Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A pretzel is a pretzel is a pretzel.

Except when you're in France and it's called a "Bretzel". Those crazy French, always having to be different. Yesterday afternoon, I headed over to La Défense (the business district) in order to meet up with Crystal at the mall out there. And what a mall it was - it was huge and very American, with a great food court. I will definitely be going back there.

But the reason of our visit was this : Bretzel Love. It's a new pretzel chain that opened in early January, and they offer (duh) American-style pretzels. I had a bit of trouble finding it at first, and my attempts at asking at the information desk were met with complete and utter disdain. "But Madame, this does not exist! Look at the map! There is no "Bretzel" anywhere on the list!" Luckily I am now skilled in dealing with your standard unhelpful French woman (I wonder if I could put that on my CV....), and I was finally able to convince her to look on a newer list, and oh! what do ya know! there it was. I was bestowed with a "Second floor" and a hand gesture that seemed to indicate it was somewhere off to the left, so off I went. Though it did make me wonder about all the signage in the mall, and how they deal with all the stores that come and go...

On to Bretzel Love. It was indeed a very American-looking pretzel stand:
The guy wasn't too happy with me taking pictures, so sorry about the glare. The sweet flavors: pretzel stick, sugar, cinnamon & praline.And the savory: pretzel hotdog, plain, salted, parmesan & onion:I had a cinnamon pretzel with caramel sauce, and to be honest, I was kind of disappointed. The pretzel was a bit tough & dry, though maybe they're made that way on purpose to cater to the French market. The caramel sauce was also very French, ie runny & slightly burnt tasting (think the caramel that's in the flan au caramel you buy at the supermarket), and not rich & creamy like I was expecting. I've heard good things about their pretzels though & Crystal said that the previous one she'd had had been a lot better, so I think I'll give them a second chance.

And I had to laugh when Crystal pointed out the table next to us. You can't really see because of the glare, but the little sticker on the table is of a person in a wheelchair, indicating it's the handicapped table. But what exactly makes it handicapped? It was exactly the same as all the other tables in the eating area....Anyways, check it out if you're ever in the area. Next on my list is a parmesan pretzel with pizza sauce!



Blogger Jennie said...

It's also called Brezel in German, which is where we got the English word pretzel. I have no idea why the b got changed to a p though!

February 18, 2009 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Rochelle said...

Those are American style bretzels? I didn't know that..we have the same huge ones here in Metz (the whole German thing we have here).

February 18, 2009 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Frogmae said...

Hey!!! So funny, have you seen my post on Bretzel Love, I think it was 2 weeks ago. I often go to the mall of la Défense now that I live not far away from this area and I tried 2 pretzels last time: a Parmesan one and a cinnamon one and they were yummy!! Can you believe that's the only shop like this in France!! (even if I have seen pretzels sold elsewhere...)

BTW, funny part about the information desk lady!! ;)

February 18, 2009 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Zannah said...

Perhaps this is a dumb question, but what exactly does "stix" flavor taste like? Sap?

February 18, 2009 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Leesa said...

Haha! I love the name-- with the word LOVE in English... Made it's a British thing, too... But, I do think that bretzls originated in Germany or somewhere like that so, they're not really "American," though the shop sure reminds me of an American style pretzel shop. I think that NY style are soft and huge! And served with mustard... We had a pretzel shop in San Diego (YEARS AGO)- don't know if it's still there... Maybe the one you had was sitting there for a while so it was not so fresh.. best eaten warm and fresh!!
I can't believe you've never been out to La Defense yet.. We LOVE the movie theatre there....
Take care,

February 18, 2009 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Leesa - I think the American style ones are the ones like you mentioned, ie big & soft & fluffy. It seems that when French people think of pretzels, they tend to think more so of the little apéro pretzel sticks - though like Rochelle said, maybe they have the bigger ones closer to Germany. This is the first time I've ever seen this kind in France though, so I was excited - it used to be my mall ritual before, ie go shopping & pick up a soft pretzel!

PS. Zannah, ha, no, it was just a plain pretzel in the shape of a bread stick!!

February 18, 2009 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger wcs said...

I think I'd rather have a croque monsieur. Call me stodgy.

February 18, 2009 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Juli said...

The handicapped sticker means you are not supposed to place a chair or sit in that spot but leave it open for someone that uses a wheelchair.
Pretzels were first made by German monks and are folded to mimic the hands inside the tunic or a child at prayer and the three holes represent the Holy Trinity. Supposedly lol, I love them but only the savory.

February 18, 2009 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Sophia's Monde said...

Ha, I see I am too late to tell you that Bretzel means pretzel in German... but the best pretzels are German so it makes sense they call them that! Though I'm sure they pronounce it differently and correct you if you say it the correct German way. I'll never forget how many times I was corrected on my pronuncation of the word "brownie" while in France. It's "brownie" not "bruuuuunie" !!!

February 18, 2009 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I love pretzels! They sell them at monoprix, but they are rather dry and hard.
Oh, and I think you can put that on your resume!

February 18, 2009 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Alisa said...

this part made me laugh: "The pretzel was a bit tough & dry, though maybe they're made that way on purpose to cater to the French market. The caramel sauce was also very French, ie runny & slightly burnt tasting"

or you could just say, 'the french have no taste!' :) teehee

February 19, 2009 at 3:51 AM  
Blogger Mrs V. said...

mmmmm - I love Bretzels - I mean Pretzels - whatever it is, I like it!! In Lausanne (Switzerland) I actually found them in the frozen food section of one of the bigger supermarkets. You pop them in the oven and bake them for about 10 min or so. They actually taste somewhat like a Pretzel that you would buy in NYC. But of course not as big! I miss NYC........

February 19, 2009 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Alisa, that's not what I was trying to say at all! It's just a difference of taste, that's all - we tend to prefer things to be soft & creamy, and the French tend to like things drier & crispier (pizza crusts, cakes, muffins, etc).

February 19, 2009 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger parisiannewyorker said...

I think the German pretzels (brezels) are usually the big soft ones like in NYC.

February 20, 2009 at 12:21 AM  
OpenID Eve said...

My bilingual (French/American) kids (we live in the US) mix up those two words between the two languages, since they are so close. And, I always laugh at "bretzel" but, from what your readers say, that is closer to the "original" word it seems!

February 20, 2009 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Sophia's Monde said...

Depends what area of Germany you are in. I'm sure many of you have seen the huge big soft ones that they have at Oktoberfest, then there are the most traditional ones that come from southwestern German (the Bundesland of Baden-Wurttemberg) which are "laugen brezeln"... they are made with a special salty flour/water combo and are the best! They use the same formula to make "broetchen" (rolls).

February 20, 2009 at 8:32 PM  

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