March 4, 2014

Paris Agriculture Salon

Ham: The taste of FREEDOM
Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors descend on Paris to see one of France’s greatest passions on full display. It is the Salon International de l’Agriculture, a multi-day celebration of agriculture. This is France, however, so it is really a love letter to food.

At the Paris Expo at the Porte de Versailles in southwest Paris, chickens, pigs, cows, sheep and horses, among others, are on display. The French president makes an annual pilgrimage, along with countless other dignitaries and elected officials. Brass bands play. Talk of employment, pesticide use, European regulations, and farm technology mingle with the unmistakable smells and sights of food.

It means "pig with a black ass"
And the food expo is where the best action occurs.

On the second floor of an immense convention hall, France brags about its culinary tradition and diversity. Every region rents space, showing off their local specialties, oftentimes accompanied by cooking demonstrations. Foie gras from the Dordogne, fish from Brittany, wines from Burgundy, rosés from Provence, bananas from Guadeloupe, pork from the Basque country, apples and butter from Normandy, the Confrérie du Brie de Meaux…as is normally the case when the matter is food, the Gauls come to play.

Provence in the house
There are ample opportunities to déguster, from sips of wine to snitches of ham. Toothpicks adorned with cheeses and bread slathered in rillettes make for nice little snacks as one wanders the vast terrain. And full meals are available in every region, from Alsatian choucroute to cheese fondue from the Alps. 

The glory comes in the variety. Any Frenchman will tell you that the best thing about France is that it offers everything in such a small country: canyons, mountains, waterfalls, skiing, farmland, forests, seashore, lakes. Once these geopgraphic marvels are listed, the Frenchman finds it only too easy and too natural to recount all the different culinary delights that accompany such richness. 

Unlike anything ever seen in a wok
Snack. Snack. Snack.
Every Paris trip needs a tower
There are few greater pleasures than hearing two French women in conversation, meandering the aisles of the food expo. Suddenly, they stop short in front of a display of goat cheese. As one raises her eyebrows in obvious excitement, the other whispers reverentially, “Ah, ça c’est trop bon, ça.” She’s right. It is too good. 

Get your goat on
Go see for yourself…and be prepared for crowds unlike any you have ever seen. Nearly ¾ of a million people visit every year. It’s busy, but for good reason.

Microphone + TV + sheep butts
Women are not afraid of saucissons
What: Agriculture Expo
Where: Paris Expo Center
When: Annually in mid-winter
How Much: 2014 admission was 13 euros with discounted rates for students, groups, and children

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