December 11, 2013

La Grande Epicerie and the Cuban defilé

Supposedly the Cubans carry arrangements of fruit on their head? Well, tonight the French went overboard with their love for food.

I am talking about the reopening of the newly-fitted mecca of gourmet food: La Grande Epicerie, a Parisian institution which occupies an area just short of 3,000m2. This food hall belongs to the Le Bon Marché, a department store which oozes French style and attitude. In 1852, Aristide Boucicaut invented modern shopping as we know it by creating the world's first department store, Le Bon Marché. Effectively it is the French that shop there, the tourists are lured to the Galleries Lafayette, buy the bus loads.

First, my hubby and I descended into the remarkable wine department on the lower ground and then browsed around the main floor. All those aisles of gourmet products (30'000) and everybody is busy mingling, not one pick pocketer in sight! I wonder how much budget the management calculated for stolen goods tonight? It would also help if the management weren't chewing gum.

The most surprising fact this evening was not the store itself - which was fine the way it was - but the clientèle that showed up, everybody from classic middle-aged to the young & hip. Bourgeoisie was their common denominator. This proves Le Bon Marché has hit their target spot-on and know their shoppers.

Anyways, the defilé that followed was surprising. The staff received a round of well-deserved applause and cheers as they marched through the shop in one line - some even playing well-aged instruments. However, the headgear of the ladies and gentlemen was mind-boggling. Cheese plates, Seefood platers, Fruit baskets, Patisserie peaks, spoon mountains were worn on heads and shoulders depending on the department they worked at.

I have come to the conclusion I have yet to understand the food psychology of the French. In the meantime, upon our departure we were kitted out with a shopping bag which we could fill with goodies for the next morning. What a charming idea? My kids will love their breakfast tomorrow and wonder what they did to deserve this treat!

Merci. C'était un vrai plaisir!

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