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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Advice: American Eating in France

Cooking is something I do every day, rarely making the whole frozen meal/highly sugarized processed foods- I make everything from scratch and fresh ingredients.  In France however, there are some key things to know that could help a person moving here in the whole 'ingredient' and food world:

  • Steak.  When ordering or making steak remember this:
    • A point:  Medium, Bien Cuite:  well cooked, Bleue:  blue, or rare
  • At a restaurant, opt for the 'pot du vin', which is often 5x cheaper than bottled and just as good.
  • Garni is the sprinkling of parsley, garniture is the lay out of ingredients.
  • Producer's Market offers restaurant quality produce for cheap.
  • Pastry Flour is most commonly used for baking, and it is amazing for anyone who says they cannot bake.
  • There are several different variety of potatoes for different dishes, be aware the French know this difference.
  • Never act 'American' when invited; meaning don't consistently ask what the food is and turn your nose up at it.  Just shut up and eat... smile and graciously thank the hostess.
  • Rice, coconut milk is 5x cheaper in Guillotiere.
  • Pate and Foie Gras are never eaten spread on crackers.  We always eat these with bread or for Foie Gras with toasted brioche.
  • When making toast, always touch everyone's glass while making eye contact.
  • Spices are more widely available in Guillotiere, ranging from Indian to Asian.
  • Kebab is a great afternoon filler if hungry, and often cheaper than MacDo.
  • Sushi is notoriously expensive in France and normally is just several variations on salmon nigiris and rolls.  To save money try Groupon to get discounts on Sushi joints. Some sushi joints:
    • Ze Sushi - 7 Rue du Confort, Lyon;  14 euro for 11 pieces during 'midi'.
    • Sushi Wa - 31 Rue Thomassin;  4 plates for 16 euro
    • O'Sushi - 72 rue Mercière;  between 5-9 euro for a plate of sushi
Rumors of things that don't exist, but do, or replacements for things we love:
  • Baking Powder - exists, it's called 'Levure de Chimique' and it comes in 1 1/2 tsp packets in super markets.
  • Baking Soda - also exists, can be found in Guillitiere super markets.
  • Cornbread Mix - does not exist, but you can make it homemade, '2 cups flour, 1/2 tbsp salt, 1/4 cup baking powder, 1/2 cup french butter, 2 cups cornmeal, blend'.  Remember that cornmeal is available in Badouhrian or any Asian or Arabic grocery in Guillotiere.
  • Pancake Mix - does not exist, but again homemade is easy, '2 cups flour, some butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/8 cup baking powder'  blend with milk/eggs.
  • Popcorn - Available at most super markets for 1.50 a package, (about 300g) or from Producer's Market for 1.30 a kilo!
  • Sour Cream - does not exist, but a great replacement is '1 pot yaourt, 1 tsp salt and some chives, mix well'.  Plus it's lower in fat.
  • Taco Seasoning - 1 tsp 'piment en poudre', 1/4 tsp 'ail en poudre', 1/4 tsp 'oignon en poudre', 1/4 tsp 'piment du pizza', 1/4 tsp 'origan', 1/2 tsp 'paprika douce', 1 1/2 tsp 'garam masala' or 'cumin', 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper.  Mix and seal in a jar.
  • Tortillas can be made super easy at the house, '2 cups flour, 125 g butter, 1/2 to 1 cup warm water, some baking powder' blend thoroughly and set aside for about 20 minutes.  Cook on a hot pan for a few seconds each side (roll into balls and press first)
For more extensive listings.. although slightly outdated- check Lyon Eats.


  1. A couple of comments - it might be a Lyon-specific thing, but elsewhere in France, you ask for "un pichet de vin". If you want 25cL you can also ask for "un quart de blanc/rouge/rosé or "un demi de blanc/rouge/rosé" if you want 50cL. I definitely agree though, it's a great way to avoid paying a lot for a decent glass of wine!

    Also, pancake mix is available in most supermarkets now - Lidl, Franprix & Monoprix all have their own brand. It's usually in the baking aisle, next to the other pre-made mixes.

    I use crème fraiche as a substitute for sour cream. If you absolutely need that tangy taste, you can stir in 1Tb of lemon juice to your crème fraiche and let it sit for 20min or so.

    For Taco Seasoning, I use "spécial Tex-Mex" spice mix I bought at Monoprix - it's actually not that bad.

    And of course if you don't have time to make your own, tortillas can be found at most supermarket in the foreign food aisle - though corn ones are sometimes a bit harder to find! :)

  2. Yes but in regards to pancake mix it's ridiculously expensive; making it at home is cheaper and tastes way better.

    As for the crème fraiche, I was using that... but the fat content is so high I found that using lemon juice and salt into a 'yaourt nature' gives the same flavor and way less fat content.

    Taco seasoning is just too easy to blend to buy it.. but they do offer 'texmex' blend at Carrefour in Part-Dieu for only €1.

    Tortillas are way to expensive for a student like me! But another replacement is actually the flatbreads offered in Bahdourian in Guillotière.

  3. I agree -homemade substitutes are often better & tastier! Was just trying to point out that most of the stuff that Americans miss is actually available in France now (or at least an equivalent)- you just need to know where to look for it!

    Things are so much easier for expats nowadays - when I moved here 7 years ago (and was a poor student myself *S*), there were very little foreign foods, but a lot of advances have been made since then. :)


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