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In France, the poissoneries (fish markets) are often decorated in a palette of blue to evoke the sea while boucheries and charcuteries are blood red. Rouge, the color of meat, pops up on tile walls, around deli counters and on awnings above shop windows so that customers can spot their meat purveyors from afar. That was the case at Maison Payany, an artisan charcutier in Marseille’s 6th arrondissement, until its new owner gave it a fresh coat of pink.

Marie Caffarel took over Maison Payany in the spring of 2019. Despite the unorthodox paint job, in many ways she has upheld the traditions of this neighborhood institution, which prior to her arrival had been run by three generations of Payany men since 1932. House-made saucissons (sausages) are strung behind the counter. An array of tempting rillettes, patés and cured meats fill the deli case. And the window display is stacked with the classic prepared dishes, such as pieds de porc (pig’s feet) en vinaigrette and celeri remoulade (celery root salad), often found at traiteurs (delis).

Yet, the 30-something has also put her own flavor into the 90-year-old shop. She balances the meat with veggie-centric offerings like courgetti flans, and mint and red cabbage salad. She offers some twists on classics, adding hazelnuts and whiskey to caillettes (caul-fat-wrapped pork pâté meatballs.) And, thanks to local design studio Studio Muro, she’s added a feminine touch to the butcher paper, menu and façade: a lovely logo of hand-drawn charcuterie and vegetables.

Ironically, Marie became interested in French cuisine while living in Australia, where her family relocated for her father’s job when she was a teenager. Nostalgic for the food of her homeland, “especially all things charcuterie,” she made pâtés, terrines, confit de canard and the like. She moved back to France in her mid-20s, landing in Marseille, east of her childhood home near Montpelier. Marie longed to utilize her cooking skills as a traiteur, but without a degree or local connections – “Marseille is all about the reseau (network),” she explains – she opted for a professional CAP certificate as a boucher/charcutier/traiteur.

At the time, she lived near Maison Payany. She stopped in often, drawn to its artisan products and old-school vibe. She asked Jacques, the sexagenarian grandson of the founder, if he had plans to retire. “I harassed him for around three years,” she smiles. “He must have finally said yes because no one else wanted the job.” After he acquiesced, she worked under his tutelage for six months to ensure a smooth transition.

Once she got the keys to the Rue Breteuil shop, she updated the kitchen and interior “which hadn’t been touched for decades,” keeping the heritage charm she so loved: the smoky mirror, the counter’s cream and rose marble base, and the giant, vintage Kelvinator refrigerator. Lastly, she painted the exterior in the prettiest of pink, which stands out amidst the Rue Breteuil’s beige stone facades.

Though Maison Payany is tiny, the selection is impressively large. Among the charcuterie, you can find pork rillettes, pâté en croute (pâté wrapped in a pastry shell) and jambon cuit (cooked ham) made with less nitrates than others for the purest ham flavor. Marie is particularly proud of her salade de museau, slicing the pig snout by hand, rather than using a machine.

Opposite the counter, a glass case is stocked with homemade sausages, including longanisse (a paprika-spiced sausage that stems from Spanish pieds-noirs, Europeans who lived in North Africa during the colonial period) and the popular saucisse au fenouil (fennel sausage). Her latest creation, a mojito saucisse made with lime zest and mint, shows her experimental side – and is perfect for summertime barbecues.

Marie likes making charcuterie because it “falls between butchery and cooking.”

The case also stocks butcher cuts – chops, roasts, filets – of thoughtfully sourced pork and lamb. Marie buys farm-raised Label Rouge (France’s high-quality designation) pigs from the Auvergne, explaining how they are apt for charcuterie because they are “not too fat nor lean.” She sources the agneau from a farmer in Revest-du-Bion, near the lamb capital of Sisteron, who slaughters the animals young to retain their true lamb taste.

On the traiteur side, some of the Payany’s original recipes are still served, such as croque-monsieurs and salade de macédoine, a mayonnaise-y chopped veggie salad that is “served a lot in French school cafeterias,” explains the young man behind the counter. When you’re not in the mood to cook dinner, pick up sausage-stuffed tomatoes, daube (beef stew) ravioli, and caramelized orange and star anise pork (inspired by her Australia days). To round out your meal, try the poireaux (leeks) vinaigrette, brandade and fava bean soup served from a traditional lion-headed tureen.

One of Marie’s most beloved additions is the house-made potato chips, perfect for apéro. She also transformed the épicerie shelf from basics (flour, sugar) to some of her favorite finds: pickled onions from local sandwich maker Dwish; coarse polenta from Basque country; and, from century-old Provençal cannery Guintrand, canned whole tomatoes (hard to find in France) for homemade tomato sauce and Bigarreau cherries that are “great for clafoutis.”

Marie likes making charcuterie because it “falls between butchery and cooking.” The occupation is becoming less common in France, due to an increase of industrialized products, decreased meat consumption and the fact that it requires an enormous amount of work. “It’s very tiring,” admits Marie, who often works from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., with a midday break for lunch and a quick nap. Since opening, she hasn’t taken more than a week off.  Luckily, she has a small team to help: an apprentice, a cook for the traiteur and a counterperson.

According to a study by the French Ministery of Finance, 82 percent of charcutiers in France are male. When asked how it feels to be one of the few females, Marie responds, “at school, they told me I’d never be a butcher. But, in my shop, it’s all good.” The steady stream of regulars shows that her customers agree.

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