According to a report I read in the UK newspaper The Telegraph there are certain food items that Brits abroad simply can’t live without.
I looked through their list and I have to agree with much of it though on the whole it is possible to get quite a lot of British branded foods in France these days – for a premium – and there are plenty of online food companies that will source any British foods and post them to you!
I remember coming out years ago and there used to be an English stall at the Saturday morning food market in Le Touquet selling such exotic items as Digestive biscuits, Carrs Water Biscuits and Dundee Cake. These days pretty much every supermarket in my rural area of France has a “foreign foods section” including Anglais.
So… what was on the list of must-have foods for Brits?
Number One – and no surprise a good strong cup of tea! This is one thing that is impossible to source in my part of France. I like a really good strong Kenya blend from a big supermarket chain in the UK and I just can’t get anything like it here in France. We Brits are brought up to start the day, get through the day and end the day with a cup of tea!
Number two was a full English breakfast and cheese… I have mixed views on this – I do find it difficult to get a good strong cheddar but a full English? I can get the most delicious sausages, bacon and black pudding anywhere in France and I definitely don’t miss plastic packet sausages from the UK! But… baked beans – now there’s something I stock up on when I go back to the UK! My French neighbours find my passion for haricot beans in tomato sauce very odd. I’ve dished out tins of them hoping my Frenchie friends will see the merits but without fail every single one of them has pronounced baked beans as utterly repellent!
Chocolate was on the list of things the Brits miss. Chocolate? I ask you, in a land where making chocolate is an art and a passion – what’s to miss?! Expats – go immediately to a chocolaterie or the Salon du Chocolat show – get your fix there, you’ll never look back!
Marmite – oh yes… totally agree. The little brown pots of yeast extract (a by-product of brewing beer but not remotely alcoholic) are essential to me. We Brits either love it or hate it, I don’t want to go without! It’s been around since the 19th Century and the name is taken from an old French word “marmite” which means a covered cooking pot. It has the consistency of a thick glue, is pungent and piquant and very comforting.
Gravy! You just can’t get good gravy in France – and by that I mean the powdered stuff which probably doesn’t have any real food in it but is made of chemicals but you just mix it with water and you have perfect tasting gravy for your roast dinners! Here in France everyone makes gravy using meat juices, red wine, herbs and spices… I’ve tried it and have never managed to reduce it to a jus consistency thick enough to please my British palate – I think they teach French kids to do it at school!
I have to say if I went back to the UK now, there are a whole lot more French food products I’d miss – Mont d’Or cheese, goats cheese from the farm down the road, Barbe a Papa (candy floss) ice cream, fleur de sel, smoked garlic, ham from the pork farm, snails (just kidding I wouldn’t really!), smoked herring fresh from the makers, baguettes and most of all… cakes from the patisserie!