Monday, April 25, 2011

Finding Asia in Paris: Thai Grocery Store Score (L'epicerie thailandaise)

Of  Sexy Dinners, Chili Peppers and Thai Grocery Stores in Paris

I have come across a diamond of a find while aimlessly perusing the streets of Paris on the sunny Easter afternoon! The name of said gem is Thanh Binh Jeune and it specializes in Thai, Vietnamese and East Asian foods, located in the 5th arrondissement.

This may not seem like such a big deal, but you cannot understand the challenge I experienced when looking for something fairly simple (in Asia anyways) and that's red hot chili peppers. I needed them to impress the pants off of ex-amour last week (complicated, read here) with this bad ass Arrabiata sauce of chilies, basil and fresh tomatoes after having being similarly charmed culinary stylez when in Jakarta. I'm convinced that this sauce can open hearts.

So after easily getting the other ingredients all I needed were the chilies. Quite reasonably I figured I would find it in the Franprix and at worst the Monoprix but in the end the only thing I found was disappointment. To make a long story short they were nowhere to be found so I replaced fresh chilies with chili paste, ended up with an overly salty sauce that sizzled the taste buds of my cooking victim and did nothing to prove my large claims that I had finally learned how to cook something out of this universe (I'm the least domesticated person eva but I had thought I had evolved!). To say the least, having both parties panting like dogs in the sun before bedroom goodness is NOT the most romantic way to start the evening. 

I was told for future reference that I'd have to venture up to Gare du Nord, the Indian/ethnic hood of Paris to get certain vegetables and spices and felt only dread because I am too lazy. Then by some stroke of luck yesterday I sauntered by this little Thai grocery store not far from 'home' and found the sought out red hot chili peppers! They also had other major staples in poor student/intern/unemployed diets such as a wide variety of instant noodles like Korean Kim Chi and Tom Yum soup. Lastly, it was much less expensive than the local grocery stores (30-50 centiems). Um..Bi-WINNING!

One more 'Lastly' just told to me by an old uni mate who lived in Paris. "It's also open on most, if not all holidays, so if upon flying into Paris on 31 December you discover an empty fridge, despair not! Delicious frozen dumplings are only a short ride away!" Merci Alain.

 Next day after my attempted murder, we get Subway for din-din,  and he takes me to the Dan Deacon Show. His charming idea > my attempted charming dinner. Sad face. 

Thanh Binh Jeune
18 Rue Lagrange

I wish there was a happy ending to this Easter tale of chili peppers and Thai store finds but unfortunately I made one massive mistake when attempting the Arrabiata again for my guests of our Orphans' Easter Dinner. Being the antithesis to Martha Stewart, I didn't realize the outrageous power these midget chilies had over their longer, more chillin' brothers (picture above) and nearly had a double homicide plus suicide combo with spiciness as the murder weapon! Word to the unwise: For six tomatoes, do NOT use 6 of the little chili peppers. I'd say 3-4 to keep it pleasantly spicy. Sorry ladies!! Anyways, good luck, World with your various love recipes and please share your ethnic grocery finds with us!!

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