Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Charcuterie-Traiteurs in France. The Ultimate Full Service Delicatessen?

Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman
Charcuterie- Traiteur
 Photograph courtesy of Stijn Nieuwendijk.
Few charcuteries hold to their original trade of only selling cured or pre-cooked meats, and few traiteurs keep to their trade of only selling cooked products.  Most have become charcuterie-traiteurs and offer the full services of delicatessen with the larger companies also offering catering services for hundreds. Many charcuterie-traiteurs have expanded further by offering the services of a fromagerie, a cheese shop, and others a boucherie, a butcher’s shop; many also offer a limited but acceptable selection of wines and liqueurs.

Charcuterie- Traiteur in Lyon
Photograph courtesy of   z_aurelie
 In France, especially in upscale areas, you will be absolutely staggered by some of the window displays; one look in the windows of a leading charcuterie-traiteur and you will realize that not only in the kitchens are exceptionally well-trained chefs, but the staff in charge of food presentation are undoubtedly among the best in the world.
Charcuterie-Traiteur window

Photograph courtesy of jean-louis zimmermann
Charcuterie-traiteurs provide office or home delivery, and for visitors to France they are delightful places to choose picnic lunches.  French families will order a take-away dinner with a soup or a salad and a main course on days when no one feels like cooking.  Others, with no prior advice may walk into a high-end charcuterie-traiteur and order a 5 star 7-course dinner for 12 guests who will be served on the host’s best china. I have been invited to a few charcuterie-traiteur home catered dinners, and have enjoyed seriously well-prepared French cuisine served together with fine wines, and at the end there were perfectly aged cheeses, and fabulous desserts.


One page from a charcuterie- traiteur take out menu.
Photograph courtesy of jakez29120
The trade of traiteurs, before the coming of restaurants was to provide cooked meals in their own homes; when restaurants with large menus took away their business they opened shops offering prepared soups, salads, stews, cooked meat and fish dishes.  Today as combined charcuterie-traiteurs there are few prepared food products that they do not sell. To compete with these high-end French delicatessens, who are taking away a great deal of the upscale food business; the larger supermarkets have added cooked-food departments, together with the requisite mouth-watering displays. For a brown-bag lunch in the park  charcuterie-traiteurs are the place to go to. Few charcuterie-traiteurs offer any seating, though some, in the summer may place tables and chairs outside.
Meats, pates and sausages on offer in a charcuterie-traiteur.
Photograph by cynoclub through Yay Micro
Traiteur Asiatic – An Asian delicatessen.  The popularity of Asian cuisine has created a demand for traiteurs specializing, in France, in Chinese and or Vietnamese dishes. To keep up with the changing tastes of their clientele, many of these traiteurs have added sushi and other Asian specialties. When you want Asian cuisine as take-away dinner then a traiteur Asiatique will offer a wider choice of cuisines than a regular restaurant take-away.

Prepared foods in a Traiteur Asiatique
Photograph courtesy of livatlantis
For more about buying cheese in France and bringing it home read the post:

Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2012, 2013

For more information on the book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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