Leeking Confidence in Paris

I always feel more legitimate walking around Paris with a leek.

It’s strange really, for such a humble vegetable to be the source of such confidence, but there you have it. Leeks make me feel like I belong.

I mean it’s not as if tourists buy leeks. Cherry tomatoes, maybe. The occasional banana, sure. It’s not their fault, of course. But I mean, what could they do with a leek? A leek indicates ownership of a knife, chopping board, and presumably a kitchen nearby in which to store them. A leek suggests that the leek-carrier possesses enough savoir-faire to cook the leek, and hints at an early morning trip to the markets (even if, in fact, the vegetable in question came from the monop’ at the end of the street).

Leeks are a little bit like the French, too.

An air of elegance surrounds them, but essentially it’s a glorified onion. They are sold by the kilo, yet one eats less than a third of the weight. They are unapologetically awkward, and refuse to fit in the fridge without a fight.

Before I came to France I barley gave leeks a second glance. But so many French recipes called for the mysterious poireaux that I had to see what all the fuss was about. And I’m pretty sure that’s because the French know what I now know.

Forget Hermes scarves, Repetto ballet flats and Longchamp handbags. The perennial must-have accessory? Leeks.

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