Good food: Paris in 10 specialities

Croissants, macarons, baguettes and croque-monsieurs: Paris’s best culinary specialities!

The baguette

© Rob Cheatly via Flickr

Spread with jam, eaten as a sandwich, or just dipped in the sauce of a good dish, the baguette is the French specialty par excellence. Characterized by its crusty exterior and soft interior, the baguette owes its shape to Viennese bread, imported to Paris in the 19th century. To enjoy the best quality baguettes, be sure to buy them from an artisan baker – patience and quality ingredients are the hallmarks of their bread making!

Cheeses from the Paris region

© Thesupermat via Wikimedia Commons

Made mainly from cow's milk, cheeses of the Paris region are distinguished by their softness and their ancestral methods of production. Most well-known are the bries: from Meaux, Montereau, Melun or Provins. These cheeses made from unpasteurized milk and have a soft texture and distinctive flavour. On markets in Paris, you will also find Coulommiers, whose taste and texture are similar to Camembert. A real treat!

The Opéra

© DR

In 1955, a Parisian pastry chef created a cake made of successive layers of coffee flavoured cream, coffee ganache and almond sponge, and a smooth and generous chocolate topping. When his wife saw this geometric glossy creation, she compared it to the sumptuous stage of the Paris Opera House, Palais Garnier, and so this became the name of the cake. The cake contains another reference to Paris too … it is made up of Joconde (Mona Lisa) almond flavoured sponge!

The croissant

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Inherited from the Austrian bakeries that opened in Paris in the 1830s, the croissant is a Viennese pastry appreciated for its delicious buttery taste. Previously brioche in texture, it gradually came to be made with puff pastry and glazed with egg making it a legendary classic ... Today, croissants are sold alongside another French favourite the pain au chocolat – more classic in shape but equally mouth-watering!

The croque-monsieur

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Made up of two slices of bread, filled with boiled ham and béchamel and covered with a generous layer of melted cheese, this delicious sandwich is a classic that is found in brasseries and in bakeries. In 1918, the croque-monsieur entered French literature when writer Marcel Proust mentioned it in his novel A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleur! It is worth noting, when topped with a fried egg, the croque-monsieur becomes … a croque-madame.

The macaron

© Gentle Gourmet

The Parisian macaron is a delicious round-shaped creation, perfect for a tea break. Composed of two crisp shells made of ground almonds, macarons are filled with a sweet paste of classic and exotic flavours such as pistachio, chocolate, red fruits or liquorice. Top Parisian patisserie houses like Ladurée,and Pierre Hermé have contributed to their fame.

Entrecôte steak and chips

© DR

This dish dates back to the 19th century when La Villette was still a slaughterhouse. The butchers working there were fond of eating rib steak with butter and herbs. This was traditionally served with ‘Pont-Neuf potatoes’ – ancestors of chips and which, according to legend, were invented ... on the Pont-Neuf! Today, it is still a staple dish in Parisian bistros. Note: in France, there are four different cooking times for beef (very rare, rare, medium rare and well-cooked).

Parisian honey

© DR

Did you know that the most beautiful rooftops in Paris are a haven for bees? The Musée d'Orsay, the Monnaie de Paris, the Institut de France, and even the Hôtel National des Invalides are home to beehives where bees produce honey from the many species of flowers in gardens and on balconies in the capital. You can buy this delicious product from suppliers like Le miel de Paris.

Onion soup

© Ludovic Péorn via Wikimédia Commons

This rich flavoured soup of broth and caramelized onions is topped with a layer of melted grated cheese mixed with crunchy croutons. It used to be served by restaurants in the old market halls to reinvigorate the handlers and night revellers. Today, onion soup is on the menu in all good brasseries.

Parisian beers

© Natasha Kapur via Unsplash

The Parisienne, the Môme, the Charbonnière, the Baleine, the Montreuilloise ... The local beer scene has been flourishing in Paris in recent years. Some are veritable institutions, like Gallia, brewed from 1890 to 1969 and then taken over by two young entrepreneurs in 2009; others come from micro-breweries which have given a new impetus to this drink by proposing organic or new flavours. Taste them at home or in one of the many bars and restaurants serving them.

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