It’s incredibly dull to get excited about groceries, but there are many things about the regular chore that embue life here – at least for me – with an unmistakeable sense of living a la francaise.
For a start, my fridge looks different.
Let’s face it, there’s no earthly reason for this. I could buy all of these things pretty much in Wellington. For some reason we revert instinctively to eating differently in France. We eat more cold meats, more fresh cheese, more small yoghurts, more specialty desserts, jams with exotic fruits like rhubarb and quince. It’s partly that such things are so much cheaper and arguably better quality here. It’s partly that our life style is looser – more ‘pique nique’.
Part of the reason is that supermarket shopping is somehow different, even though it’s not!
I never buy more biscuits than when I am in France. It’s the novelty factor, and it’s also the emotional attachment to brands I first had when I was a child in France.
There’s nothing that speaks French apartment to me more than the coffee filter. We could do this in New Zealand, but we don’t. There we do lattes with the espresso machine and would not be caught dead with a filter. But don’t try and separate me from the filter machine here, on pain of death. It’s a cultural thing.
My breakfast cupboard looks different. For a start there’s Nutella (with apologies to Andrew Rowse) but also farm fresh honey. Yum. Perruche brown sugar cubes. What says France more than that?!
Syrups: grenadine, menthe. Need I say more?
And finally, the market fresh produce. Sure, we have great farmers markets in New Zealand and quality varies in both countries, but I can’t go past a French market, big or small. Nothing says summer in France to me more than melon, cherries, strawberries… Those pleasures will require a post of their own.