When my boyfriend first asked me to fill any gaps in my hand luggage with packs of bacon and cheddar cheese, I thought he was joking – and a bit odd. But he’s right that the bacon is not the same in France, it’s streaky strips or fatty lardons. I’ve also found it hard to find a decent fat juicy sausage – many of them are thin long things that pinder up under the grill and don’t have much taste. There’s a heck of a lot of cheese and it’s served with practically every meal – not just after Christmas dinner when it’s opened and hardly touched as in England – but you won’t easily find a strong mature cheddar taste equivalent. I know these are the types of things you can hanker after when you’ve lived away for a while, but when I told him I had no room left in my suitcase and he exclaimed “Well strap it to your thighs then!” I thought he’d gone a bit far.
I wonder what the French must think of us when I look at the English section in the supermarket. It contains lots of jams, lemon curd, rice pudding, custard, digestive biscuits and salad cream – at 7euros a bottle by the way! What a diet they must presume we have. On the other hand the French have come up with an amazing new concept in Jaffa cakes – raspberry instead of orange flavour! It’s fresh, tangy and bright pink, and I love them. Why are they not available in England and does anyone have any food distribution contacts? I think we’d make a killing!
Other than the fact that I’m having two big meals a day both with alcohol, I think my diet is much improved since moving to France. I’m tempted towards salad much more when it’s hot. And there are no Indians, Chineses or takeaways here. When I first arrived in France and we were staying with friends in the Alps, the friend’s mother arrived at the house fresh from the plane from England and immediately got out of her suitcase a full Indian takeaway in cartons, complete with naan and rice. Our friends had begged her to bring it over from their favourite Indian in Essex and, dribbling at the sight of it, ate it within seconds in a state of ecstasy. Fresh homemade food does get boring and particularly on a Sunday night I miss a dirty takeaway banquet.