In the last blogpost of this series, I promised to focus on Eastern European culture, so I thought it would be interesting to ask my friend Bea, a Polish-Canadian expat, if she could share the places that have been nurturing her soul. Bea has been living in Aix-en-Provence much longer than I have, so she should certainly have good tips!
Bea: “When it comes to my Polish roots, I have been able to find a few places in Aix and Marseille. They might not be numerous but the quality is very good so I feel like I am not lacking any comfort foods. Traditional Polish cuisine is hearty and I mostly crave it during winter. I found that I have been especially needing it during the pandemic. By far, my favorite place in Aix-en-Provence is the restaurant Sielanka. Ever since we arrived in France, we have been dining at this establishment which was originally located in Marseille under the name Un Coin de Bonheur. You won’t believe how happy I was when I saw that the guys were moving their restaurant to Aix – literally steps from my home!
Then the pandemic hit and it turned out to be a tough time for restaurants, but Chef Krzysztof and his partner are geniuses at what they do. So not only did they survive the lockdowns, they thrived. The pandemic gave them the idea of adding a little epicerie corner in their restaurant and I am forever thankful to them for that. I spent each lockdown running over there on a weekly basis to stock up on polskie ogorki kiszone (Polish gherkins), homemade cheesecake, szarlotka (Polish apple cake), smoked kabanosy (sausages) and many other of their delicious creations. And now that we are able to go out to restaurants, I have been a frequent guest at Sielanka, bringing friends to discover my childhood comfort foods.
Another place in Aix that I frequent to get my Polish fix is Sheriff Alimentation, a little Eastern European grocery store. The store is tiny and carries items from pretty much every Slavic country which means the selection per country is small, but I am always able to get a few key things there to prepare my Polish Christmas dinner.
If I want to get a slightly better selection of Polish products then I need to go to a little grocery store called Delicepol located in Marseille. It is very small but fully stocked with only Polish products. I always call before I go to make sure they have what I am looking for since it’s a bit of a trip from Aix.
If I am missing Canada I don’t have much choice in Aix when it comes to Canadian comfort food. The closest thing to Canada in Aix is le Farinomane Fou, a bakery owned by a Quebecois baker.
If I am craving truly Canadian quintessential products like maple syrup or ice wine, I can buy them online through kanata.fr or comptoircanadien.com. Luckily for me, my husband loves baking Canadian-style. His specialty is Canadian bark (or crackle).
Overall, I am pretty lucky to have all the Polish and Eastern European places in Aix and Marseille. I wish there were more Canadian places. I did recently hear that there are some Quebecois restaurants in PACA and I want to try them. They are all about poutine – the iconic Canadian comfort dish of french fries and cheese curds topped with a gravy. One of them is located in Marseille and is called L’Ere de la Poutine Valentine. This is bad news for my waistline. Poutine is not easy on the figure. And there is another poutine joint in Antibes called O’Kebec. It is my patriotic duty to try it ASAP. Nice is home to Le Quebec, a brasserie serving Canadian comfort food, so you know what I will be doing over the next few weeks!”
After thanking Bea for sharing these amazing tips, I was proud to be able to share one of my discoveries with her too: we have a delicious poutine in Aix! Hurry and check the restaurant Le Quatre before they change the menu! Also, please visit Bea’s blog: Pack your bags if you are interested to learn more about traveling and living as digital nomad.
Dear reader, if you live in this beautiful region of Southern France and are interested in finding out more opportunities to discover different cultures locally, please follow “Delicious Origins” who have Instagram and Facebook accounts created for this purpose. I have already shared there many addresses which I hope will really inspire you. Finally, I decided to ask business owners if they could treat you to any special offers – so you can test the honesty of our words for yourself, and here are the first offers!
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By Martina Hornakova, Founder of KITnDO and Delicious Origins