Le Foodist Paris Cooking Class



Ethnic Food in France

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Though France is renowned for its traditional cuisine, it also offers a variety of foods from all over the world. The country has grown increasingly diverse over the years, attracting immigrants from all around, and many have brought delicacies from their home countries with them. Paris now not only features French delights like crêpes and steak-frites, but also Syrian bakeries, Vietnamese cafes, and Portuguese rotisseries.

In fact, a critical part of enjoying French cuisine is experiencing its international aspects. A class on only French baking or pastry won't tell you about how immigrants from their former empire have brought their native cuisines to the streets of Paris and beyond. Therefore, any foodie looking to fully experience French cuisine must also try meals from Morocco, Lebanon, and Cambodia.

what are some ethnic foods in france

What is Ethnic Food?

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This term is a bit hard to define, but in general, it should refer to cuisine outside of a region's native culinary traditions. In the United States, for example, Western European fare rarely falls into this category because US culinary tradition is heavily influenced by that region, but food from Asia does because Asian cuisine usually features different cooking styles, tools, and ingredients. On the other hand, in China, a hamburger from the US would fall under this definition for the same reason.

Keep in mind that this term doesn't mean "cheap". Though Paris has plenty of inexpensive international street eats, you can also find loads of fine dining options among this category. La Cueva del Diablo on rue du Cardinal-Lemoine, for example, is an Argentinian restaurant that cooks its meat with a special coal imported from South American forests; if you expect to get a dish here for the same price as a street crêpe, then you've probably lost your mind!

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What International Eats Will I Find?

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In major cities, you'll find all kinds of cuisine in this international culinary hub. Frankly, it's borderline impossible to list all of the different countries represented in this diverse landscape. 

However, due to colonial ties or mass immigration, certain types of cuisine are more common - and thus more likely to be found outside of hubs like Paris or Nice. The list below thus features some of the most prominent and gastronomically influential countries.

  • Vietnam

Vietnam was a French colony from 1887 until 1954, and consequently, a large Vietnamese community resides in France. During the colonial period, both cultures heavily influenced each other's cuisines as evidenced by dishes like the Vietnamese banh mi, a sandwich that uses a rice flour version of the classic baguette. You can also find distinctly Vietnamese fare, such as pho, in many eateries as well.

  • Japan

Japanese expatriates have frequently journeyed to France since the 1870s to study and enjoy its culture. Today, many persons of Japanese descent live here, and many Japanese expats stay for extended periods of time. These long-established Japanese communities have brought classic establishments like sushi bars and noodle houses into the French culinary landscape, and many famous chefs, such as Sadaharu Aoki, seamlessly blend the two cultures' fine cooking and baking traditions.

  • Senegal

Like Vietnam, Senegal is another former colony whose culture and cuisine has heavily influenced France. Many Senegalese immigrants have brought delicacies like Thiebou Yapp, cooked beef or lamb, vegetables, seasonings, and rice, and yassa, chicken marinated with spices and simmered in a pan with mustard, garlic, onion, and lemon juice to create a sauce served with plain rice. 

  • Lebanon

Though France occupied Lebanon from WWI until the late 1950s, many Lebanese persons immigrated in 1975 as a result of civil war, expanding the small community that already existed within the country. These immigrants brought with them classic staples like hummus and pita as well as baba ghanouj, a dip made from char-grilled eggplant. Today, many Lebanese eateries from street stalls to fine dining establishments dot the streets of Paris and beyond.

  • Morocco

People of Moroccan descent comprise a substantial subset of the French population as a result of mass immigration after the colonial period. Like many other North African countries, Morocco's cuisine blends elements from Arabic, Mediterranean, Berber, and other nearby cultures. Classic Moroccan tagines cook meats or vegetables in a clay pot, and Fassi B'stilla is a special pie that includes ingredients from pigeon to cinnamon.

Touring International Cuisine in Paris

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Though you can find some fantastic international eats everywhere, the international city of Paris is the best place to tour the many colors of modern cuisine. If you want to spend a day experiencing the best international foods that Paris has to offer, these arrondissements and sub-districts are some of the many stops you should make along your route.

  • Rue Sainte-Anne

This street in Paris's Little Tokyo draws Japanese expats, Parisians, and tourists alike with its array of eateries, bakeries, and stores specializing in Japanese goods. From noodle shops like Udon Bistro Kunitoraya to fancy fusion joints like Chez Miki, rue Sainte-Anne is an excellent stop for Japanese fare of all kinds.

  • La Goutte d'Or

Often referred to as "Little Africa," this vibrant neighborhood is filled with West Africans, Middle Easterners, Eastern Europeans, and Parisians living together in a fabulous cultural melting pot. Markets cater to West African and Carribean tastes, making for a worthwhile venture, and restaurants like Le Dibi da Chez Aida feature African fare such as Senegalese thieboudienne, a fish vegetable stew served on a bed of tomato rice.

  • The 13th Arrondissement

The 13th Arrondissement is the place to find fantastic Asian fare in Paris. Many Chinese and Cambodian refugees settled here during the 1970s, so you can find everything from the authentic dim sum to modern fusion here. This arrondissement also has loads of delicious Vietnamese eats. Try a bowl of pho at Pho Bida Vietnam or a classic banh mi at Thieng Hang. This neighborhood also features the food truck heaven that is Avenue de France. Try generous portions of Thai salads and noodles at Tooq Tooq or African-inspired home cooking at New Soul Food.

  • Le Marais

Encompassing parts of the 3rd and 4th Arrondissements, this trendy neighborhood is home to both Jewish and Chinese communities. In the Jewish district on rue des Rosiers, you can find arguably the best falafel in the entire city at L'As Du Fallafel. However, in addition to Israeli eats, you can also find classic Jewish delis and stores selling kosher goods. Le Marais is also home to a large Chinese community, many of whom immigrated during World War One. Today, you can find many Chinese joints surrounding Place de la Republique. 

  • The 11th Arrondissement

The 11th Arrondissement is far outside of tourist zones and is primarily comprised of working-class native Parisians and immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. This hip, up-and-coming neighborhood not only features trendy bistros and cocktail bars, but also a rainbow of diverse eats to match its melting pot of residents. Try Mexican-style tacos at Cafe Chilango, or head to Mokonuts to grab a Middle Eastern lunch. 

  • Rue de Faubourg

Though it's a bit of a trek outside of the main city, this culturally diverse street features authentic eats from all over Asia, Africa, and the Middle East in both street stalls and sit-down eateries. You can get a fantastic curry at Passage Brady, a sandwich at the Daily Syrien, or roam the streets and eat all of the street goodies you can carry. An afternoon grazing through rue de Fauborg is well worth the trip.

  • Marche couvert Saint-Quentin

This distinctly international market features eats from all around the globe. Eat feijoada, a Brazilian black bean stew, at Alegria Brasil or lemon chicken a La Marrakech, a Moroccan joint. Oh Africa features Senegalese cuisine, and Chez Silviana, a Portuguese rotisserie, sells regional produce and takeout. It's also a covered market, so you can enjoy it no matter when you visit.

  • Belleville

Located in the 19th and 20th arrondissements, Belleville is Paris's "hipster" district that's full of independent boutiques, eateries, and other small businesses. It's also cultural melting pot thanks to influences from immigrants from around the globe. Rue de Belleville is filled to the brim with Chinese and Vietnamese eateries. If you stop by there, check out Lao Siam, whose menu features Vietnamese, Thai, and Laotian cuisine. You can also find a handful of other countries represented here, such as Mukura's delicious take on Colombian food. 

Finding the Best International Eats

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With so many fantastic options, choosing where to enjoy a kebab or falafel can be a difficult task. Here are some tips to find the best international eateries that France has to offer.

Watch the Locals

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As with anywhere you travel, the locals know where the best food is. If you see a place that's crowded with locals, then odds are it's a good one.

Venture off the Beaten Path

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Aside from chains and maybe some Japanese fine dining, you're not going to find many international joints along major tourist routes. Head to local corners or cultural enclaves to find that authentic baklava

Find Markets and Festivals

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Markets and festivals will bring together the best of best, so you can wander through one and taste delightful eats from all over the planet. If you find a good one, be sure to arrive with an empty stomach!

For more information, please refer to the following pages:

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And they do not have to do with what you will find in those markets. They have to do with when you can go shopping there. Open Air markets are only open in the morning. Typically from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. And they are not open every day. As a matter of fact for the vast majority they are open either open every other day (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Wednesday, Friday, Sunday), or sometimes only twice a week. 

This is the case of the Bastille Market (Metro Bastille and Metro Bréguet Sabin )which is open only on Thursday and Sunday morning. We like to send people there because it is a very big market with over one hundred vendors. And it has a nice stand of Crêperie in the middle. Here you get a video of a lady preparing a crêpe there; and you can get that crêpe for only 3 Euros!
There is only one Open Air market open every day of the week, it is called Marché Aligre (Metro Ledru Rollin or Metro Faidherbe Chaligny) which happens on the eponymous street. It is an interesting market because you find all kinds of quality in that market – the good, the bad and the ugly. There is also a nice covered market in the middle of it called Marché Beauveau – sometimes called Marché Beauveau Aligre. On the contrary, Covered Markets are open every day, and not just in the morning, but also in the late afternoon. Typically from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

We are blessed with two markets close to where Le Foodist is located, so we can walk to a market every morning – sometimes it is the Maubert market, and sometimes it is the Monge market. Both nice with their own specififies. Last but not least, none of these markets is open on Monday. Do not sign-up for a Market Tour on Monday, you might never see that money again …

Choosing Ingredients in Paris

While all markets are different, they also have some things in common. First they work on specific schedules as explained before. But also you will find always at a minimum the following vendors: a Maraîcher – this is the name we give to people selling fruits and vegetables, a butcher, a fishmonger, a cheesemonger and a baker. Normally you will find several of each, with different levels of quality, organic or non-organic, local or not local (but mostly not local unfortunately).
And we explain how to recognize each of those of course during our Market Visits and Cooking Classes in Paris. But choosing ingredients can be daunting at first, because of the variety that is on display. A typical fishmonger will carry 20 different types of fishes, and as many shrimp and shelf fish varieties. A good cheese monger will easily carry up to 100 different types of cheese and obviously you could get over 100 different cuts of meat at a butcher (from the type of meat to the cut itself). And a normal Maraicher will carry between 50 and 100 fruits and vegetables as well.
This is what makes these markets so exciting – the variety of products, the beauty of their display, and the exchange you can have with most of the vendors. We give you tips though on how to make sure that exchange with the vendors go well – a few magic words, and everything will be fine!

Cooking in Paris

Obviously going to markets is nice, but actually knowing that you are going to cook what you find there is even more exciting. It is not uncommon for Parisians to buy a little bit too much food because they get so excited at the idea of cooking it all! But as most of us have hardly any space where we live, that can limit the enthusiasm sometimes. Because of the lack of space, Cooking in Paris can be quite different from cooking in the rest of France. And there are also dishes that are typically associated with regions which the Parisian will not cook at home – but taste when they visit friends or families in the various regions of France. However our kitchen has plenty of space, so we can cook traditional French dishes without a problem – whether they come from Paris or any region. And the most important part for us is to ensure that we share techniques much more than just recipes. As a matter of fact, we love to share a bit of the science behind what we do so people can better remember the “what” by understanding the “why”.

Sharing Stories

In November 2010, some experts from the UN cultural organisation, decided tha France’s multi-course gastronomic meal, with its rites and its presentation, fulfilled the conditions for featuring on the “world intangible list” of the UNESCO.
In this list you can find all kinds of cultural practices, including Mexico Day of the Dead festival for example. Importantly this is not suggesting French cuisine is better than other cuisines (even though we the French tend to believe that …). It is only saying that the gastronomic meal and what it entails is a very vivid cultural practice which people in France partake into on a very regular basis. That is why the same experts indicated that the French gastronomic meal is a “social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups”. And in that social custom, there are many parts: the attention we pay to the way we choose ingredients, how we pair wine with food, how many dishes we will present to our guests, how we lay the table, etc… But one big part of the cultural practice is that commensality (the fact of sharing the food) is always accompanied by sharing stories about …. Well, you would have guessed it, Food of course!
To us it is THE perfect example of how Food and Culture come together – actually we decide to share food is a considered a cultural practice. I would argue that it is true of all countries, regions, etc… As the way we relate to Food is such a big part of anybody’s identity. But as a result and to make sure you have the most genuine experience of French culture, after the a coking class in Paris at Le Foodist, you will share a gastronomic meal at a common table with your Chef and fellow participants to the class.

