Channel Your Inner Parisian: Buy Local Food, Savor It, Drink Good Wine

Paris is a stunning city. The architecture is amazing, with such famous structures as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe; the art is overwhelmingly beautiful, with more museums than a person could possibly desire; and the food is absolutely to die for, with patisseries and cheese shops scattering the city. It is a place that, in my opinion, everybody should have the pleasure of exploring at least once.

Croque MadameCroque MadameLast week, I took to the skies armed with high expectations of my first visit to Paris. I saw art at the Louvre and the Museum D’Orsay, climbed up the Eiffel Tower, ate my weight in chocolate croissants and macarons, and wandered the streets taking in French culture (and getting lost). One of my favorite parts of the trip was experiencing Parisians passion and respect for good food.

I couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming number of bakeries, cheese shops, butcheries, and specialty food stores that lined every block. The neighborhood in which I was staying also held a huge farmers' market three times a week. It featured fresh seafood, seasonal fruits and vegetables, spices, nuts, and dairy, among hundreds of other items. The food stores and the markets were always buzzing with crowds.

French culture exuded the ideals of Simple, Good, and Tasty, it seemed. Because so many Parisian kitchens are absolutely miniscule, people can only buy enough food for the next one or two days—and why wouldn’t they? With a farmers' market nearby multiple times a week, and with some of the best food stores in the world right outside your door, there’s no need to stock up on groceries. You can simply cook with the ingredients that are fresh that morning.

Picnic in the parkPicnic in the parkAdditionally, French culture demands that eaters spend more time savoring their food. Meals often take more than an hour, allowing people to not only enjoy the food, but also the atmosphere and company. Take, for example, one of my dining out experiences. We started with an aperitif of kir and champagne; munched on marinated olives, roasted peanuts, and sliced baguettes; enjoyed the main course of fresh seafood pasta and traditional duck cassoulet with a few glasses of Cotes du Rhone; and then passed on dessert for the sake of our nearly exploding stomachs -- instead we sipped on calvados for an hour or so in order to catch up. It was a perfect night and yet, all we did was enjoy a meal. Why don't we do this more often in the U.S.?

And so, this week I challenge you to channel your inner Parisian, if just in a small way. Take the time to make a homemade meal using local and seasonal ingredients when you can. Invite others over or go out to share a meal, making a point not to rush. Visit a specialty cheese shop or your local farmers' market. Or, if none of these things seem possible this week, at least enjoy a glass (or two) of good red wine and relax.


Katy Radtke is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Growing up in a foodie family spurred her love for cooking (and eating!) tasty food, while her time in Madison has prompted her deep passion for the sustainable and local food movement. When Katy isn’t baking up one of her famous pies, she enjoys doing yoga, perusing one of Madison’s many farmer’s markets, drinking tea at the coffee shop around the corner, and traveling. You can see more of Katy’s work on her blog, A Blissful Bite.