Paris: Cooking Class

One of the best days we spent in Paris was on Friday for our cooking class.
It was sprinkling that morning and we were glad because we knew we would spend the day at La Promenades Gourmands so the rain didn’t matter.
We met at 9 am in front of a patisserie, introduced ourselves
and were herded along to the fish shop.
We were all Americans, four from southern Calif, one from Seattle, one from Savannah and we two Virginians thrown in for good measure.

Paule Callibault was our chef and guide. 

She offers a half day class (which is what we took), a full day class and walking tours.
At the fish market we learned a bit about choosing fish. 
I am happy to say that she was very complimentary about our Atlantic fish. 
She felt that cold water fish were the best and that the Mediterranean simply didn’t offer the same great choices. 
Shellfish, such as lobster and crab are not usually available there. 
Many French people like to serve these at the holidays and that is when they might be found. 
She was familiar with our Chesapeake Bay 
and commented that the seafood from here was excellent.

Paule had asked us all for a list of the foods we were interested in 
before she compiled a menu.
 Interestingly, she said it wasn’t worth making fish/seafood because it was primarly something where sauces were important rather than the food,
 since cooking seafood/fish was pretty simple and straightforward.
We moved on to the meat store.

Before I go on….my husband wants to make sure you notice the feet on the chicken…..LOL

Paule has visited the US and we had a discussion about the huge breasted chickens 
that she saw there. 
She was very disparaging about the production of large chickens like that and felt strongly that the flavor was not as good and that it was quite unhealthy. 
She only uses free range or organic chicken.
 We saw duck, guinea hen, chicken, lamb, pork, veal and beef.
Someone asked about steak and, once again, Paule mentioned that the steak in the US is much better because of the cattle production we have. 
She said steak is common in France (we had already eaten it twice) but that is is not as good. 
As I said, she had asked us all for food preferences and most of us had requested 
(affordable) chicken because we wanted to reproduce the menu 
when we returned to the US, BUT she said, 
a French person would NEVER serve chicken to guests.
 Chicken is a family type dish and not considered suitable for company.
We did in fact, make a Moroccan chicken dish because she wanted to accommodate us.
Paule told us that Moroccan food is practically the ‘second’ French food.
The French colonized in that area so long ago that the food has been well integrated into their culture, similar to the British affinity for Indian curries.

Next came the fruit/vegetable shop.

Everything was so gorgeous! Things were beautifully arranged and presented.

 Paule informed us that Kiwi’s were now grown in France so they were more available and affordable than before.
Fruits were cut open and displayed so the ripeness could be seen.

We bought some strawberries for the tart we would be making.
I loved these radish ‘bouquets’…

I asked about the size of the asparagus. It was about an inch thick.
I said that in the US, I would always try and find the thinnest asparagus I could 
and the others nodded in agreement. 
She seemed a bit surprised and said that it didn’t matter if it was thick. 
Since we had it for lunch and it was fabulous, I can tell you it didn’t.
We took white and green asparagus.

Next came the cheese shop.
You could tell that this was an important thing. Paule discussed cheese quite a bit and especially the aging needed before it was eaten. We had a cheese tasting before lunch and I have never tasted cheese like that before. It was fantastic!

There was much discussion about the ripeness and the planned reason for serving.

The vendors all wore brown jackets and took the questions from the customers very seriously.

Lastly we stopped at the bakery where we weren’t allowed to take pictures.
Paule let us know that she didn’t understand why that was but just waved her hand in a Gallic ‘whatever’ and let it go. 
We discussed the return of artisanal bread in France.
For many years there was a prohibition that restricted bakers 
and caused a real lack of decent bread in France, she said. 
Then in the 70’s the regulations were relaxed and artisanal bakeries began to open up. 
Now, good bread was easy to find.
Finally, it was time to go to her home and begin the cooking part.
We grabbed the metro and were there very shortly.
I was very excited to go into a home. I love houses and people and love to see how other people live and decorate, etc.
Paule’s building was very old. She is in the Marais district (4th arr.).
There was a great spiral staircase painted blue leading to her apartment.

We shed our damp things and settled in for some cooking and a nice glass of wine…..

Next time…….cooking…
stay tuned!

Sharing with
Rattlebridge Farm


  1. Yum! Can’t wait. I would have loved the cheeses!!!

  2. cheese…ahhhh Happy to hear that I’m eating more “French” He He Only organic chicken! I could have just eaten cheese and bread that entire trip! In fact when I was in Paris I wandered around with a bottle of mineral water and a french loaf and just took pictures! I’m so glad you had a great time!

  3. I want to stick my face in the cheese mountain and sample. I think it might even be my fantasy.



  1. […] give you the recipes for some of the delicious foods  we prepared in our Paris cooking class! ( part I part II)   But first I want to tell you that this is my blogiversary […]

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