It’s not very often that I meet someone on a “blind girlfriend” date in Paris who I really connect with. Meeting up with this week’s For The Love of Kale feature, Emily from Paris Paysanne luckily was not the normal blind date. I only knew her as the woman with the blog about sourcing local food and Paris markets. She only knew me as the woman that has an obsession with kale and wants to bring it to Paris. That was it. To the point where we both stood outside the Anvers metro for at least five minutes half-staring at each other, until we just mouthed each other’s names and then burst into laughter. It was easy to hang out with this girl from the start. It was so easy that I soon found out kale was her “go-to leafy green,” in the States. It was so easy that time flew by so fast that I missed my French lesson (which I was not so upset about). So without further adieu, here is the fantastic Emily and all her Paris Paysanne passion!
When did Paris Paysanne start?
I started the blog in August of 2010, mostly as a documentation of my boycott of the grocery store chain, Carrefour- but I started to want to address a wider variety of subjects so the blog slowly evolved into what it is today.
What does the name mean?
“Paysanne” is French for “peasant”, that word sounds pejorative to me in English, but, in French, to me, “paysanne” has more powerful connotation and describes someone who not only works the land, but has a special knowledge and appreciation of the terrain they tend. This word is used by a lot of agricultural organizations in France (like the Confédération Paysanne) which are politically engaged and fight for the rights of Paysans.
I chose to use the word “Paysanne” because I think Parisians often feel separated both from the land as well as from the people who cultivate the land so that we have food to eat- and I believe that you can have a close relationship with producers and terroir (land) even if you live in a city like Paris.
What were the initial intentions and goals of Paris Paysanne and what are they now?
Even though the blog has evolved over time, I think the intentions and goals have remained the same:
- To seek out, support, and spread the word about local producers of foods and other products in order to provide the opportunity for consumers to be less dependent on industrial goods
- To catalogue sources of local produce and other products for the Parisian community
- To keep up with similar movements around the world and share them with an international audience
I’m from California and grew up in the suburbs where we had the space (and sun) for a garden when I was young- but for the better part of my life I haven’t had access to a garden and my ecological engagement has consisted of composting or buying food from farmers markets. I’m getting back to the land a little more these days, with my balcony garden spilling over into my parcel at the Jardins du Ruisseau, where I recently became a gardener and I share a space with other urban gardeners.
The market I visit most often is Batignolles, because it is all “bio” and also very close to where I live, but my favorite markets are the ones with hidden treasures like small local producers who stand out against the background of wholesale food sellers that are increasingly present at markets. The Marché Monge in the 5th and Marché Cours de Vincennes in the 12th are great for seeking out local producers. The Marché Sur l’Eau at Stalingrad is also a new favorite- I love the idea behind this locally-sourced market where the produce is brought in from the farm by boat, direct to the Parisian shopper.
One of my goals for the site, which hasn’t been developed very much, is to have interaction with readers that have their own gardens/ DIY projects that allow them to get their hands dirty and put distance between their diet and industrial foods. I love to see pictures of balcony gardens and hear about new addressesthat would get the Paris Paysanne seal of approval, so I hope readers won’t hesitate to get in touch!
What do you think of the food scene in Paris?
One thing I love about eating in Paris, and the thing I immediately miss when I’m away from France, is the ritual around eating; the formula and order of the courses, the perfect pairing of wine with your meal, and the time set aside to enjoy a long and relaxed meal with friends and family.
When did you first try kale? How did you try it? What did you think?
I can’t remember the first time I had Kale- it was such an ubiquitous ingredient when I lived in the US. I remember when I developed a dependence on Kale, which was when I was a vegan for 3 years in college- Kale became a staple of my diet and I always had some in stock.
When you had access to kale, what was your favorite way to cook it?
I did my undergrad studies in the Pacific Northwest, where the grey and rainy weather made soups an endlessly appropriate meal. My favorite thing was to throw Kale in potato or even minestrone-type soups to add some crunch and nutrients.
Tell me about any kale experiences you’ve had in Paris.
I only have one market success story regarding kale, it was years ago at the Marché Anvers where I found bunches of the real deal. I was excited to see it and the vendor could tell- I asked him what the French called kale and he told me it was “choux frisé”, but ever since then when I ask about “choux frisé” in markets, people offer me different cabbage varieties, none of which are kale.
Tell us one thing people don’t know about you.
I started taking boxing lessons about a year ago and I totally love it. It is so much fun and a great way to get rid of energy and the odd bits of aggression one accumulates when one lives in a big city!
Describe what kale tastes like in one sentence.
Like a fluffy green health bomb.
Emily is also very involved in community gardens in Paris and we hope to spend some sun-filled time chatting more in her garden in the 18th. More about community gardens in Paris to come!
If you’re interested in trying out the restaurants Emily mentions, check out these reviews: