10 Things You Need in Your Kitchen According to Parisians

“Dieting,” or, in other words, forgoing foods typically meant for enjoyment out of concern for one’s weight, is one of the strict taboos for Parisians, along with wearing workout clothes in public and saying no to a glass of wine.

Despite the aversion to restrictive eating (and nationwide cuisine famous for its use of butter, cheese, and fatty meats), obesity and obesity-related diseases or health complications are extremely rare in France. This French Diet paradox has left scientists baffled for years. Maybe it’s simply their je-ne-sais-quoi mindset, or maybe we should take a closer look at what they’re actually eating.

The key to French cooking lies in the simplicity of the ingredients. Parisians rarely stray from cooking with their basics, and the inside of their fridges always look the same. Meals are flavorful because of their full-fat dairy and fresh-out-the-oven bread, and consist of effortlessly small proportions that are filling because of the wholeness of their ingredients.

Instead of heating up a low-cal frozen dinner from the grocery store, a busy Parisian puts together a simple meal using a few ingredients that are from the boulangerie down the street or the marché that’s on her way home from work. Parisians seem to possess the secrets to all our weight loss dreams; their foods are whole and their waists are slim.

To start your own French Diet, here are the ten crucial items that Parisians always have in their kitchen, certainement.

 

1. Egg cartons are always full (and are stored on the countertop or window sill).

It is important to never clutter the small, Parisian refrigerator with eggs. Because of the sanitation process in Europe, eggs don’t need to be refrigerated (important to note: the sanitation process in the U.S. does require eggs to be refrigerated. If you’re in the United States, save some room for eggs amongst the open wine bottles and cheese!). In contrast to American brunches made up of Benedicts and omelettes, you’d rarely find a Parisian eating eggs for breakfast. Instead, it is the basis for lunch and dinner, whether it’s hardboiled and sliced with cheese and mayonnaise in a sandwich, or fried and eaten with veggies for a quick dinner.

 

2. At least one baguette is always out on the table.

If you’re a real Parisian, you’ll know to ask for tradition baguette at the boulangerie, which, for some reason, is always crisper and fresher than the regular baguettes. It goes without saying that the only bread a Parisian would ever eat was made the day she buys it. To Parisians, it is a ridiculous idea to think that bread would ever be bought processed or sliced.

 

Source: Zak Studio

 

3. Dijon Mustard is the simplest secret to all the Parisian’s taste cravings.

It is easily spread on a slice of baguette for a zesty snack or mixed with olive oil for a salad dressing that even makes lettuce taste delicious.

 

4. Which brings us to olive oil, which is of course used for cooking and baking but is also dabbed on skin for a glowing look.

Olive oil happens to be loaded with heart-healthy fats, but what Parisians care about most is that it tastes great in all their food and can be used to fix many cooking woes.

 

 

5. Fromage needs little introduction when discussing a Parisian diet.

Walking down any street in Paris will make you understand how seriously they take their cheese. Fromageries are all over Paris, and each have a serious selection of the best cheeses you probably will ever eat. Different cheeses are eaten for different meals and Parisians know what cheeses to pair with what food and what wine. Learning how to eat and pair cheese is as important as learning your ABCs.

 

6. Butter is important to the French Diet, because it is in basically everything: sauces, meats, croissants, desserts.

Even if you don’t think you could taste the little smear of butter on a loaded sandwich, somehow it just tastes better when there’s butter in it than when there’s not. Of course, it is always full-fat and used in small (but crucial) proportions.

 

7. Wine is always on hand.

Parisians know it is the key to a successful dinner party or as the ingredient that makes a simple Coq au Vin recipe taste gourmet. In France, wine is an important tool, used to enjoy and enrich life. Use wine to enhance flavors in your cooking, and have a glass or two while you cook too.

 

 

8. Yogurt is kept in small, glass containers lining the fridge, and is rarely processed or flavored beyond vanilla.

You can taste the difference between French and American yogurt because French yogurt is always full-fat and creamy. It makes a quick breakfast or a delicious dessert.

 

9. Tea is a Parisian favorite at home.

At restaurants, they typically opt for an espresso or cappuccino, but tea is always stocked in their kitchen for first thing in the morning or to warm up after getting home from work when the weather is froid. They drink tea from a bowl rather than what Americans think of as mugs. Mugs in France resemble bowls with small handles that only your pinky finger could fit in when cupping the mug. Tea can be taken plain or with sugar, but rarely ever with milk. The preferred way to drink tea is dipping in a piece of toast with apricot jam.

 

10. Dessert is always stocked in a Parisian kitchen, and never comes with guilt.

Since meals are not just means of survival, but for enjoyment and the most important social time of the day, a palette cleanser after dinner is just as important as the dinner itself. Restaurants and dinner parties will offer a cheese plate course before a soufflé chocolat or crème brûlée, but for quiet dinners at home, a simple homemade tart or yogurt with sugar does the trick.

