Le Fromager

A few weeks ago after yoga class, I realized that it was 6pm on a Friday and that I had absolutely zero plans.

I'm usually pretty okay with spending time with just myself, so this revelation didn't throw off my entire weekend happiness.  However, I figured I had better come up with something to do with myself - something to look forward to once I got home.

Across the street, at Maubert Mutualité metro stop, was an entire place full of boulanger, fromager, boucher, and cave à vins - France's version of the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick-maker turned wine and cheese aficionado.  So, I walked across the street to see what kind of feast I could gather for myself.

My attention was immediately pulled to the fromage - oh the fromage! the billions of choices! Yes, I definitely needed some fromage. and wine. and bread. and Sex and the City the movie. parfait.

I walked up to the fromager and realized that I had no idea what I was doing. Do I wait in the line? But then how do I know what I want to order? Can I walk around the tiny store to look at the choices first? Or will people think I'm cutting in line? I poked my head in to get a better look - 25 Euros per kilo for Roquefort?!!! How much for just a slice? How will I know how much to order? 

The complexity of the situation was just too much to handle. I ran back to the other side of the street, got a red-bean Thai bubble tea that I soon learned tastes like paste, and walked home, defeated.

EIGHT years in France and I can't figure out the stupid fromager?! What is this mess? I decided that I absolutely had to make it my mission to go to the fromager and confidently order cheese - no matter the cost.

I had my moment this weekend. Again, Friday night, I found myself without plans, walking home from errands in town (ps - what is my deal with Friday and no plans? I am thirty and childless n'est pas?). Copain had lots of work and wouldn't be home until late. Okay Self, time for fromage!  First I went to the boulanger and got some pain de compagne, sliced. Then I went to the cave and got a nice bottle of red, just for me. Finally, I gave myself a little pep talk and got in line at the fromager. 

This fromager was smaller and happened to have a window-display of cheese to choose from where patrons waited in line - a sort of fromager with training-wheels, for newbies like me.  There was no need to poke my head into the store and risk being called a line-cutter. While normally the time spent in lines en France drives me absolutely mad, this time I was happy to have ten minutes to think about my order (and my budget). 

Cabri Feuille - is that chèvre? yes, I definitely need chèvre. And it's sold individually, so I know it will only cost 5.95 Euros. Okay done. One Cabri Feuille.

Brebis - yes some of that too...also sold individually, no price guessing game to play. One of those for 6.80 Euros. 

...and I should probably also get a slice of one of those gigantic cheeses on the back shelf, but which one?  I thought back to my babysitting days when 8-year old Marine would cut off a big slice of Manchego for her after-school gouter (snack).  If it works for Marine, it should work for me too, right? Okay, yes, one slice of Manchego. 

Finally, it was my turn. I ordered my Cabri and Brebis, and then asked for a slice of Manchego (did I imagine it, or did the fromager snicker when I ordered that?). I told her that I wanted a small piece, as it was listed at 27.95 Euros the kilo! I had no idea what to expect, but I figured that I was practicing good risk-management by choosing two other cheeses at fixed prices - I could only really screw up one of my orders right? I mean, what on earth does a kilo of cheese look like?

The fromager rang me up and announced that I owed a whopping 17.64 Euros. Ouf.  

I paid her, walked home, and hiked up five flights of stairs to my Parisian pigeon-hole. 

Then, I admired my work:

I poured myself a glass of wine (in my new Hema wine glass!), made a fresh salad with noix de cajou (cashews), placed two pieces of bread on my plate, and carefully sliced off a chunk of each cheese. Then I added some pears from the marché for good measure. 

Maybe it was because spending 17 Euros on cheese was unfathomable, maybe it was because I had no idea what I was doing - or maybe it was a combination of both, but I can't really believe that it took me this long to conquer the French fromager.

I can now tell you with confidence that Manchego is very salty - and after a quick Google search, Spanish, that I prefer Brebis that is has more of a kick, and that chèvre is always the way to my heart.  Next up - Saint Nectaire, Roquefort and the classic, Camembert

French Cannes Cannes has conquered the fromager.  How you like them apples?


  1. Love. your. stories. Seriuosly, I want an FCC show to watch.

  2. hahaha! Copain would never agree!


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