Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cheap (Delicious) Eats in France

One of the strategies that keeps travel costs low for the Tightwad Traveler is relying on grocery stores and markets for food shopping.  Gourmets can still enjoy the finest treats a region has to offer, but they will find them in carry-out shops, delis, specialty stores, and even the supermarket.

Being waited on while sitting at a table enjoying the passing scene does have merit, and David and I do indulge in that occasionally, but, for the most part, we enjoy exploring markets and discovering food on our own.  We'd rather try four new deli dinner entrees for the same price as one restaurant meal.

But we had a problem with this weekend.  That train strike that so frustrated us in Paris was continuing to create difficulties.  We'd arrived too late to do our shopping Saturday night and the Monoprix (a large French grocery store) would be closed on Sunday.
While we loved knowing that French families would have one day a week, guaranteed by law, to spend with their loved ones, we hated to think of going hungry.  Our waistlines might benefit, but our tastebuds would certainly suffer.
Just a portion of the butter section.  With so many options, is it any wonder Julia Child relied on it when she cooked?
We hated, too,  to think of all the adventures in food shopping we'd be missing.  Nothing reveals more about a country than its grocery stores!
My friend, Judy, who spent many sabbaticals in France, had recommended cheese selections that would have to wait.
And there would be no fresh produce for us.

When we were out and about on Sunday, however, we discovered that this tourist town had boulangeries and an occasional patisserie open.  It looked as though we wouldn't starve after all.  Look at the bounty we gathered during our walk!
From the lower left and going clockwise:  quiche Lorraine, a loaf of brioche with a sweet nut topping (This is ambrosia.  Don't be fooled by any other foods that claim to be this good.  There isn't one.), a reliably good baguette, and a slice of quiche that "has a vegetable in it," according to the clerk.

We managed to eat just fine on Sunday.

Practicalities -

Don't forget to take your own bags when you shop.  While some stores do not charge for their flimsy bags, most do, and those small amounts (Roughly five cents per bag.) can easily be avoided by tucking some sturdy re-usable bags in your suitcase. Also remember that European cashiers have it easy; they sit while scanning your items and leave you to do the bagging.
Some stores are now using plastic carts that you pull behind you but most still charge for the large American style metal cart.  Remember to insert your euro to remove the chain from the cart.  When you finish shopping, return your cart to the front of the store and reattach the chain to get your euro back.

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