There is no question that we would all love to live the dream life of a Parisian, stopping off daily at the butcher, the cheese shop, the produce store, outdoor markets etc., smiles on our faces, picking up our supplies for dinner or a Sunday lunch, however, the reality of food shopping in Paris can take some time to get used to.
That is why we are pleased to announce the first installation to our Paris Food Shopping Guides. With these guides we will take a focus on specific products, stores, markets, and more in hopes of helping you, our loyal reader, with your shopping stress. Paris is a delicious city, let us help you enjoy it!
As an avid baker, it took me years of importing baking soda and brown sugar before I finally was able to shop for everything I needed, more or less, at my local Monoprix. Here are some helpful translations and tips for all of your baking needs:
Sucre en Poudre is your classic granulated sugar, not to be confused with powdered or icing sugar which is called Sucre Glacé.
To replace brown sugar, a necessity in American cookie recipes, look for Sucre Vergeoise which comes in both light (blonde) or dark (brune). Cassonade is raw cane sugar (not brown sugar) that is delicious in coffee and baking as well.
Flour, of farine, in France is labelled by “type” which can be confusing for people who are used to just picking up some “all-purpose” flour. Below is a basic conversion for most of your baking needs:
Type 55 – Standard All-Purpose and Bread flour
Type 65 – High Gluten Flour
Type 110 – Whole Wheat Flour
Bicarbonate is usually found near the salt in super markets and is your easiest substitute for baking soda. Not all supermarkets will carry it, however. You can also ask for Bicarbonate de Soudre in most pharmacies. You will not find it on the shelf, so just ask the pharmacist.
Levure Chimique is your equivalent to single-acting baking powder mainly for cakes and pastries
Levure de Boulangerie is your standard yeast and is found by the flour and baking products. It comes in fast-acting form (action express) as well. If you are looking for fresh yeast, you can ask your local boulanger if they would sell you some yeast.
You can easily find American corn syrup at Le Grand Epicerie at Le Bon Marché but this tends to be very expensive. An alternative is to find it in some Korean stores like Ace Mart and Kmart on Rue St. Anne or Tang Frères (48, avenue d’Ivry, 13th).
Some larger grocery stores sell Lait Ribot from Brittany or Lait Fermenté, an Arabic fermented milk. The latter can also be found in some Arabic food stores. Both of these are perfect for recipes calling for buttermilk.
Your best bet for cornmeal, like what is used to make cornbread, is to head up to Belleville or the Marché d’Aligre to the ethnic stores there. Many natural food stores like Biocoop or Naturalia sell it as well. You would be looking for farine de maïs which is a fine corn flour, or semoule de maïs which is a coarser flour.
If you are in search of America’s favorite Jelly companion, you have probably noticed that you can find some brands, like Skippy, in your local grocery store in small containers and for high prices. If you are in search of natural sugar-free peanut butter, this can be found at most natural food stores under beurre or purée de cacahuete under the Jean Hervé label.
You can find Mélasse at most natural food stores but it tends to be very strong, unrefined and sulfured. We recommend halving it with honey for most recipes unless you are looking for a strong molasses flavor.
Recently, Philadelphia-brand cream cheese has popped up in some supermarkets throughout Paris which is making cheesecake-bakers jump for joy. If you would prefer the local, and cheaper, version, however, you can use pâte à tartiner, which you can find in the supermarket under the St. Môret label. As St. Môret has slightly more liquid in it, I often half it with Kiri squares when making cheesecake.
The easiest, and sometimes the most delicious, is to simply chop up chunks of a chocolate bar. Finding your classic chocolate chips in a French supermarket is next to impossible, however, specialty expat stores as well as Le Grand Epicerie sell them and professional baking supply shops like G. Detou (58 rue Tiquetonne, 2nd) and Metro sell them as well.
Please let us know if there is anything that you think should be added to this list or if there are still baking supply questions that you still need answered.
Until next time, happy baking!