NY-French restaurant (called Raclette) demonstrates:
Yes. It’s true. You then ooze pounds of cheese on top of your plate filled with potatoes and ham (yea, YUM). Granted, I’m a Casiedilla…bring on the cheese! But lemme tell ya’…there was A LOT of cheese involved. After we finished, Valentina’s mom ask; “so, a cheese plate anyone?” HA. (Luckily), everyone turned it down. However, I learned that it’s typical to eat a cheese plate after a proper meal, as the segway from the main dish to the dessert. Oh France, how I love you…
5. When a man begins to settle down, he starts a wine cellar.
And they wonder why us ladies like French men? 😉
6. And if you “wine” with a Parisian, DO NOT drink until…
The bottle has been open for 20 minutes! Parisian “wineys” are very serious about this. The air must get to the wine before drinking, or else it might as well be a wasted bottle. Besides, these wine cellar connoisseurs have most likely waited years and years to drink that very bottle you were about to prematurely pour…what’s 20 more minutes!
The Eiffel Tower was actually meant to be temporary
When this Parisian icon was built in 1889, it was only meant to last 20 years! However, it quickly become such an important symbol and landmark of the city, that they kept it. However, the fact that it’s still standing is defying science! The most fun fact of all? It has shrunk 5.5 inches (14 cm) in height over the past 120+ years!
AND THE MYTH BUSTER: Parisians are snooty and refuse to speak English
WRONG! The level of English in Paris has greatly improved over the years. From my experience, most waiters and store owners (especially younger ones) know enough English to get by, and they’re not ashamed to use it. In addition, I found almost everyone to be very friendly and polite. (However, I’m sure it helped that I had a Parisian by my side!)
Want more on Paris? Watch my video “A Hungry Walk through Paris!”