Monday, November 12, 2007

How to Stretch Your Dollar-Forty-Seven ($1.47) For Lunch

Part Two:

Going out to eat in France is just plain expensive. But didn't I say early on in this blog that if you had the desire to travel, you could find a way? But of course you can!

And take heart! The French, generally speaking, eat most of their meals at home. In fact, one of the most irritating things I encountered was the unwillingness of our Frenchie travel-mates to go through the McDrive on a long, grueling road trip. (I'm flashing back to a 100 degree day on the way to Paris in a Peugot, sans AC, eating Frenchie friends' pasta and mayonnaise salad---ew!--on the side of the road somewhere in the middle of the countryside which happen to have a stray picnic table for just this sort of situation.)

So, if you want to be French on your trip and save a buck-forty-seven when you can, all without losing the romance of being in France....pack a picnic!

"But I'm staying in the city!", you say. Bof! I say! The French are the most picnicking people I've seen, EVER. You can pack a little lunch find a bench in a park, or whatever your picture-perfect setting would be, and have le dejeuner.

My favorite sandwich to order in France is a jambon beurre, or ham and butter on a baguette. Sound disgusting? Yep, I thought so too the first time I accidentally ordered it. But it is delish! I promise! And so easy to make on the fly. And much cheaper to make yourself than ordering in a brasserie.

So to make one pique-nique style, go into a boucherie (butcher shop) and get a few slices of jambon (ham). I'm not a pork person, per se, but ham in France is something I eat constantly when I'm there, it is so darn good and addicting! Next head to a fromagerie (cheese shop) and peruse the hundreds of cheeses they have.

Cheese glorious cheese! (Just thinking about the cheese in France is making me want to quit writing this post and get back on Expedia to keep pricing tickets!) So you don't know what to order for cheese? Ask to gouter (taste) something and they will gladly accomodate. Or just be brave and order a couple different wedges and make sure you take note of the name of cheese for future reference. Get some butter if you wish for the beurre part of your jambon beurre.

You now need to get to the bakery and grab du pain (some bread).

And, of course, you'll need drinks, so why not grab a bottle of wine at the cave (wine store) if you drink it, or some flavored water (my favorite is Volvic Citron or Peche).
If you see an olive stand, sample some and then buy a little container. Add a bar of chocolate for dessert, or a pastry you've spotted in a window of a shop you've passed and couldn't pass up.

Find your "table" (picnic bench in a park is what I'm picturing). Rip open your bread, spread your butter, insert ham, et voila! A sandwich that cost me about $10 on the Champs-Elysees just cost you about $5 for two people, and it's probably fresher.

(Below: My $10 jambon beurre and I, somewhere on the Champs-Elysees)

(View from my jambon beurre, looking toward Arc de Triomphe.)

Of course, you can insert foodstuffs of your choice to make up your own designer picnic lunch, but this is an example of the basic things I like in my picnic basket. More importantly, you have saved a lot of Euros so that you can go to a nice restaurant for dinner that night, or lunch the next day or whatever you wish. That's the great's all about being creative and saving where you can.

So there you are. You have a romantic, dollar-friendly-meal that was fun to shop for and assemble, tastes great and has the perfect backdrop....France!

PS. I always have to have coffee after a meal. So after our picnic, we usually walk a bit to digest, and then we go to a brasserie or bistro or cafe to have our coffee. So, we have our cake and eat it too!


ShabbyInTheCity said...

That was a fun read! I'm gonna make a sandwich like that *here* soon!

La Belette Rouge said...

I, too, am not a ham lover. However, your post is so well written that you got me wanting to try it. Seeing your smile as you are about to bite into that sandwich may have pushed me over the edge. I may be searching on Expedia, too.
À bientôt,

La Belette Rouge said...

Tag, you're it!

Cris in Oregon said...

Love your photos. Especially of the cheese shop. A picnic sounds wonderful anywhere but in France even better. ;)

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Thanks Shabby! Hope you enjoy the sandwich!

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Merci beaucoup mon amie! Are you really thinking about going? :) Great! Keep me updated!!!

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Cris, thanks so much! Picnics in France are great, as long as I don't have to eat the pasta/mayonnaise dish. lol!