France Day 4: Life at La Borie

Day 4 The day before was Sunday, so the only way to get food was at roadside fruit stands. We’d loaded up on our way down, but had no other food in the house. Today’s mission: grocery store.

Before making it to the grocery store, we stopped at Christine’s bakery for some pastries and coffee, because going to the grocery store hungry is never a good idea. I am happy to report I confidently ordered for all of us in French. This, after months of envisioning doing so and months of practice…it was quite the relief, actually. I spoke without fear of messing up, and it was much better that way. I finally realized I’m going to mess up eventually, but you can’t learn if you don’t try. The children had a lovely time playing on the terrace under the shade of the sycamore trees, and I had the time to step around the square and photograph a few of the buildings. While we were there, an Italian family was also eating. Bittykins invited Bianca to play. She was not at all intimidated by a language difference.

And now, the grocery.

It was far less familiar than I had even read about or anticipated. Occasionally, I encountered familiar food, but with the oddest juxtapositions.

A liter-sized can of duck confit right next to…Kettle Chips!

A jar of rabbit liver pate right next to…Old El Paso Fajita kits!

Here were some surprises: The shopping carts are locked together, but there are no locks on the wheels. You need a plastic coin to pop your cart out of the lock. Eggs are not sold refrigerated. You can buy them in cases already, but most are only 6 eggs per case. You may also hand-pick them individually and put them in a 6-count case.

Milk is not sold refrigerated. It is pasteurized, just like our milk in the U.S., and does not need refrigeration.

You can buy pre-sliced bread, but you’re not going to want to. The lion’s share of the bread supply is fresh-baked and amazing. Bagels are sold in sad little shrink-wrapped packages, and the white sliced bread looks all…moist and pale. You definitely want fresh.

There was only one choice for peanut butter, and they only had a few jars of it. Mustard, on the other hand, contained about 40 choices, and the jar we bought doubles as a Star Wars collectible drinking glass when you’re done with the mustard.

If food packages contain a second language, it is usually Italian.

The cereal aisle consisted of maybe 15 or 20 brands of cereal, less than one half of one side of one aisle.

Bananas were available, but not in ridiculous quantities.

Plastic Ziplock bags? There aren’t many! Consume your food! Eat with friends! Cook every day!

Peanuts are sold in shrink-wrapped bags, as are ears of corn. I’m beginning to see a pattern here with pitiful-looking American foods and the shrink wrap…

You don’t really need a box to rip a roll of tin foil.

The French are serious about their dairy products. There was a dizzying array of types, tastes, things that have been done to the milk, brands, and packaging, little of it refrigerated. We got what we thought was whipped cream, but it is actually a very rich, thick sour cream. Whoooooops. Guess we’ll have to buy one of those exotic fajita kits.

Asian food and ingredients are available, but limited, just like in the U.S.

There are no plastic bags when you check out. If you like, you can use a box lid or crate available from the front of the store (whereas in the U.S., that cardboard is broken down and recycled).

We went to the pool where I hung our laundry out to dry. For dinner, around 9 pm, we had grilled chicken with sautéed squash, potatoes, and onions, with popsicles for dessert. Bittykins chose “le batonnet de bonbon.” (The candy stick: ice cream dipped in chocolate dipped in sprinkles.)

It was a wonderful first day.

Today I learned: “Recette” is recipe.

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