Jul 4, 2016

In This Unassuming Spot: Tomme de Saint Sulpice


Even after five years, every once in a while Paris can still really surprise me. Walking through the 6th arrondissement, on a very average-looking block, I look up and spot a historical placard attached to the wall. And reading it, I find out that in this very unassuming spot, in 1783, the peace treaty ending the American Revolutionary War and officially recognizing the United States was signed.


The sign reads: "In this building, formerly the York Hotel, on September 3, 1783, David Hartley, in the name of the King of England, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and John Adams, in the name of the United States of America, signed the final peace treaty recognizing the independence of the United States."

It is right next door to a contemporary art gallery currently featuring plastic bananas and plastic hair clips.


Interestingly, not only is there no Americana around here, celebrating the significance of the spot, it's actually something of a Little London here in Paris. Just down the block, you could stay at the Hotel d'Angleterre (Hotel of England), or the Globe Hotel, then go for a drink and some food at the Bedford Arms.


I am aware that Hamilton is all the rage in the US, especially NY, at the moment, but my walk in Paris takes me by a bunch of other American founding fathers -- from Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to Thomas Jefferson. In the 7th arrondissement, guarding the entrance to the Pont Solferino (a foot bridge over the Seine),


Jefferson was in Paris for almost five years, from 1785-1789 (interestingly the same year that the French revolution began) as the US Minister to France (Ambassador) before he became the third POTUS in 1801.

The statue was inaugurated on July 4th, 2006 and seems a fitting site to point out on this American Independence Day.

THE CHEESE: Tomme de Saint Sulpice

Tomme de Saint Sulpice, whose full name is Tomme de Montagne Saint Sulpice (and which I have also seen written Tome de Saint Sulpice) is a raw, aged cows' cheese made in the department of Moselle, in the region of Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine. Probably. There is also a Saint Sulpice in just about every region of France, so your Tomme de Saint Sulpice could just be a locally-made, locally-named cheese.

But the one I taste is a cows' cheese, aged till the crust is hard as a rock and about as gray, rough, and weathered as one, too.

While the crust is edible, it is, admittedly, a harder crust to eat, because it's just so dry and tough. The inside, however, has that lovely crumbly-yet-slightly-creamy-in-the-mouth texture. It's a salty, nutty cheese with hints of sweet and grassiness.



This little British section, and the spot where the end of the Revolutionary War was formalized, naming the United States an independent nation, is located in a bunch of small alleys just off the grand Saint Sulpice cathedral in the 6th arrondissement. Since I can't use American Cheese for my posting (and thank goodness), nor a jolly little English Stilton, and there are not -- as far as I know -- any cheeses named for Ben Franklin, I figure this is as close as I can get, both figuratively and geographically, to a cheese that represents this very unassuming location in which something rather momentous occurred. 


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