 

 

Parisians take their cooking and kitchens very seriously. They choose easy, simple, whole, and delicious meals that are so good they make them over and over again, and dedicate each bite to the simple act of enjoying it. Maybe this is the quoi in their je-ne-sais-quoi.

 

What tips have you picked up from Parisians? Which of these rules are you most excited to implement in your own kitchen?

 

This article was originally published on June 13, 2017.

  • I spent a week in Paris, and after only a few days it was obvious why they had a much healthier lifestyle than some other countries. The food we ate was always fresh, and delicious, and although it may have been a salad or a steak, it was full of flavour and at the end of the meal you were so much more content with your meal than if you’d have a burger, or a pizza. Quality over quantity, basically!
    I miss Paris 🙁

    xx Bry Jaimea || https://bryjaimea.com

  • Henrí

    Best omelette I ever had, and I don’t even like omlettes

  • Ray

    Mmmm… baguettes and croissants are my favorite. I need to go get me some speaking of which.

    http://www.underaytedray.co.uk

  • Ellie

    Heads up – the reason Europeans don’t refrigerate their eggs is because they don’t go through the same sanitation process that eggs in the US do. In the US, eggs are immediately cleaned in a process that removes a layer around the egg that prevents it from being porous. That natural layer keeps bad bacteria out, and since American eggs don’t have that layer, we have to refrigerate them. In Europe, this process isn’t done (the chickens are vaccinated instead), so they don’t have to refrigerate the eggs.

    Europe is great, but we have to keep our eggs in the fridge!

    Source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/09/11/336330502/why-the-u-s-chills-its-eggs-and-most-of-the-world-doesnt

    • Emma Helen

      I didn’t know that, thanks for sharing Ellie! That explains why US egg shells are always white, right? I never knew until now.
      Going to Paris this Thursday, can’t wait! Us Irish have the best butter though 😉

      http://www.travelstylefood.com

      • Actually, not all US egg shells are white. We have brown ones, too. Just depends on the breed of chicken. 🙂 (I grew up on a farm.) Have fun in Paris!!, Emma!
        (And you’re right, you Irish do have the best butter!)
        Xx

  • This was lovely! Great tips and tricks!

    I hope you have a lovely Tuesday,
    Michael
    https://www.mileinmyglasses.co.uk

  • As a Parisian I was curious to see what these top 10 products would be. Except for the baguette which is usually organic classic style bread (lasts longer and is more tasty for me), this list is accurate.
    Yogurt are homemade at home, and homemade yogurts / bread and jam are a big thing here in France and even in Paris where flats are quite small.
    Great post!

  • Taste of France

    Eggs need to be refrigerated in the U.S. because they are washed to remove bacteria, which also removes the shell’s cuticle that keeps them fresh. In Europe, eggs aren’t washed, so the cuticle is intact and keeps the eggs fresh without refrigeration, at least for a couple of weeks.
    I think you mean “tradition” baguette, rather than “traduction.”The reason tradition (or campagne or l’ancienne) tastes better is because it’s made differently, kind of like sour dough.
    The French do enjoy their desserts but they don’t have dessert daily. It’s for weekends, at the most.

  • I lived in Paris for four months during university, I would say we learned to always have bottles of wine on hand and chocolate =o) Also fresh baguettes daily =o)

    https://dreamofadventures.com/

  • You also can’t understate the amount Parisians walk! And the same can be said for Londoners or New Yorkers. Using public transit = more steps naturally.

    Walking aside – the butter trick in sandwiches is a game changer.

  • Kati Boldt

    i thouroughly enjoyed my 2 week stay in France in 2006! My diet basically included baguettes, cheese and nutella. yes please!

  • The sitting and eating versus eating ‘on the run’ is also important.

  • Meg Rydson

    So well written! I love these points and may have to implement them in my home!

  • Laura Alvarado

    Would definitely say that these are accurate, having spent some time in Paris myself! Great read.

  • I definitely follow some of these rules – specifically, the butter, Dijon mustard, tea, and dessert ones! I don’t actually drink alcohol, so no wine for me, and it’s extremely rare when I taste yogurt or cheese (not a fan), and I also abstain from bread 100% of the time…but other than that, bring on the French cuisine! Especially coq au vin, ratatouille niçoise,
    and macarons!

  • YJ

    Does the “traduction baguette” really exist? In my two years in France, I’ve never seen one! 😛 the list is otherwise pretty much accurate, but I’ve never seen people eating just mustard on baguette – vinaigrette or butter maybe!
    For me, one of the healthiest thing is that there are fixed “rules” about eating times and the order of the meal – breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner; entrée, plat, fromage, dessert.

  • We adore the simple Parisian philosophy of using whole, fresh, clean ingredients – it should be that way in everything from our food to our skincare! Thanks for sharing this post!

