French food stamps.

Part of V’s compensation plan, as with just about all other Frenchmen, is about 20 “ticket restaurant” each month. I think the original intention for the tickets, valued at €8.95 each in our region of Brittany, was to pay for lunch in the middle of the workday. I believe that in more expensive regions, such as the city of Paris, the tickets are worth around €11.

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But you can use them at almost any restaurant, for lunch or dinner, every day except Sunday. Importantly for me, in my new role as a French quasi-housewife, you can also use two at a time at the grocery store to pay for perishable goods.

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And thus my €26.12 bill at the grocery store yesterday was reduced to just €8.26. Groceries in France are generally cheaper than in America – for instance, just 48¢ for a can of chickpeas! – but my food stamps, as I like to call them, serve to bring the cost down even further.

What am I cooking lately, you may ask? I’ve been cooking up a storm, as it turns out.

Salmon with swiss chard served over soba noodles (needed a special trip to the Asian grocery for that one). Adapted from this Mark Bittman recipe.

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Curried chicken, cauliflower, and chickpeas (smelled so good I didn’t get a chance to snap a photo). Despite being a one-pot meal it was kind of a pain to make. Only slightly adapted from another Mark Bittman recipe.

Quiche with gorgonzola and apple. Adapted so thoroughly that we’ll call it “inspired by” a Dorie Greenspan recipe, in a cookbook appropriately named “Around My French Table”. I love the availability of good pâte brisée (tart dough) in French markets!

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And lastly, chickpeas, spinach, veggies, and couscous served with a fried egg and harissa yogurt, adapted from a Joanne Chang recipe (would have followed it more to the letter but I was constrained by French vegetable availability). I highly recommend this recipe but if you make it, cut the amount of harissa by at least half. At half dose, it was almost more spicy than my adventurous palate can handle.

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Bon appetit!

2 Replies to “French food stamps.”

  1. The tickets resto are such a great idea and I often wonder why the US doesn’t have something similar for all workers. They defray worker costs, company costs (no need for onsite food) and support local restaurants. Plus total freedom of choice for the consumer (for my friends on the right). I had many friends who didn’t really need all of them during the year and saved them for vacation when they knew they would need to eat out – which saved them a bundle.

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    1. Andrew I totally agree! Would make great sense for the US as well. Half the cost comes out of the worker’s paycheck, and the other half comes from the employer. I find that in our household of two we manage to use just about all the tickets each month between groceries and eating out once or twice a week. And it helps me feel legit French when I pull them out of my wallet.

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