discovering exotic and inexpensive gastronomy

We have forgotten it, but in the 19th century (and even until the Liberation) people were starving in Auvergne… Generations of peasants left to try their luck in Paris, where these immigrants were given the nickname of “bougnats”. Most sold wine and coal, others created bistros, open from morning until midnight, where the people of Paris came to eat, drink, play and talk under the patron’s benevolent gaze. Today, these popular bistros have disappeared or lost their soul by turning into expensive and sanitized restaurants. In the age of globalization, however, they have been replaced in recent years by their exact equivalent: bouis-bouis!

Read also: Our dear bistros – Paris sur zinc

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In the past, the damned of the earth left Puy-de-Dôme. Now they are fleeing Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Ukraine… A young woman with a passion for exotic gastronomy, Chloé Vasselin, comes to dedicate to them the “Guide du Paris boui-boui”, in which she has listed 120 addresses where it is possible to eat for less than 15 euros.

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Read also: Restaurant: Sormani, the true taste of Italy

With his guide in hand, we rediscovered Paris. The first shock is when we realize that the boui-boui, we know it, we pass by it every day, without even imagining for a second that we could one day enter to eat there… In fact, it was a mistake. This is the case with the small Indian or Pakistani address, as found in the 10th arrondissement, such as Little India, 270, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin, or even worse, like Faisal, 11, rue Jarry (between two sleazy hotels) or like this unusual grocery store, Le Bazar Maurice. The dishes are delicious, authentic, spiced “just like there”, freshly prepared in the kitchen and served with kindness… so lacking in our bon chic bon genre restaurants, where we get a little bored at the table and where we would like there to be a little more life in the room, with laughter, ribald jokes and red faces…

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In these pocket restaurants, we spend just enough money, we go to meet the other, we feast on different flavors.

In the Stalingrad district, in the 19th arrondissement, we will meet another exile, Magda Gegenava, a former Georgian dentist who had to flee her country and abandon her clinic in 2008. After taking refuge in Ukraine, this brave woman came to Paris, where she was welcomed and helped. In front of a hut located at the foot of the rotunda, you can taste his Georgian cuisine of exceptional quality, like his puffed cheese pancakes, his marinated mushrooms, his cold cucumber soup and his bean lobio red. For us, Magda is the queen of bouis-bouis!

In these pocket restaurants, we spend just enough money, we go to meet the other, we feast on different flavors. And we eat simply by filling up with good humor, like at the Turkish Ergun, a former economist and folk dancer, whose Anatolia Village restaurant is a wonderful canteen where marinated grilled meats and eggplant caviar are a delight. At Bob de Tunis, a Tunisian Jew living in the 9th arrondissement, the inhabitants of the district meet every day to taste on tables covered with oilcloth his famous fricassees: large soft and crispy donuts, fried with tuna, egg, with potatoes, chilli and fresh parsley… Enemies of fat, go your way!
Moreover, even in the chic districts, there are bouis-bouis: the proof with La Tonkinoise, a tiny Vietnamese restaurant located since 1989 in the Passage du Marché, near the Madeleine: you can taste one of the best pho soups there. from Paris ! For years, Hédiard and Fauchon came here to stock up on succulent spring rolls. 

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“Guide to Paris boui-boui”, ed. Alternatives, 13.50 euro

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