What is it about France, that makes the culture here so authentic? We think that it’s something that’s hidden in the local traditions, passed on generation to generation. Take the Sunday family meal, for example. A beautiful event that starts with an important step: a visit to the market, whose colourful offer looks and smells divine. Join us on a tour?
First stop: Marché d’Aligre
Some practical information first: it is located in the 12th arrondissement, between the metro stops of Ledru Rollin and Faidherbe-Chaligny. Opening hours are 9 A.M. to 1 P.M. every day except Monday. Weekends are perfect for a total hustle-and-bustle immersion, but if you prefer a more leisurely stroll try to get here on a weekday. Prices are reasonable, with potential discounts towards the end of trading hours. And we kid you not when we say that you can find absolutely anything here!
Roughly speaking, the market is divided into 3 distinct parts. First, there are the fruits and vegetables stalls, displaying local and imported goodies. Then there is the covered “Beauvais” part, which houses the meat, fish and dairy products stands. Finally, right in the heart of the bustling lanes, sits the Aligre Square, which doubles as a flea market, where you can find anything from an antique book to a fur coat from the 1950’s.
Look out for the many small boutiques too, which stock some top specialities:
- Algerian pastries at “Café Amira”, which will be to your right as you walk down the Aligre street
- The best olives baguette in the boulangerie just next to “Café Amira”
- The famous Parisian meringues at “Aux Merveilleux de Fred”
Don’t be afraid to come hungry, there are many stops where you can refuel before getting on with your shopping list or sitting down with your bags before you hit the road back home. Here are 2 top suggestions:
- “Le 138”, a café with a cosy interior, a nice terrace, plus desserts and coffee to die for! Located just before the main entrance.
- “Le Pain au Naturel”, the perfect people-watching spot.
Second stop: Marché des Enfants Rouges
Nestled in the always trending Haut Marais neighbourhood (metro stop Filles du Calvaire or Arts et Métiers), this covered Parisian market is counting its fourth century. We like to come here for many reasons: fresh produce, fresh peonies, and freshly cooked food from a wide selection of cuisines. In the relatively small space you can choose between an Italian, a Japanese, a Lebanese, or a Moroccan meal. There are also vegan stands and street-food style vendors. Closed Monday.
If we had to pick just one spot to try here, it would be the traiteur marocain, who is easily identifiable via the colourful tables, decorated with the traditional mosaic patterns. Our suggestion for a great order: tajine, a traditional Maghreb dish made with meat and vegetables, served with couscous in a claypot (you can ask for a vegetarian option). For dessert there is a variety baklava options and the famous moroccan mint tea. The average bill is €15-20, including dessert for €1. This place in particular is open everyday except Monday and Sunday afternoon.
The tasty part
If all of this has not gotten you running for the markets, here’s one more reason: take the chance to shop for fresh ingredients to cook your very own quiche! Of course there’s the classic Quiche Lorraine with bacon and onions toppings, but we wanted to share 3 alternatives.
- Let’s talk dough first and be frank about it. Yes, we could make it ourselves, but we cheat and buy the ready made supermarket option. Preheat the oven to 200C and bake the dough for around 10 to 15 minutes in a special pie pan. Don’t forget to puncture the dough base with a toothpick or a fork
- For the sauce (which is always the same no matter the choice of topping ingredients), you will need to mix 3 eggs, 20 ml of sour cream and the same quantity of milk. You can replace the sour cream with fat cream. Add some salt and pepper and mix it all.
- And finally the most exciting part – the toppings! Feel free to experiment yourself or choose any of our tried-and-loved options:
- Goat cheese + tomatoes: cut the tomatoes and the goat cheese into big slices and arrange across the plastered dough. Hint: for some extra taste, brush on some grainy old-fashioned mustard first.
- Salmon + broccoli (or spinach): Boil the broccoli first and once cooked, arrange onto the dough. Add the cut salmon pieces on top. Pour over the sauce and add any thick grated cheese – Gruyère, for example.
- Chicken + mushrooms: Cut chicken and mushrooms into small pieces and fry until just soft. Arrange on the dough and pour over the sauce. Add some grated cheese if you wish.
- Leek + Camembert cheese (or Parmesan): cut the leeks into rings and fry in oil for about 5 to 7 minutes. Spread the leeks on the dough and pour over the sauce. You can add some Camembert or Parmesan cheese, but the leek rings, given their strong taste, can put on a good show even if left on their own!
Once your ingredients are ready, pour the sauce over it and reduce the oven temperature to 180C. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
A quiche is a life saver that can be served at almost any occasion: a family dinner, a friendly get-together, a picnic, or your office meal in a lunch box! Enjoy!
Text/photos : Anya