Not many might be aware of French gastronomy having been declared ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO.
But it shouldn’t come as a surprise really, knowing the French obsession with things culinary.
Cuisine is greatly valued in many European societies. But the French take it up a notch. Here cuisine isn’t food. It is a tradition. A symbol of culture and national pride. Cities come to a standstill for hours during lunchtime. The subject of les meilleur (the best) wine or cheese or mustard is cause for much passionate debate. Even a simple cup of coffee is meant to be savoured, sitting down at a cafe table, all day if you so desire!
No rushed meals on the go here, or God forbid, munching on a quick snack on the walk home! (Except perhaps to nibble on a delicately torn off bit of that baguette you are carrying under your arm!).
But when they sit down for a meal they eat with joy and without guilt. And rarely alone. Michael Pollan in his book “In Defense of Food – An Eater’s Manifesto” talks about an experiment to demonstrate the French approach to food:
“He showed the words ‘chocolate cake’ to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: ‘Celebration””
Come spring, meals are carried outdoors with the ritual and duration remaining as important, if less formal. And ingredients chosen with as much care.
That is how I wanted to end my birthday. With a picnic on the Seine. The French way. Not a hurried sandwich from a nearby deli, with my legs dangling over the water, but a planned outing with the right components for a perfect meal.
So having partaken of a fantastic (despite everything R ordered being better than mine) lunch at restaurant Goust, and exploring a couple of beautiful covered passages, we went shopping for picnic supplies on Rue Montorgueil.
Here is what we ended up with……
Pain aux céréales from Eric Kayser – є3.00
Slice of 30 month old Comte from La Fermette – є3.00
Tomato, green grape & bocconcini salad & Baba au Rhum from Stohrer – є10.00
Macarons from Georges Larnicol – є8.00
A bottle of Riesling from Les Caves du Marais – є9.00