My eating habits might strike you as strange. On most days of the week I try to eat vegetarian but then will cross town to buy something like this. Luckily, I see nothing hypocritical about a person who advocates a healthy diet but still likes to eat a good burger now and then. After reading books like Eating Animals, The China Study, and Food Matters, I find myself eating more and more vegetarian. And while I’m not planning to give up meat altogether anytime soon–I like it too much–I do try to eat as little as possible and often find myself craving healthy foods.
One of my favorite places to go when I feel the need to detox is Voy Alimento, a tiny cantine/shop just off the Canal Saint Martin which specializes in unusual medicinal herbs and plants from Latin America. In addition to selling things like raw chocolate, cat’s claw, guarana, maca and purple corn, they serve a vegan, organic lunch menu Tuesday-Sunday. I’m not sure I buy into the therapeutic claims of many of their products, but the food is as delicious as it is unusual. I’d have no problem switching to a vegan diet if it all tasted this good.
You’ll sit on recycled barrels and share a communal table in the airy dining room which shares its space with the shop. Get the menu and you’ll start off with a small plate with tastes of raw coco beans, dried aguagmanto-a deliciously tart fruit native to Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, and assorted biscuits made with algae, curcuma or sesame. For drinks you can choose from the Purple Power which is made with purple corn; the Blue Comme Toi, made with Klamath, a bleu green algae; or the Xocolatl, an Aztec drink made with chocolate, urucum, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. The menu also includes a detox, vitaité, or energizing vegetable soup all enhanced with aztec super-foods and spices.
The main course is a copious plate of vegetables and grains, which on my last visit included quinoa with spirulina, crisp salad greens with shavings of leek and carrots, a delicious potato salad with carrots and zucchini, tofu marinated with a light citrus dressing and Fougatta, a spiced cake, which was a little too dense and dry to my taste. Everything else was fresh, with clean interesting flavors. The desserts are vegan as well and made from ingredients like raw chocolate, acai berries or purple corn. Stevia leaves, agave and yacon syrup are used to sweeten. Even my carnivorous French guy was impressed and bought out half the shop.
The shop’s staff couldn’t be more friendly and, when they have the time, enthusiastically explain each unusual ingredient and its health benefits. The clientele is an interesting mix of fashionable, yet health-conscious, locals and a few vegan tourists who most likely read about it on Happy Cow. If you can’t get to the shop, you can buy their products at both of the organic markets (Batignolles on Saturdays, Raspail on Sundays) or online. And if you don’t want to take my word that vegan cooking can be delicious, know that Alain Ducasse agrees and included Voy Alimento in his beautiful book J’aime Paris.
23, rue des Vinaigriers
Paris, France, 75010
Telephone: +33 (0)1 42 01 03 44