France – where vegetarianism meets the world’s most sophisticated cuisine, or not.

After England I have moved to France where I must say, being vegetarian is a much more difficult task than in England.

First of all in France there aren’t so many conceptual eating places as in England. You can find Boulangeries where you will get a sandwich or a salad, but be prepared to be left with very little choice. Elaborate vegetarian sandwiches are not common and you will most surely end up with a cheese sandwich or the inevitable tomato-mozzarella sandwich. Not too rejoicing on a regular basis.

As for the salads, and this is the case for most high street restaurants, there is a strong probability that the most yummy looking ones will contain ham, lard, duck, etc. Therefore on a night out with your friends, if going to a mainstream restaurant, there are slim chances that you will enjoy the food as much as them. It does get frustrating, especially if you want cheap comfort food and decide to go to a traditional Brasserie. You will be frustrated.

Besides, if you were wondering, fast foods, contrarily to England never propose vegetarian meals. I have never in my life found a vegetarian burger, not that I am particularly desperate to eat in fast foods.

Traditional restaurants with proper French cuisine are also a difficult landscape as most French food dishes are elaborate and sophisticated combinations of a meat, a sauce and a side. If it’s not meat it’s fish. But trust me there are way too many ways to cook way too many different types of meat to exhaust our chefs’ imagination. C’est la haute cuisine!

Again you can always eat Oriental or Asian food, (and there’ always Italian food that saves our lives almost all the time) but in terms of French food, be prepared to eat a salad. And a boring one. Yes, it’s sad.

But cheer up, there are places where you can eat vegetarian and here is my favourite:

Chez Marianne, in the Marais in Paris.

This is a great restaurant to go with friends or with a date to share a massive platter of mezze. The menu is composed  of oriental mezze and it’s all kosher. It is yummy. And yes, you will bite off more than you can chew.

I also need to suggest you a few traditional French recipes that do happen to be vegetarian, and amongst my favourite. The said delights are Ratatouille (it’s not only a movie but also a meal) but a southern dish made from all sorts of vegetables and cooked for in herbs and olive oil.

And Gratin Dauphinois (Dauphinois as in Dauphin, which means Prince, as in son of the King. Understand food for French royals) a potato and cream based dish. Royal Comfort Food.

But all in all, I am slightly disappointed in my home country. The veggies aren’t all that happy down here …

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3 Responses to France – where vegetarianism meets the world’s most sophisticated cuisine, or not.

  1. phildange says:

    Pardon me lady, just a pedant precision : gratin dauphinois is called so because its origin comes from Dauphiné, which is a region of France, one of those unfortunate regions where they have to dive everything into cheese because they are not poultry areas (the most refined French cuisine comes from the two main poultry areas, south-west and Lyons zone, where the highest wines come from too -Bordeaux and Bourgogne ) .
    Dauphiné got its name from the Dauphin, the King’s elder son, but the gratin itself got its name from the place . Well good luck for your quest . Many Indian restaurants will serve you vegetarian stuff by the way but to me the best way is to eat the traditional soup from the south-west, called the “garbure”. It’s a meal by itself, purely veg and so good . And don’t forget the mushroons, the famous “cèpe de Bordeaux”, the king of its race .

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