Friday, May 3, 2013

Le Truc Machin

I didn’t tell you the background behind this last trip to Paris, but the idea started many months ago as the concept for Rêve was being developed.  Then I made a wonderful new friend, who happens to have an apartment in Paris, and when we met, the offer to use the flat immediately came up.  When the offer was made twice, then a third time, I said to myself….maybe it’s time to go to Paris.

Arriving early on a Saturday morning, I rented a car at Roissy and we went to the flea and ran a few errands.  Later in the afternoon, I presented myself at the flat to the guardienne, who had no knowledge of my visit, and as such, understandably refused to give me the key to the flat.  Retreat!!!  I went back to the rental car and put the cases back in the trunk from the sidewalk.  Furtive emails and text messages were sent as I imagined searching for a hotel in Paris on a Saturday night.  Somewhat tired, hungry and in thirty degree weather, I parked outside of the Bon Marche Grande Epicerie, put the flashers on and told Raquel and Julia I’ll be right back.  I emerged a few minutes later with my version of French comfort food: a small box of grated carrots, a baguette, and a small ceramic ramekin of Burgundy cheese.


I don’t know what it is about grated French carrots, as it’s one of the few foods the French truly love raw.  You find them everywhere in France, in cafes and anywhere there is take-out food.  And in all of Paris, Bon Marche makes the best for my tastes, just enough vinegar and mustard, always crunchy and never soggy.  Feeling instantly comforted by the carrots, I decided that I must track down the grater to make them.  Et voila, as I made that decision the email arrived; go back to the flat; the gardienne’s husband had taken the message and it’s all fine now.


A day or two later, I found my way to Dehillerin.  I always try to hit the “priorities” first, and Dehillerin is always top three.  If I have two hours in Paris, I hit a few stores, and Dehillerin is always one of them.  One of the character salesmen pulled this off the wall when I asked, and I only had to glance at the label to quickly say I’ll take it (in French, of course)…. 


I waited until I got to Laguna to unwrap it….a series of discs and a handle; it’s a funny looking thing.  When the French are searching for a name for something unfamiliar, they might use the word truc, which is roughly a thing.  And if the thing is vaguely mechanical, as with this crank handle, you can call it a truc-machin, a thingey-majig.  It’s a great word to know in French.


This thingey has three different circular blades, and a piece that holds the carrots (or, in this case, beets) in place, which is great because unlike some other thingey-majigs I have, this one does not risk slicing off the tips of your fingers.


Now if you look on a website like Williams-Sonoma, there are about 38 different devices under Graters and Shredders, but not this one.  While our graters tend to generate a flat product, this one makes fine, round and very French shreds.


I made a mix of carrots and beets, added to a salad for me and Mom.  It’s a great way for me to incorporate some “raw food” into Mom’s diet.  She gets mad when I peel the carrots, but it’s the only way to do it.  These are my favorite carrots, from Kawano farms, and they are about as good as any carrot you can find in France~ 


The recipe varies, but it’s generally a bit of olive oil, vinegar (I use a red-currant or blackberry-infused for Mom’s sweet tooth) and a bit of Dijon mustard.  Add a touch of salt and ground pepper to finish.


My only problem is that I bought only one, and I usually buy two of everything, one for Laguna and one for Beaune.  At 35 Euros, it was not cheap, but given the quality of the machin and that I get carrots for free of $1 and I will eat these at least once a week, that will average down.  I can’t get enough of these French carrots and beets, made in my own little thingey-majig


This post is going to lead to a little bunny trail of posts.  First up, I’m trying to find a store that stocks these here in the States, and I’ll revise this post.  Enjoy your weekend; I am going back to writing and the Saturday morning market~


  1. I could definitely use one of those.

  2. Love it! My mom always made carrot salad when I was a kid. :)

  3. I am so excited, I purchased "Reve" yesterday...can't wait!

  4. As a lover of all things French, and cooking gadgets, and Williams Sonoma (I worked for this company for over 10 years) it really was fun to read. And when I first saw this gadget, before you even mentioned Williams Sonoma, I was thinking: They should sell this! I make a lot of salads and Love Beets! So I've got to get my hands on one of these. (Also, I've been lurking here for some time, and really enjoy your posts, and your beautiful pics. My daughter is a French major in college and we enjoy reading your posts each and every time. Thanks.)

    1. Michelle, can you tell your buyer friends at WS to please stock these? Email me andrea at and let me see if I can bring one of these back for you on my next trip, which will be soon....

    2. Thank you French Basketeer. I would love one of these. I will email you today! And yes, I have passed the word on to Williams Sonoma. It would be great if they could carry this item.

  5. I love carrot salad, the Grater kills my hands.
    I am telling you, that the Garlic press is even getting hard to do.
    OLD AGE Sucks. TeeHee.
    Great post