May 2, 2018

Paris, Paris Everywhere: Crottin de Pays


The world's most famous Paris, after Paris itself that is, has to be Paris in Las Vegas, thanks to the half-sized Eiffel Tower, and to the millions of pleasure-seeking visitors. My motto for the Paris tower and casino: Half as Tall, Twice as Tacky. Actually it's much more than twice as tacky -- you can bet on it.

But in that sort of Disneyesque way, they've tried to Paris it up as much as possible, and it's not an entirely bad job, for what it is. For example, there's a nod to the Pont Alexandre III which is, in "real life", very close next to the Eiffel Tower.

The real thing, and the fake thing. I think you'll be able to tell which is which:

Like Paris, France, Paris, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, has a cafe, a montgolfier (hot air balloon), a petit château, glass and steel structures, and gray buildings with Mansard roofs.

There are also showgirls with nipple pasties, palm trees, slot machines, blackjack tables, and roulette wheels. So it's not exactly like Paris.

Stopping through Vegas to take the obligatory Eiffel Tower photo -- along with pictures of the 2/3-sized Arc de Triomphe -- gets me to wondering about all the other Parises in the world:

There's Paris, Texas, which is probably the second most famous city named Paris in the world. And there's Paris, Maine, which isn't even famous among Mainers, except for the 5,000-6,000 "Parisians" who live there. There's also a Paris in Idaho, Kentucky, New York, Missouri, Tennessee (home to the "World's Biggest Fish Fry"), Arkansas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Ohio, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Michigan, Maryland, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, California, and Virginia (with 51 inhabitants). Americans sure seem to love their Parises, given that 22 states have one.

Tennessee's Paris also has an Eiffel Tower -- at 60 feet tall -- built in 1993. This must have seeemed like a challenge to the Texans (you know, because Texans like to boast that everything is bigger in Texas), so that same year, Paris Texas built an Eiffel Tower with a red cowboy hat that measures 65 feet tall. This is less than 1/10 the size of the original, inaugurated in 1889 at 324 meters or 1063 feet, and still far smaller than Vegas' faux-Eiffel (Fauffel?) Tower, inaugurated in 1999.

photos from: http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMTZK2_Eiffel_Tower_Paris_TN and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eiffel_Tower_(Paris,_Texas)

The most far-flung Paris I can find is an abandoned little village on the remote Pacific island of Kiribati. That's the Paris to go to during July if you want to avoid the crowds. But there are four cities named Paris in Indonesia, three in Haiti (this makes some sense, historically), two in the Philippines, Italy, Gabon, Spain, the Congo, and Canada. Paris, Ontario, Canada was once voted the "prettiest town" in Canada, and there's also one in the Yukon, though it's now a ghost town (much like real Paris in August).

There's a Paris in Turkey, Ukraine, Togo, Sao Tome and Principe (not only did you not know they had a Paris, you didn't know they existed), Panama, New Zealand, Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Denmark (a farming hamlet with 12 inhabitants), and Andorra  -- a micro-country in the Pyrenees, between France and Spain, so small I can't believe there's room for towns in it. Russia's Paris also has a mini-Eiffel, which serves as the town's radio tower.

photo from: https://www.pariszigzag.fr/histoire-insolite-paris/toponymes-de-paris-dans-le-monde

THE CHEESE: Crottin de Pays

Crottin de Pays (literally "Turd of the Country") is a, the name suggests, a little, rough-hewn nubbin of cheese fresh from the countryside. It's a goat cheese, made with raw goats' milk in the Loire Valley, but that's just my little turd. I've also seen them coming from the Pyrenees, and even the Alps, which is not normally a huge goat cheese haven. Crottin de Pays is actually rather a generic name, one that could be used for almost any little goat (or other) cheese nubbin from just about anywhere.

It has a chewy, substantive crust, filled with a semi-hard interior that just melts in the mouth. Of course, these textural issues depend on how long it's been aged and how dried out it becomes. The taste is also variable. Mine has a distinct sweet, mushroomy taste, but it could just as easily be grassy, floral, or with a citrus tang. As you can see, it's such a generic name, it could be almost any cheese. This is just the kind of cheese to be sliced into discs and melted on fine toast as part of a chèvre chaud salad.


I choose this cheese from my list of tasted-but-unused cheeses because of the word "pays" which means not just "countryside" but also "countries" or "nations" in order to represent all the countries in which you can find a Paris. When I look though my cheese picture files, it turns out I photographed it on my Paris platter, right over the Eiffel Tower -- you know, that famous building in Vegas, Texas, Tennessee, and Russia. Now just because the cheese is also a "crottin", I'm not saying all the other Parises and all the other Eiffels are turds, but then again, I'm not rushing out to visit them all, either.


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