How often do you get invited to take a sneak peek into the largest food market in the world? I got a call last night from a top secret client. Nothing too top secret, but much more interesting to assume so. “Wanna go to Rungis?” “Uh YES!” “Ok, I’ll pick you up at 3:30am.” A few hours later, 7 miles outside of Paris, en route to DisneyLand and Ikea, we were strolling the immense meat pavilions. According to my top secret associate, because most supermarkets order directly from suppliers, only about 5 percent of the meat consumed in Ile-de-France (Paris and its surroundings) is actually purchased at Rungis. Most buyers in the morning hours are butchers, marchands, and restaurants selecting their prime carcasses. Then they are split, trimmed, and sent off on their merry ways. Even arriving at 4am, the beef sector was already wrapping up its sales for the day. And the butchers were taking their apero by 6am.
We Chicagoans are responsible for both the Blues and the meat. Blame it on the Chicago girl in me, but I just had to gush that I came from the Meatpacking city of the USA. But much to my chagrin, none of my collaborators had even heard of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. But I am happy to report that Rungis’s carcasses were no comparison, everything hung up properly or carefully sous-vide. Now that I know where Lady Gaga does her shopping during fashion week, sadly there were no sitings.
So by 8am, Rungis was just a memory. I walked out of there with no blood on my shoes and no appetit for anything other than my morning pain au chocolat and a big old nap.