French Wine and Food Pairing

As mentioned above, one of the big cultural practices in France is choosing how to pair Wine and Food in general and Wine and Cheese in particular. We actually have a class which focuses specifically on this. As it is so important though, we always make sure we share white and red wines during our meals, chosen to pair well in our opinion with the food we cook. And being at the table together is a good opportunity to discuss about wine as well, with concepts such as “terroir” (to simplify, terroir means “what you do depends on where you are”) which are essential to grasp the way the French think about Food.
And all this will always go with a cheering “Santé” – which quite simply means, to your good health!

More About Our Baguettes Classes

Getting a bit technical during our Baguette Class in Paris

The French baguette, actually probably better known as the Parisian baguette has beome a true symbol of French popular gastronomy. A true icon of French life even - look around and you will see the Parisians strolling back home with their baguettes under their arm. But if you are French why would you learn how to do this? You can buy a baguette at any corner of Paris for about one Euro a piece.  But in our Baguette Class in Paris  you will learn how do this from scratch. It is somewhat technical, but also full of tips and tricks. But when you leave, it will have not secret left for you. From the original mix to the famous "scarification" through adding water to your oven through baking, you will see and do it all.

Learning more during your Baguette class in Paris: Croque Monsieur Bread and Brioche

This class is like all our other baking or cooking classes: totally hands-on. So you get to practice from beginning to end - and to taste at the end. But not only will you learn how to make Baguette, but you will also learn to make two more types of bread: the French Croque Monsieur bread. The basis for the classic French bistrot appetizer. And in your Baguette class in Paris you will also learn how to make your own Brioche. Probably the most indulgent bread you will find in France - if not the lightest ...

And you might learn some history during your Baguette Class in Paris

While you will learn the techniques to create - and get to taste - three classic types of French breads, you will also learn some of the stories on the origin of the baguette. Just beware it is still being quite hotly debated. What is for sure though is that the Baguette is absolutely part of today Parisian's life. A classic you will be able to take back home with you.

More About Our Wine and Cheese Lunch in Paris

Cheese and Wine in Paris

The pleasures we can derive from French cuisine can seem endless.  However two of the best known and loved French gastronomic heroes are French cheese and wine. Whether we talk about a Brie which actually comes from very close to Paris, to a creamy Camembert from Normandy, or a Comté from the Alps, French cheese has a delight for all palates. And of course, French wines are even better known whether from Bordeaux great wines or Burgundy sophisticated whites – all of which enthral wine lovers.  Well, at our course on cheese and wine in Paris you will come to appreciate that although each is delicious on its own, properly matched cheese and wine together can make the experience of each even more enjoyable and an absolute delight.

How to pair French cheese and wine

Because not all pairings are actually what people expect, at Le Foodist we have decided to call these experiences 'Daring Pairings'. Maybe because we like to step out of the ordinary to challenge our taste buds, but really all we try to do is give you the perfect match fo cheese and wine in Paris.  So not only will you learn how to select the best wine to go with your cheese, but you will also learn what are the big cheese families in France – there are actually only five, and this is one of the keys to great pairing. In discovering all these pairings of cheese with wine you will be convinced that indeed two things together can be better than the sum of their parts.

It is important to have fun with pairing cheese and wine in Paris

Beyond the tastings though, we have found that the best way to help our clients remember and re-use their experience is to vary the way to approach both wine and cheese.  That is why during our courses on cheese and wine in Paris we share sensory games and many an anecdote to bring the produce to life in your mind as well as on your palate. Overall we will feature four excellent wines, one Champagne and demonstrate to you how best each combines with cheese, letting your taste guide you along with our teaching.

Understanding cheese and wine pairing while in Paris

While for many top Parisian wine stores and restaurant wine lists can be confusing and even intimidating, we believe that after our lunch learning how to pair cheese and wine in Paris, you will feel much more comfortable navigating all of those.  And we sincerely hope your knowledge will help you unlock a door to a whole new world of enjoyment of French wine and cheese pairing.  At every step of the way our sommelier will also share unique tips and tricks to understand wines better and how culture and wine are so related in France; hopefully enriching your own experience as well.

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