Thirty Euros? For a few chunks of ham? That seems a bit high. The man in the jaunty suede jacket and the casually woven scarf stroked his chin and pondered the situation. There are, after all, starving people in Africa. How can one justify a 30-Euro bite of ham? And without a flinch, the packet of 30-Euro ham went into the grocery cart, a la Mary Tyler Moore in the opening credits of her 1970?s TV show. A rolling of the eyes. The onward movement of the shopping cart.
The man in the jaunty suede jacket and the casually woven scarf was me, and I had just arrived at La Grande Epicerie de Paris ? the gourmet food hall adjacent to the Bon Marché department store in the 7th, (metro Sevres-Babylone).
In addition to the foie gras, fleur de sel, tarama, Camembert cheese, Bordier butter, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and the like, I bought three gorgeous lamb chops at the butcher department. (The butcher deftly and swiftly removed the fat and hacked off the extra bone.) And they cost less than 6 Euros (about $8). Meat is a bargain in France. Those lamb chops in the U.S. would have cost at least $15 in a grocery store and $35 at a decent restaurant. Meat, cheese, wine and dog food are all bargains in France. (They do love their dogs here. Hence, the price of dog food is absurdly low compared to the U.S.)
I brought those lamb chops home and marinated them in mustard, olive oil and a pinch of ground herbs de Provence. Then, I sautéed them in a hot skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil for about a minute and a half per side to render them medium rare. Served with some gooey mashed potatoes the consistency of Elmer?s glue and a salad of mesclun, lardons (bacon ?matchsticks?), radishes & cherry tomatoes in a homemade vinaigrette, well, it was a splendid meal that cost a fraction of what I?d have spent in a restaurant. Economizing in France can be fun and delicious.
La Grande Epicerie de Paris,38, rue de Sevres,75007 Paris, M°Sevres-Babylone