Beets are Back: A Walk in Eastern Paris and a Lunch Recipe

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Beets are Back: A Walk in Eastern Paris and a Lunch Recipe
Between you and me, I can’t think of any vegetable more unglamorous than beets. Before I moved to France, I associated beets with the evil witch in a fairy tale. In my mind, before she tucked into her toadstool and eye-of-newt omelet (or a small child), she would start her meal with beets. Nowadays beets are just about as fashionable in Paris as face masks or platform Chelsea boots – even the French fashion house Maison Margiela is making them (boots, not masks). Like the boots, the humble beet has gained an all-pervasive influence in Paris, even among street artists. Since lockdown number two began, I’ve had some time to wander in our neighborhood. Of course, it’s always within a 1 km, or a 0.62-mile radius of our apartment. This handy application, courtesy of the French government, shows you just how far you can go in any direction. Merci! But lockdown or not, I usually take the time to stroll through the quaint cobblestoned alleys and side streets of the 19th and 20th districts. One of my favorites is the Cité de l’Ermitage. The tangle of vines and other greenery, along with the distinct presence of feline friends, make this a quiet haven just next to the bustling rue de Ménilmontant. Can you spot the two cats in this photo of the cité de l’Ermitage? Photo © Allison Zinder Wandering in eastern Paris also has incidental perks, like street art and free furniture. And the cats, of course. There are references to felines everywhere, whether large or small, real or just as street art. But my favorite flâneur experience by far is catching whiffs of stewing leeks or garlicky beef, whose odors are emanating from someone’s pressure cooker. The steaming valve is usually positioned next to a rez-de-chaussée (ground floor) window, like an odor-cannon aimed straight at my nostrils. It was during one such wander in Ménilmontant that I encountered this poster, BEETS = DEATH. I wondered what the street artist had against beets, unless s/he also considered, like my childhood self, that only witches were fit to eat this apparently fatal food. Beets = death? Photo © Allison Zinder
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Lead photo credit : Photo © Allison Zinder

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Allison Zinder is a gastronomy guide and culinary educator working in French food, culture, history, and art. A certified chef and pastry chef, she offers market tours, food history tours, food-related Study Abroad programs, and Food & Beverage courses at hospitality schools in Paris. Allison has lived in France for 25 years. She is passionate about sharing her deep cultural knowledge, and has created engaging educational experiences for over 4000 clients.