Monday, 5 September 2011

Essentially British

Have no fear francophiles this is not a description of myself (difficult with my Heinz 57 genealogy) rather it is a small part of some distant shelves, in a distant supermarket that shall be forever British. (apologies to Blake)

Our local Intermarche Supermarket has an area about 1 meter wide and 6 shelves high dedicated to what it thinks we Brits use. It provides an ideal view of either:
  • What the French think of our cuisine
  • What some Brits miss when they live in France and can't do without,
Here are a selection of goods on offer

  • Top shelf- Shredded Wheat, Readybrek
  • Second Shelf- Digestive biscuits, Shortbread, Hobnobs
  • Third Shelf- Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Marmalade, Lemon Curd
  • Fourth Shelf- Birds custard Pouder, Amroasia Deven Custard, Gravy browning
  • Fith Shelf: Fray Bentos Steak & Kidney Pies, gravy browning, Coleman's mustard, Heinz Tinned Tomatoe Soup, Oxo cubes
  • Bottom Shelf- Robinsons Barley Water, 
Reminds me of a Michael McIntyre observation of Brits on holiday abroad, whilst visiting a local supermarket. They become very excited when they discover a packets of Cadbury Chocolate Fingers on the shelves, so much so that they take the packets back to  Blighty as a present for friends and family. Sad but in truth I can see it happening.

It then started me thinking what would we put on the shelves of Tesco, Sainsbury etc in a section called Essentially French. When we started coming to France some 30 years ago there were many items in the French Supermarkets that were not to be found in their UK counterparts such as Bon Mamon Jam, the huge variety of cheeses, little"madeline" cakes,etc. Sadly this is no longer the case, it seems the UK has assimulated the best of  everywhere. The things we bring back now tend to be local specialities of which there are many in France such:as:
  •  The local Poligny goats cheese from the market (pyramid shaped), 
  • Rillons, belly pork that has been marinated and cooked 
  • Torteau fromager- a goat cheesecake with a burnt outer coating
  • Many varieties of flavoured dark chocolate.
What you do notice is the shear variety and quality of certain products, e.g. the fish , cheese counters. The fruit and vegetables in the main come from France or surrounding countries. By and large the fruit and vegetables are seasonal and thus are much more flavoursome than items flown in from all round the world or forced in those large greenhouses
    It does seem to me that in the UK we have gradually lost the joy of celebrating differences in the clamour to provide all things to all.