The Italians may have pizza, and the Americans can claim the hamburger, but the French have the ham-and-butter baguette, or jambon-beurre, if you’re looking to impress. This best Parisian sandwich is such a big part of the capital’s eating habits, it’s even known as a “Parisien.” And for the best of the best, head to Chez Aline, a former horsemeat butcher that now caters to more modern tastes in rue de la Roquette in the trendy 11th arrondissement. Chez Aline is every sandwich aficionado’s utopia, and unsurprisingly, the star of the show is their jambon-beurre.
The sandwich is half a baguette, butter, and ham, and that’s it. But believe it or not, it’s the most frequently eaten meal in France. In 2014, 1.3 billion jambon-beurres were wolfed down nationally. That’s more than 3.5 million every day! Traditionally, the sandwich served to refuel laborers at the corner bistro, but these days, come lunchtime, everyone from the office boy to the CEO can’t wait to get his teeth into one.
At Chez Aline, it’s all about the quality of the ingredients. The traditional baguettes are delivered hot from the oven by Maison Landemaine (one of the capital’s top 10 bakeries), located just around the corner. The ham, always the Parisian “Prince de Paris” variety, comes in generous portions and juicy, wafer-thin slices that will melt in your mouth. Michelin-starred chefs Yannick Alléno and Cyril Lignac and butcher extraordinaire Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec swear by it. And last, but definitely not least, the butter is shipped in straight from a farm near Rouen. Purists will tell you a pickled gherkin is also fashionable, but that’s simply a matter of taste.
Every lunchtime this little sandwich shop is swamped with patrons, fighting over the four bar stools. The line to get in may be long, but the wait only sharpens your appetite. When you finally get your hands on your sandwich, bite into the crusty, crunchy, crispy delights of this, the best Parisian sandwich. It’s deliciously simple, and simply delicious.