After a difficult day, you need comfort. After a day where you’ve confused Rue Montmartre with Boulevard Montmartre, received the wrong order for lunch because of a mispronounced vowel, and had that typical grey af Parisian day, the only cure, I think, is like Dorothy once said, home. Home is true comfort.
I’ve written before that ‘Living Abroad’ and ‘Homesickness’ are topics I’d like to address sans alcohol, because ego aside, drinking isn’t the antidote to feeling down. Food, however, is another story.
In France, it’s crazy hard to find a lot of the essential products for American snacks. But with luck, it’s possible. My aim with this post is to help any American and really anyone who’s searching for an ingredient in Paris.
Ps. I’d like this to be an open list, so if you have things you’d like me to add, pls comment below!
Cream Cheese —> St. Moret
Supermarkets (Monop’, Franprix, Carrefour City)
In New York, I had the weekend routine of eating an everything bagel with cream cheese, chili flakes, olive oil and a slice of tomato. Bagels aren’t exactly a French thing, but I thought Cream Cheese would still be great with a fresh, piping hot sesame baguette. France slapped me down, ‘stupid American.’ I couldn’t find cream cheese anywhere, so I thought I’d throw some chèvre on it.
Chèvre is unspreadable. It clumps together in globs of delicious cheese. Not ideal!
Months later, I was at a picnic and someone brought St. Moret and it was revelatory. Aka its France’s superior version of Philadelphia.
You can find it in most major stores in the cheese aisle.
Cheddar —> Mimolette
Supermarkets (Monop, Franprix, Carrefour City)
This sneaky, sneaky cheese can be found dressed up with this fancy name in most major supermarkets. Mimolette is from the North of France, but tastes like it’s from Wisconsin.
Peanut Butter: Jif Style
Cometeshop or Citadium
This is a purely American product, meaning there’s no chance you find it in French stores. That being said, if you’re craving some sugary ass PB for a decadent PBJ or waffles or banana pancakes, you’ll have to go to the specialty American dealers.
Peanut Butter: Trader Joe’s Style —Pureé de Cacahuètte
For the most part, French people don’t like Peanut butter—but a flock of open-minded, granola mf’s have managed to push natural PB to stores like Naturalia and certain Bio sections.
Chilli Flakes — Flocons de Piment
Mark & Spencer
Thank you, Mark and Spencer, the GB based supermarket for having an alternative selection of spices. Along with curry ingredients, naan, and crumpets, they have my favorite, and most OP spice—chili flakes.
This is the only surefire method, otherwise, select Italian trattoria’s carry them, and Chinese Markets carry whole dried pimentos.
On the Healthy Side
Biocoop, Bio C Bon (Rare)
Known as Chou Vert Frisé, (Frizzy green cabbage) Kale is a tough find in Paris. TJ’s had boatloads of Kale, but I guess they haven’t shipped to this side of the Atlantic.
I’ve found it at Bio C Bon, but only on rare occasion, and at Biocoop as well.
Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar –> Umberti
Bio C’ Bon
Bio C’ Bon never fails, and although it costs LV prices, Apple Cider Vinegar is the truth.
K-Mart or Traiteur Asiatique
Normally you can find chives at the supermarket, but for stir-fries and omelets, there’s no replacing scallions. K-mart and other Asian markets are sure to have them.
Frozen Fruits for Smoothies
Three words—Picard’s got em!
409 Spray—St. Marks
You’ve spilled coffee and need cleaning supplies.
Q: Which brand can you trust?
A: St. Marks is that all-purpose cleaner with a hint of citrus that you’re looking for.
Bbq Sauce and Honey Mustard
You’re only likely to find one of these bedrocks of American cuisine where you can find the other. My little American market and Cometeshop are your best bets.
Essential for my friends and I back home, but I understand, not everyone has warmed up to the Thai Chili sauce. For this and the next one, search for Traiteur Asiatique or Traiteur Exotique and head to the nearest one.
This beautiful Vietnamese BBQ sauce can be found with the same method.
In terms of pasta, you can do plenty better in France, but if Rummo is your MO like me, Monoprix is the place. For some reason, Carrefour only carries Barilla.