  • Hyatt Lam

    Obesity is rare in Paris and so as most Asian cities, and that’s totally because of food culture, not genes or restrictive diet. In Paris the organic fast food chain EXKi is almost everywhere, so when I am on a run and need to grab something fast I will see EXKi first before I find McDonald’s or KFC. In Tokyo it is hard for you to eat unhealthy even if you try, the Japanese cuisine is simply healthy and delicious, and quite cheap, best thing is they are not very salty, so after a meal of hot dish and sushi there will be no crave for dessert (the localised choices at Japan McD’s are also less fatty). In both Paris and Tokyo the public transport network is good and the pathways are easy to walk, so nobody drives and everyone needs to walk/stand a lot just to go to work/school everyday, calories are burnt in daily life even without the gym 🙂

  • KB

    This is a lovely article! I hope you will update the part about the eggs though — there is a marked difference between the processing of eggs in France vs the US, and US eggs should be kept refrigerated for food safety.

  • I’m obsessed with the French way of eating – it’s the secret to actually enjoying what you eat AND how you look at the same time!! I’m currently living in Europe, and since coming here from Portland OR, I’m amazed at how much healthier and more vibrant I feel. I will embrasser la voie française (embrace the french way), no matter where I live! 🙂

    https://theleadinglady.co/

  • I’ve been living in Paris for 2 months with hosts and you perfectly described our apartments. Cheese, baguettes, wine- are always in the kitchen!

  • This makes me want to start planning a Paris trip right now! One of my favorite things about travelling is experiencing the new food and it looks like I would love the food in Paris!

    Jaqui | http://www.blissfuljaqui.com

  • Marie Durand

    A “traduction baguette” means “translation baguette”. We say in french “une baguette tradition”

  • Alaina

    Granted, I lived in the south of France, but my host family had good ol’ Danone yogurt in the fridge. No fancy homemade stuff in glass jars. 😀

    • jeannemara

      Isn’t it funny how we Americans now consider items made in the home (homemade) “fancy.” It used to be the other way around. Unfortunately, the culture has changed so much in less than a hundred years. Heck, less than fifty years. We, even in a spread out small city, walked almost daily and certainly rode our bicycles a lot! We ate quite well, too. Perhaps once a year we ate fast food. Breakfast and dinner were made at home, even when my mother went back to work, we children prepared the meals. And, no daily desert. I remember when we would ask my mother, “what’s for desert?,” she would often say, “bread and jam.” That was often desert when she was a child and is one of my “go to” deserts now.

      • Alaina

        I think it’s because we feel that we don’t have time to make homemade items. I know when I get home from work the last thing I want to do is make dinner.

  • Not just any butter, but beurre demi sel aka heaven.

  • Jill

    Word of warning about eggs: they don’t refrigerate them in Europe because they don’t wash them, which takes off a protective layer from the egg. In contrast, America DOES wash their eggs, which strips them of that’s layer and makes them NOT shelf stable. So don’t try the windowsill trick here! (Unless you like salmonella)

    • jeannemara

      Unless, of course you buy your eggs at the farmers’ market from the people who don’t rinse the eggs off (and the chickens are organically reared.)

  • I love eating in Europe but, especially in France. Their attitude towards food is so much more balanced than the typical American or Canadians. Also everyone walks! Moving around all day really helps keep belly boat away and helps with your digestion. We just sit way too much in the US and Canada 🙂

    Sarah
    http://www.balancingwanderlust.com

  • Hanny

    Omg this is making me miss my home country!! We had all of those ingredients/food in our apartment. I def drank my chocolate milk and tea in a bowl. Honestly when we moved to the US, we barely had any cups with us maybe four.

  • I visited Paris in May & just learned about the tradition baguette thing! Sooo good. :]

    // itsCarmen.com

  • Jovana St

    I think these are more European than just French things. 🙂

  • Heather Robertson

    Reading this list reminded me of a documentary I watched about sugar. Basically, back in the 70s (I think) there was a study that came out about how bad sugar was. The food makers & sugar lobby fought it and made fat the target instead. They created all these low & no fat snacks, dairy products, etc… that were stripped of any nutrients and loaded with empty calories and sugar. And here we are, fatter and more unhealthy. Turns out, our bodies need full, healthy fats. Yes, walking more helps but ultimately the French and other European countries are eating more satisfying, high quality foods and less junk foods.

    • I’ve seen that documentary too, and read about more recent accompanying science to back it up. I lead a mostly sugar-free diet now and honestly, I don’t miss the sweet stuff anymore. I also feel healthier and more energetic. Those Little Debbie snack cakes can stay right there on the grocery store shelf, thank you!

      https://on-th3-cusp.blogspot.com/

  • Chris

    Being parisian since forever, i read your blog and went to check in my kitchen and your list is a 110% on point 😉