Jambon – Beurre: France’s classic ham baguette making its way around the world05-06-2018
Simple, yet utterly delicious, the authentically French-Made jambon-beurre aka le Parisien, or humble baguette spread with butter and filled with ham, is just the ticket when hunger strikes, and a popular go-to lunch.
Le Jambon Beurre
A nationwide food icon
Despite fierce competition in the snacking sector, the traditional ham-butter baguette continues to hit the spot on French palates. In 2017, out of 2.39 billion sandwiches consumed in France, jambon beurre accounted for 1.22 billion. This French classic currently accounts for 50.8% of the sandwich market. Lower in calories than other sandwiches, it is generally appreciated for its humble ingredients of baguette, butter and ham, and sheer practicality. Easy to make and easy to transport, it can be eaten pretty much anywhere, and is a firm favourite at even the most gourmet picnics.
A bit of background…
Photos credits @curatedbyfabio
Once upon a time, the jambon beurre was not a ham baguette at all, though the crumbs of an idea were already present. It was originally a way for workers in fields or factories to eat quickly on the hoof with little outlay. Lunch would consist of dry bread spread with the cheapest meat-based product possible, essentially lard, to make a sufficiently nourishing meal to stave off hunger and keep workers going until the end of the day. Over the years, the hunk of bread was replaced by the more sophisticated baguette, while jambon de Paris, or cooked ham, together with the all-important, lashings of butter, have become the staple filling.
Top tips to bag the best ham baguette…
Jambon-beurre baguettes are sold in any French boulangerie worth its salt, and also in supermarkets, bars, bistros, hotels and even petrol stations, up and down the country. The home-made version is another option, and infinitely cheaper, with the added advantage of having more control over the quality of the ingredients.
Le Petit Vendome, Paris’s ultimate jambon beurre?
Just a stone’s throw from Paris Garnier Opera House, at 8 Rue des Capucines in the 2nd arondissement, according to pundits, this is the place to go for the capital’s finest jambon beurre. The establishment seems to have struck upon the perfect formula: baguette from Chez Julien, the finest Normandy beurre de baratte doux unsalted butter, and premium-quality ham from the owner’s favourite charcutier. Not forgetting the all-important skill of spreading the butter, comme il faut! Customers love the fact that sandwiches are made to order while you wait, using only the freshest ingredients. And manager Sophie sells more than a hundred every lunchtime.
Le Jambon-Beurre – the restaurant hamming it up
Behind every great dish is a ham baguette! Jambon-Beurre restaurant in the heart of Paris is the brainchild of founders Stephane Pinloche and Rodolphe Constans-Gavarry. It not only serves pork ham, but also duck and beef ham. “We wanted to reinvent the classic French baguette and restore it to its former glory, by assembling premium quality, non-processed, fresh ingredients”, explains Rodolphe Constans-Gavarry. “We select top quality, crusty baguettes with a honeycomb interior, homemade or artisan chutneys and premium quality artisan meats, to which we add aromatic herbs or cheese.”
For those seeking something less conventional, they serve other jambon beurre-based options, like the Azimuté, a wonderful ham, butter, Yuzu and coriander creation. “At first customers were surprised to see a new take on the traditional ham baguette, but now that’s what they come for. We even had a foreign customer come specially to try our traditional ham baguette. It makes us proud to convert foreign visitors, knowing that they in turn will go home and tell their friends.”
“We have not ruled out the idea of one day opening a place abroad, maybe in a big city. French foods like ham baguette, are hugely popular,” concluded the manager of the restaurant, which also doubles up as a wine-bar. To spice things up a little.
Jambon-beurre abroad ? Why not ?
Jambon-beurre has even carved a niche in Hollywood, elevated as a symbol of French luxury in a number of stylish boulangeries and restaurants, like the one run by celebrity chef Ludovic Lefebvre.
New York’s East Village has also become a destination for French baguettes. Petit Parisien creates quality sandwiches with distinctive French names. Napeoleon, Edith Piaf, Gainsbourg and Cousteau are a line-up of sandwiches with classic fillings including cheese and ham, rillettes, saucisson and gherkin, foie gras, and Fourme d’Ambert, not forgetting the most popular, the classic Parisien. Ingredients are French and the baguettes are crusty, just like they serve in France.
Jambon-beurre, 117 rue Saint Honoré, Paris 75001
Le petit Vendôme, 8 Rue des Capucines, 75002 Paris
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