Popcorn’s Lettres de niblesses
The craze for all things American in Paris is spreading. After improving on hot dogs and even hamburgers, the French have now done the same for – believe it or not – popcorn. An inferior version has been around in French cinemas for a long time, and it has lately become popular as a snack served with the dinner drinks, but now it is moving up in the world. At the chic Mini Palais restaurant in the Grand Palais yesterday, we were given a small bowl of tasty sugar-encrusted popcorn instead of a chocolate with our coffee. But the ultimate in popcorn can be found at a new shop called My Crazy Pop (15 rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris; tel.: 01 48 07 89 08). Owner Hélène Petit teamed up Nathalie Nguyen, a former contestant on the TV cooking competition “Masterchef,” to develop original flavorings for high-quality kernels that are air-popped rather than cooked with oil. The results, both sweet and savory, are surprisingly excellent, with such unusual flavors as curry; wasabi (my favorite); ginger, sesame and poppyseed; and Parmesan. Nguyen says it took her a year and a half to develop the latter. Petit told me her goal was to lend a French touch to popcorn to give it its “lettres de noblesses,” but perhaps she might better have said “lettres de niblesses.” Mission accompli.