30 March 2006

Paris: A trip to Monoprix can solve most problems

Monoprix is one of the primary grocery stores in Paris. It's often called a Citymarché and there are about 50 of them scattered around Paris.

There is also another store called ED. I don't know why it's named ED, but I assume there is a good reason. ED sells groceries. No frills, just groceries.

Monoprix has a diverse selection of goods. It is a bit like the U.S. store called SuperTarget, but only a fraction of the size. At Monoprix, one can buy an iron and laundry soap upstairs, then go to the street level for a bathing suit and some toothpaste (la pate dentifrice). Then it's down to the basement for groceries. The cashiers are usually inefficient or, at best, indifferent. Nothing can be done about it and we move on, bagging our own groceries so as not to disrupt the status quo.

Everything you could possibly need can be found at Monoprix. Dairy products are plentiful. The meat selection is marginal, but the meat case is clean and seemingly free of contaminates. I like that. The meat is packaged in small quantities, often with two small pieces in each film-wrapped package. This is better than making the investment in a seven-pound "Value Pack" that would never fit in a tiny fridge.

Downstairs, you can buy a round loaf of bread, but if you want bread in baguette form you have to go upstairs where the prepared foods are sold – closer to the street. Should you need frozen escargot, there are eight varieties. For the most part, I recognize all of the food groups, and most of the foods. They're all there. But, I read the labels carefully...just in case.

When it comes to prepared foods, there are always surprises. I love butter. I love salami. But, I wouldn’t have dreamt these ingredients could join between two slices of bread and be called a sandwich. Salads (other than green salads) are problematic. I tend to buy the salad if I like at least two of the ingredients. There is always a superfluous ingredient that I don’t care for, or would not have thought to include. I had a nice carrot and broccoli salad with a light dressing, but I had to eat the corn that was mixed in. Things are always a bit off-the-mark. Eggs are often to blame.

A visit to Monoprix can solve many of life's problems at a reasonable price. If all else fails, you can stop there for a couple of bottles of wine en route to your friends' apartment or the Tour Eifel.
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