News – “The Curious History of French Onion Soup, Paris’s Timeless Hangover Cure”

munchies.vice.com – If you ever attend a wedding in France, don’t be surprised if long after cake has been served, someone offers you a bowl of French onion soup.

Why? Because onion soup has long been deemed a hangover cure, the French equivalent of a 2 AM slice of pizza or falafel wrap. It’s a tradition that may have gotten its start at the ancestor of the world’s largest food market in Paris.

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The market known as Les Halles was founded in 1135 by King Philippe-Auguste. Starting as a simple open-air food market, it quickly blossomed, and soon a wall was required to keep it separate from its neighbor: the Saint Innocents Cemetery. But as the market grew and expanded, the cemetery began to descend into the grotesque; it grew so putrid that it was rumored to be blessed with magical “flesh-eating” soil that made bodies bury there decay in a matter of weeks.

By the 18th century, writer Louis-Sébastien Mercier was arguing that the cemetery was “attacking” the life and the health of inhabitants of the neighborhood, with such a stench of putrefaction that “broth and milk spoiled in a few hours in the houses neighboring the cemetery.” By the early 19th century, the city was forced to relocate the bones of the cemetery to the Catacombs, leaving space for the market to develop into what novelist Emile Zola would call “the belly of Paris.”

With nearly 25 acres of covered market halls, Les Halles attracted people from all walks of life: not only professionals—vendors and purchasers of wholesale goods for the thriving restaurant and grocery industries—but also Paris’ poorest residents, who were drawn to what Philippe Mellot calls in his book, La vie secrète des Halles de Paris, “an immense pantry.”


I thoroughly THOROUGHLY enjoy some french onion soup, so I actually found this article really intriguing and thought I’d share with my fellow french onion enthusiasts.

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