Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Disclusure: I’m German. While I like to be sophisticated in many respects, there are some where I’m pretty simple. Sex is one of them, food’s another. Now, I know what you’ll say: “Sure. You looove it simple. Like everyone who tries to be sophisticated.” Check out Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt’s Twitter Profile Pic, as an example.

But that’s not what I mean. I’m really simple. I don’t wear my business shirt and a tie under my loincloth. Actually, I don’t wear a loincloth at all, but an I ❤ New York T-Shirt. But I’m getting off track.

What I want to talk about is how to handle your culinary needs as a German eater in Paris.

Don’t get me wrong, I love foie gras and magret de canard, I eat my steak saignant, my canard rosé, I know where I get the best steak tartare, I’m an amateur of Ile Flottante, I can tell apart Crème Caramel and Crème Brûlé (well, okay, I don’t need bread when I eat pasta – mais passons). But sometimes I need some Sauerkraut, Rotkraut mit Kartoffelpuree, Bretzeln (that’s the REAL plural of one Bretzel), Saussages, Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat, Maultaschen, Schupfnudeln (or Buabaspitzla for amateurs), not to forget my love for Spätzle (Discloser 2: I’m Swabian), etc. to be happy.

I love Weissbeer to be brewed according to the Deutsche Reinheitsgebot, and usually call it Weizenbier, no sugar or conservatives or artificial colors add. I like my beer to come from Germany and not only alluding to my country (Bavaria) while actually being Dutch or pretending to be German while being who-knows-from-where and containing who-knows-what (Edelweiss, and Bavaria, by the way). I like beer to contain nothing but Hop, Malt, Water. There’s not much, but beer is one thing I’m chauvinistic about. It’s just, if concepts can have sex, they also can have nationality and, hell, beer is a German concept. Btw. I’m waiting for Heineken to publish a statics of how many people think it’s a German beer. Ever asked yourself why Dutch breweries give it a German name whenever they launch a new beer?

So for those who share a few of these passions and who also share my beautiful fate of living in Paris, they’ll know the trouble of importations. And I thought I’d share some of my insights with them (in English, because I still hope to convince one or the other non-german of the value of German food – Oh yes, I have a mission!).

So where to start? Sauerkraut. Who-knows-why, but the French call it choucroûte. The thing is “sauer” means “sour” in German and “chou” doesn’t. My hypothesis is that that’s why the French (even those from Strasbourg) didn’t figure out that Sauerkraut had to be sour not to taste lame. I haven’t been able to find any French brand of Sauerkraut that was actually making a sour kraut (I’m still looking, so feel free to comment here – as on anything else I’m saying or seeking, feel free to comment in German or French). In case of despair, you can buy a French sourkraut and cook it in the juice you get out of your glass of sour cornichons. I had to do it. It works okay.

The other option is this place. Well, I’m positive that there are some people who will love me for this recommendation. It’s a small shop held by a French dude, who’s a bit annoying, but who sells about everything from Germany, and sells it for high, but not undecent prices (he drives his transporter to Germany once a week and gets stuff – so you can also order). He’s got Tannenzäpfle beer, Erdinger Alkoholfrei, Becks Gold, Weihenstephaner, and everything else that it’s impossible to understand how the French can live without.

You need to go to the market behind la mairie du 10ième to get all this. And while you’re in the corner you might also go to Schmid Traiteur, 76 Boulevard de Strasbourg, to get some Bretzels. But they are not the best I know. At least they are not as dry as the American Bretzels and you can stuff butter in  (how the Alsaciens could have imported Brezeln without importing the concept of Butterbrezel is one of the great enigma of history)

Apart from that, I just discovered Bretzels can also be found here and are supposed to be amazing.

But going to the Dixième Arrondissement each time you have an urgent need for German food might be difficult. So here’s where to get stuff more easily:

Lidl. Is a German supermarket chain that pushed its way into France and is “Lidelizing Paris”, i.e. you can now find empty cheap cans of Lidl beer everywhere. Diese Bierdosen sind ein Stück Heimat, das mich an meine Schulzeit erinnert und auf das ich gerne verzichtet hätte. What CAN you do? But guess what! The Lidl beer is German beer, brewed as it should be. And it’s pretty good. Same for the beer “premier prix” at Franprix, which comes from Rheinland, Königswinter or Siegburg or so. Lidl is also one of the few places where you find decent sausages, real Wiener Würstchen. The problem with the average French sausage made for cooking it yourself (not the dry ones, they are amazing, as good as it gets in terms of sausage culture!), is that it’s uniform, it tastes the same from the surface right to the core, and that’s like…nothing.  The Wiener is, well, “cracky”. Another decdent beer is the Mosel Beer at Franprix – I like it alcohol-free too. But I think it’s of American origin.

As for Spätzle, I’ve found some of the best Spätzle I ever tasted ever, here in Paris, at Monoprix. They are fresh, which means that they are kept refrigerated, and they are often gone, because, apparently, I’m not the only one who knows about them. The funny thing is: they come from Trochtelfingen, a small village about 10 km from where I grew up, they are called Zahner Traiteur Gourmet Eierspätzle, Alb Gold just bought the company and I hope they’ll push some more of their products into Monoprix soon.

Oh and while you are at Monoprix get some cans of Paulaner Weissbier.

Oh yes! They do have it.

I also know there is a German Bar in Paris. It’s called Café Titon and is in rue … Titon. The legend goes that they have Currywurst. But I never managed to get in. For the worldcup-matches it was too crowded and in August it was closed for renovation.

Here an important cooking advice for cooking Sauerkraut:

Cook it for 10-20 minutes (according to the indications on the bag or can) with water (use some vegetable- or meat-cube to give it more taste), then take the water out and pour the Sauerkraut into a frying pan, where you’ve already prepared and fryied some onions. They don’t say it on the package, but it’s very important: you have to fry Sauerkraut to make it real tasty and mixing the Sauerkraut with onions is another important thing to do. Then you serve it with potatoes, which you can also fry in the same pan (but obviously you have to cook them before, and fry them before you put in the Sauerkraut, or else they’ll attract the water of the kraut and get soaky.

Serve it with the better kind of the French sausage if you don’t have Bratwurst. The smoked sausage (Saucisse Fumée à cuire) that’s refrigerated at Franprix is pretty good to go with it.

Enjoy!

A little update:

Things have moved a little on the German food front since I first wrote this post. There are mainly two updates : there now is a small chain of German snack bars. It’s called “Le Stube” (http://www.lestube.fr/). And there are Spätzle in the amazing Reflets de France brand at  Carrefour, which curates great regional specialites from France (Spätzle are obviously from “Alsace” for them) and at Leader Price  which recently created a brand competing with Reflets de France (couldn’t find any Spätzle at my local Franprix so far). They are not in the “Rayon Frais”, but in the past section as they are dry. They are both very good and only cost around 1 Euro. Oh, and at Dia (yes, at Dia) there is both a good variety of “Wiener Würstchen” and a very tasty Schwarzwälder Schinken (Jambon cru de la Forêt Noire). As Schwarzwald is a Domain d’Origine Protégé, the Schinken really comes from the Black Forest.

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